According to Captain Joe Lentini of the Louisiana state Police Gaming Enforcement division this all emanated from a routine operational meeting where he told his guys to go out and prosecute companies offering gambling services online to Louisiana citizens.
He says it was a random sort of thing and that his people then surfed the 'Web, picked out online companies like Sportingbet and then tried to place 'sting' bets from out-of-the-way bucolic places like St Landrey's Parish.
"It was the luck of the draw," says Chief Lentini. "That was the first one that came up on the screen and it was one of the easiest ones to find information about." The warrant against senior execs like Dicks was issued in St Landry parish, a largely rural part of Louisiana's Cajun region, because that was where the enforcement agents were when they placed their bet with the British company.
Louisiana just happens to make big money from land gambling interests.
When the bets were accepted, sealed warrants were issued against executives of the targeted companies (which Lentini is still not prepared to identify) Sooner or later one of those executives would set foot in the States, and that stealth warrant could be activated.
And along came Peter Dicks, not even on Sportingbet business, and he hasn't set foot in Louisiana in 20 years or more, so it's going to be difficult to hang a case on him imo. That didn't stop them from depriving him of his liberty - a very serious and fundamental act against the rights of anyone.
But I don't think that's the core of this prosecution anyway - like the advertising threats made by the DoJ last year and the persecution of Carruthers these are moves designed more to intimidate than cases where there is a real criminal case imo.
They smack of commercial protectionism, but the fact is that in practical terms these tactics seem to be working - billions have been lost in advertising and from the value of listed companies; international online outfits are turning away from American players just to be prudent and corporates are telling their executives to stay the hell away from the USA. And the media are having a field day with negative news like falling share prices and corporate concern.
I think that's the real and practical score for the federal and state authorities...they're damaging the industry and depriving US players of their right of choice without having to go through the tedious process of proving guilt in court, at least for now.
The Europeans seem to be catching on that this may be unorthodox but it works - look at the Bwin arrests earlier this month.
I am cynical enough to suspect that the same big commercial money or state monopolies that gets exceptions carved out of anti-online gaming law proposals is at work behind the scenes.
But sooner or later these issues will have to come to court, and that is going to be interesting to say the least.