Department of Justice Seized 5 Major Online Poker Sites
On Friday April 15th, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) seized five major poker domains – PokerStars.com, AbsolutePoker.com, FullTiltPoker.com, UltimateBet.com and UB.com. The indictment charges a variety of crimes, ranging from money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud to unlawful gambling. Following the seizure of the domains, the DOJ released restraining orders towards 75 bank accounts in 14 different countries.
According to the statement issued by US Attorney Preet Bharara, in addition to the forfeited funds, a demand of over 3 billion US dollars in civil money laundering charges were made. Including a notice for the arrest of the owners of these online gambling sites. Among those that were indicted was the founder of PokerStars.com, Isai Scheinberg, who had recently completed a deal with Wynn Resorts to launch PokerStarsWynn.com once online poker is licensed and approved in the United States. The other defendants include Paul Tate of PokerStars.com, Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of AbsolutePoker.com and Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnich of FullTiltPoker.com.
Poker players worldwide along with affiliates were shaken by the indictment, calling it the Black Friday. Some are worried about when or whether or not they will get their money from these online poker rooms. The action made by the DOJ were heavily criticized by the online gambling industry, especially those associated with online poker. They find the indictment unclear and fishy. There were also speculations that the act by the DOJ was to intimidate citizens in the United States from playing online poker as well as online casino games.
As more and more questions were raised, it was speculated that the US government is shifting the issues and is trying to make Black Friday about corrupted poker websites. Despite their alleged crimes however, there have been no solid allegations that these poker websites were cheating their clients or that their websites were not safe to play. Players at these poker websites have showed great satisfaction and never had a case of being cheated off their funds. The only possible crimes that these poker websites are guilty of would be the fact that they are foreign companies. In which they do not pay taxes to the United States of America. Which also leaves both the US government and the US land based casinos out of the profits.
In conclusion to the indictments, even though PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com do not agree to what the DOJ has done, they have decided to suspend all players from the US from playing real money games in order to regain their domains. A refund will be made to all players from the US but they can no longer make anymore deposits nor play with the balance they have in their account. Under the agreement with DOJ, these websites can however continue to allow players from all other parts of the world to play. Players from the United States can play the free games only.
Funny enough, the land based casinos in the United States have reported to have an increase amount of visitors as high as 50% since Black Friday. It makes one ponder on the actual reason behind these indictments.
Despite the seizures, there are still plenty of poker rooms you can play at. Including those that accept US players. See full listing of poker rooms.
Apologies, all links to Poker have been removed as ZCB is no longer affiliated with Poker. This article is kept for history purposes only.
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