US Government Versus Online Poker, Game On!
Wow! I’ve been reading the news today and following along on Twitter, and it’s been a crazy day for online poker in the United States. It’s all so shocking!
So, thanks to some friends, I saw a copy of the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The indictment came from that office and the FBI to charge 11 people with PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker with big crimes. The people include owners and executives of those sites, and the charges include conspiracy to violate the UIGEA, violation of the UIGEA, operation of an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. All of these crimes have max penalties of jail time and in the area of $3 billion that the complaint is seeking from the poker companies and defendants.
It seems the first thing the U.S. government did was seize the domains of Full Tilt, PokerStars, and Absolute. UB seems to be affected, too. People started to have trouble gaining access to the sites, and some of the saw a notice from the Department of Justice saying that the domains were seized. Many U.S. players are starting to say that they aren’t allowed to play cash games on the sites, and some are even saying tournaments, too. It looks like U.S. players might be locked out of online poker on these major sites for awhile.
The official statement says that restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts used by those companies and their payment processors. Players are trying to cash out the money in their accounts, and it looks like checks are being issued, but if the banks can’t honor those checks, there may be a lot of bounced checks in the days and weeks to come. There’s still so much unknown about how this will play out.
Twitter has been blowing up with messages about this today. Everyone is trying to figure out what to do and what to say. The big companies are probably coming out with press releases, and organizations like the Poker Players Alliance is working on a statement.
It’s crazy that there have been so many efforts to legalize online poker in the U.S. recently, like with the U.S. government and in states like Nevada and California. But instead of working with our industry to help that happen, make it legal, and take the tax money from us, they decided to shut everything down instead. They’re arresting the bigwigs and freezing the money of the players who make a living at the game. What kind of solution is that?
There will be more news about this in the coming days. I’ll try to follow it, though I’m supposed to be traveling to San Remo soon for the EPT, so I’ll have to wait to see what happens. I’ll try to post here when I know more. Until then, I’ll post on Twitter as much as I can.
Good luck to all of my U.S. poker playing friends! I can’t believe what’s happening and hope it’s not as bad as it seems.