Most bingo players in the United States have read about the battle over bingo taking place in Alabama. Vindictive prosecutors tried the same group of defendants twice with the same result-acquittal. The state’s attorney general has promised to continue waging war on demonic bingo games in Alabama. In the state of New York a disturbing case has emerged. A software developer in New York has been charged by a publicity mad district attorney with promoting gambling in New York. Authorities say that a program created by software developer Robert Stuart has been used for illegal betting in New York State. Stuart’s software is used by operators in countries where online gambling is perfectly legal.
New York authorities said that the $2.3 million that Stuart and his company Extension Software received in money orders and cash for licensing his software for legal gaming operators somehow constitutes direct proceeds of illegal, U.S.-based bookmaking operations. Publicity seeking district attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters “These defendants abetted large-scale illegal gambling in the U.S. and abroad. In doing so, they gave bettors an easy way to place illegal wagers, and created an appetite for further unlawful activity.” Stuart has been charged along with his wife and brother in law with promoting gambling in New York which is a felony.
Stuart said that his company sells the software to operators located outside of the United States and that he is unaware of anyone using his software in the US. Stuart says his software does not take bets but provides infrastructure to online gaming sites to display sporting events. Stuart stated “It’s overreaching where they’re going after a software developer who sells the software with a legal license, and yet we’re still being prosecuted on how it’s being used.” Stuart said that authorities have not said who he is accused of aiding and abetting.
Civil libertarians find Stuart’s case disturbing and say that if the prosecution is successful it could set a dangerous precedent. Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University, told reporters “It’s scary for software distributors, if someone happens to use their software for illegal activity. If you know what people could use it for, and didn’t prevent it, did you take enough steps? What level of knowledge you need to have and all of that is not as clear as it should be [under current laws].”
The prosecution could have a chilling effect for software developers in the US. Online bingo and gaming operators depend on software developers for their gaming software. If Stuart is convicted many developers would be reluctant to create new games for operators. Authorities tried to pressure Stuart into hacking into hacking into the systems of his clients. Fortunately Stuart has a conscience and refused. A hearing has been scheduled for January 8th in New York.