19. April 2011 12:08
There is huge turmoil in the world of online poker after three of the world’s major online poker sites were shut down by the FBI last Friday, 15 April, now labelled Black Friday in the online poker community.
US federal prosecutors filed an indictment charging the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, as well as nine other individuals, of operating illegal gambling businesses. Federal prosecutors also filed a civil lawsuit of $3 billion in money laundering penalties, accusing the online poker companies of disguising the money they received from US poker players as payments to non-related online merchants such as jewelers and golf ball suppliers.
The PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.com internet domain names were seized to stop the companies from operating in the US, and a federal judge enforced a restraining order against 76 bank accounts in 14 countries that are connected with these online poker companies.
The accused poker operators have maintained that they were not violating US laws, and that poker is a game of skill and not gambling, but have not commented since last Friday. Some legal land-based casinos have been in the process of setting up lucrative deals with these online sites. These deals will no longer go ahead.
The indictment still maintains that PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker “…used fraudulent methods to avoid restrictions and to receive billions of dollars from United States residents who gambled” and “…deceived or directed others to deceive United States banks and financial institutions into processing billions of dollars in payments”.
The above-mentioned online poker companies are not run in the US but are estimated to have made over $1.4 billion in revenue from US players.