Youbet Served Search Warrant by Federal Agents

Youbet Served Search Warrant by Federal Agents
Photo: File Photo

A federal search warrant was served at the California headquarters of Youbet.com Oct. 4 as part of a federal investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas, the company has reported.

In a document filed Oct. 9 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Youbet.com said officials from an affiliate agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security presented the search warrant at the advance deposit wagering company’s Woodland Hills headquarters.

The filing said the search warrant, served by agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, involved “various records, including, among other things, business records of our IRG business related to the wagering activities of certain customers.”

IRG is an off-shore wagering entity owned by Youbet.com that offers rebates to customers. Details of the Las Vegas investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office haven’t been disclosed, but it is believed to involve activities affiliated with at least one other prominent off-shore ADW unrelated to Youbet and IRG, and possibly others.

According to its Web site, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is “responsible for eliminating vulnerabilities in the nation's border, and with economic, transportation, and infrastructure security.” ICE is composed of four law enforcement divisions and several support divisions, the Web site said.

Youbet.com said in the SEC filing that it believes it is not a “target” of the investigation and that the company is “cooperating with the U.S. government in (its) investigation.”

In a written statement Oct. 10, the company said: "Youbet.com is assisting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in an investigation involving several individuals. To that end, Youbet.com provided documents to officials as part of a search warrant that was served at company headquarters last week.

"It is important to note that federal authorities indicated that no Youbet.com employees or subsidiaries are the focus of this inquiry. Further, Youbet.com has not been accused of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Youbet.com is making all of the required disclosures and notifications to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Youbet.com Board of Directors regarding this issue. Going forward, Youbet.com will continue to assist authorities as it has done since last week."

The SEC filing also contained the first public comments by the company regarding a federal lawsuit filed Sept. 19 against Youbet by Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Youbet said it "disagrees" with the complaint's allegations, including its claim that the company is operating without a required ADW license in Virginia and hasn't paid source market fees.

Youbet said it will "vigorously" defend itself against the lawsuit and continues to accept wagers from Virginia residents.

In Oct. 10 trading on the Nasdaq market, Youbet shares closed at $1.48, a drop of 26%.

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