Black Friday: Major Poker Sites Shut Down in US
Bad news to all the US online poker fans – four major former US-friendly poker sites were shut down by the US legal authorities on Friday causing big nuisance among the American online players. PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UB and Absolute Poker have all seized their operations in USA due to the interference of the US Department of Justice which took place on Friday.
If you would now go and try to visit PokerStars.com, FullTilt.com, UB.com or AbsolutePoker.com you would only find out that the “domain name has been seized by the F.B.I. Pursuant to and Arrest Warant in Rem obtained by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York”. What this legal gibberish actually says is: “if you're an American citizen and want to play online poker – go somewhere else”.
However, the US law institutions did not only ban the sites in question and force them to stop providing online poker services inside the United States, but have also charged the founders and payment processors of these poker sites with “bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses”. The charges are based on the Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1955 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. “Restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors, and five internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to host their illegal poker games were seized,” announced the the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.
Only two of the defendants – John Campos of SunFirst Bank and Chad Elie were arrested Friday morning in Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada, respectively, while the rest of the 11 defendants were outside of the US at the time. Therefore Isai Scheinberg, Raymond Bitar, Nelson Burtnick, Paul Tate, Scot Tom, Brent Beckley, Ira Rubin, and Ryan Lang have not been arrested, although the attorney’s office is said to be working with foreign law enforcement agencies and Interpol to arrest them.
However, all of this only affects the US players. We at NeverwinPoker can only express our condolences to all those of you American online poker fans and wish you to bee strong and patient while waiting for the outcome of this mess. Still, the rest of the world where online poker is not banned can access the poker sites by changing the .com domain with .eu (for PokerStars, ubpoker and AbsolutePoker) or co.uk (for Full Tilt Poker). The poker software clients work as usual except the fact that they do not accept US players.
As expected the Poker Players Alliance have expressed their strong disapproval to the situation, here's what the former Senator Alfonse D'Amato, chairman of the Poker Players Alliance had this to say: “On behalf of the millions of poker players across the country, we are shocked at the action taken by the U.S. Department of Justice today against online poker companies and will continue to fight for Americans’ right to participate in the game they enjoy. Online poker is not a crime and should not be treated as such. We are currently gathering all of the information around today’s announcement and will offer detailed analysis when the full facts become available.”
The story is sure to develop during the week so be sure to check in with NeverwinPoker.com for more updates on this. You sould also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news on the online poker situation in America.