Merge Gaming Network Under Attack By U. S. Department of Justice?
Late yesterday afternoon, rumors were heard that another online poker network may be in the crosshairs of the U. S. Department of Justice.
The website Subject: Poker reported through “confidential sources” Thursday afternoon that the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland plans to seize the assets of payment processors who were the middle man between the Merge Gaming Network family of sites and its U. S. players. However, Subject: Poker doesn’t provide any information on what processors are being targeted, whether indictments will be issued against those processors or the Merge Network, or whether there are any intentions of seizing domain names. Subject: Poker is stating that these procedures are set to begin in mid-to-late September, but they could come at any time.
Following Black Friday, the Merge Network attempted to dodge the attention of the feds, but apparently those attempts have been a failure. In May, the Merge Network quit accepting new American accounts, but still allowed players who were already with their variety of sites to continue to play. At this point, the Merge Gaming Network is the largest network in the industry that still allows for American action, albeit no new American players.
Subject: Poker editorializes when it comes to what players will do. In their article, Subject: Poker says, “If the DOJ does follow through on its reported plan on roughly the same timeline, it is unlikely that customers would be able to withdraw before seizures occur because withdrawals on Merge currently take over a month to reach customers. Indeed, since payment processors are reportedly being targeted, a withdrawal could potentially move a player’s money into the reach of the DoJ.”
“If Merge and its payment processors begin to move funds in an attempt to avoid potential DOJ action,” Subject: Poker continues, “this could lead to further processing delays and possibly even bounced checks. Again, because of the slow withdrawals on the Merge Network, it is unlikely that players withdrawing now would be able to avoid such problems; they may instead simply be subject to delays and possible failed transactions.”
Subject: Poker continues to analyze the situation as to the Merge Gaming Network and its business operations. It is unknown, for example, if the Merge Gaming Network segregates its players’ accounts from its operating capital, something which eventually brought down one of the biggest players in the online poker industry, Full Tilt Poker, in the Black Friday indictments. After the seizure of its domain and bank accounts, Full Tilt Poker was unable to pay back American players because of the mismanagement of their accounts and intermingling of business funds and player funds.
On the other hand, PokerStars – the once and current largest online poker operation in the industry – was bound by their gaming license with the Isle of Man to segregate player accounts separate from corporate accounts. Although in the same situation as Full Tilt Poker as to their domain and bank accounts being seized, once a deal was struck between PokerStars and the DoJ, PokerStars was able to repay American players nearly immediately. To date, PokerStars has paid out an estimated $150 million to American customers.
The Merge Gaming Network is currently the twelfth largest online gaming operation in the industry, according to PokerScout.com, and is comprised of such poker rooms as Carbon Poker, FeltStars, Lock Poker, PokerHost.com and Iron Duke. Poker News Daily has attempted to contact the Merge Gaming Network and the offices of the District of Maryland Attorney General to confirm these rumors, but there has been no reply from either side.
Want the latest poker news in your twitter feed? Follow PokerNewsDaily on Twitter.