Monday, January 02, 2006Contact: Maurits Bruggink
Wall Street firms among largest investors in online gambling

Although online gambling is not allowed in the U.S., with the exception of online betting on horseracing, most large U.S. investment firms increase their investments in off-shore online casinos and gambling sites.

According to The New York Times, investment houses like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Fidelity hold hundreds of millions of dollars in shares of online, off-shore gambling operators. This leads to a growing legal uncertainty about whether these investment houses could themselves be seen as criminally liable for their actions by providing financial backing for illegal economic operators.

Like in many other countries, however, the policing of national laws on online gambling is weak, if not inexistent. In the U.S. online casinos advertise publicly and illegal casino operators promote their business at trade conventions.

According to The New York Times, Fidelity Management holds shares worth about $363 million, or 14.1 percent of shares in Those shares are largely held in mutual funds. Merrill Lynch Asset Management has $164 million in holdings, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has $137 million. Morgan Stanley holds $25.6 million of shares in

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