The Washington Post investigates two biggest online gambling scandals

A joint investigation by The Washington Post’s two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Gilbert M. Gaul and CBS News’ 60 Minutes takes an in-depth look at the two largest cases of online gambling fraud in the history of Internet poker.

They find that Internet gambling sites operate in a shadowy world of little regulation and even less enforcement, and weigh the reasoning behind the US government’s ban on the industry.

In part one, „Hunting the Internet Poker Cheats,“ Gaul chronicles the work of poker players who took it upon themselves to investigate cheating on the gambling site Absolute Poker after one player suspiciously lost USD 15,000 in a short series of games.

After months of pressure, the site was forced to admit that the cheater was a consultant with managerial responsibilities. The cheater was never publicly named and never charged with a crime, though the site refunded USD 1.6 million to players.

Rumors then surfaced of a new scandal on the sister site more than USD 20 million stolen from players over four years. The alleged culprits included a former world champion poker player and employees. Part one ran yesterday in conjunction with CBS News’ 60 Minutes’ program.

Today, in „Should Internet Gambling be Legal?“ Gaul explains how scandals like these are raising fresh questions about the honesty and security of a „freewheeling“ industry that operates outside of US law. Revenue from virtual poker tournaments, casino games and sports books around the globe are estimated at USD 18 billion, more than tripling over the past five years. Billions of those bets originate in the US.

Gaul navigates the debate between those pushing the federal government to license and regulate Internet gambling and those who want to keep what they call a murky and industry wrought with scams and schemes illegal. Dozens of Internet gambling sites are located in countries with no reporting requirements. Gaul considers whether laws made in the 20th century are able to adequately protect people using 21st century online technology.