Harsh sentence for gambling site manager sets precedent

Manager of website that hosted the gambling of tens of millions of shekels, sentenced to a 27-month imprisonment and NIS 300,000 fine.

Gavel from Reuters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
Gavel from Reuters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
In a precedent-setting ruling, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court sentenced Avraham Shauli, manager of a website that hosted the gambling of tens of millions of shekels, to a 27-month imprisonment and NIS 300,000 fine.
The sentence was announced by the courts on Monday, but was handed down Sunday.
The sentence set a precedent since it was much harsher than any sentence for previous crimes of a similar nature, and because the state used a new combination of laws to obtain it.
In a recent trend, the state and courts having been pushing for harsher sentences for economic crimes in general, and gambling and Internet crimes in particular.
The laws employed for the conviction and sentence included a law dealing with money laundering and organizing gambling as well as the income tax law.
Shauli, 42, was convicted as part of a plea bargain and was sentenced immediately after. He operated the site from 2007-2009.
The site facilitated gambling on sports events throughout the country as well as on foreign sporting events.
The millions of shekels gambled on the site were gathered in cash by couriers. Those involved avoided using any banks or other legitimate ways of transferring cash in order to better avoid detection of the money transfers, the need to pay tax and the gambling itself.
In the court’s sentencing opinion, it said, “There is no doubt that the punishment of imprisonment which was agreed on for the accused is a heavy imprisonment sentence.”
The court added that though the sentence was heavy, “it was consistent with the requirement from the Supreme Court to impose harsher sentences and punishments with significant jail time on crimes of this kind” – in a reference to the Supreme Court directive in the 2011 Eliran Oved decision.
Next, the court referred to Shauli as the “head of the pyramid” who had a complex hierarchy of people working under him fulfilling a diverse array of tasks to operate the illegal gambling site.
Furthermore, Shauli had failed to report his gains or the income of his workers to the income tax authorities. He owed at least NIS 1 million to tax authorities and probably much more.
He was previously convicted in 1997 of fraud, taking bribes and other crimes.
Shauli was also convicted of the minor crimes of possession of a small amount of drugs for self-use and possession of a stolen item.
The economic crimes unit of the State Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case and is considered part of joint efforts with police from the Lahav fraud unit, to enforce the law and deter future economic lawbreaking.