A hearing involving the seizure of $14 million in online poker players’ funds from payment processor Account Services will take place on Friday, August 21st at 1:30pm. The location: the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
The hearing for return of property, namely over $14 million in online poker funds, was originally scheduled for Friday, August 14th at 1:30pm Pacific Time. However, it has now been pushed back one week. In addition, the motion filed by the 1.2 million member strong Poker Players Alliance (PPA) to submit an amicus brief has been accepted. The Southern District’s memo reads, “The court has considered the application of third-party Poker Players Alliance to appear in this matter as amicus curiae in support of Movant Account Services Corporation.” The PPA must file its amicus brief by August 7th, one week before the hearing.
Looking forward to the Accounts Services hearing four weeks from now is PPA Executive Director John Pappas, who told Poker News Daily, “This is a very important hearing. The PPA will be submitting an amicus brief for it and will be available to testify as well. We think that the arguments outlined in Account Services’ brief are excellent and should prevail.” The PPA is fresh off holding a wildly successful National Poker Week and Fly-In event in Washington, DC. Over 100 meetings with lawmakers and their staffs were held to push for the legalization of online poker in the United States.
The PPA’s brief will focus on why poker is a game of skill. When asked why that point was important to convey, Pappas explained, “Under most state laws, the predominance test is applied. The test would say that gambling statutes do not cover games predominantly of skill. If we can get that adopted on a national level, it would be a very significant move.”
The PPA’s brief will likely focus on a December study by Cigital and PokerStars revealing that, out of 103 million cash game hands studied on the world’s largest online poker site, three-quarters did not go to showdown. Instead, the process of betting and bluffing took down pots. Of the remaining 25% of hands, only half were ultimately won by the player holding the best five card poker hand. In other instances, players folded the best hand prior to showdown.
The funds in question were held in a Union Bank branch in San Diego and a Wells Fargo branch in Escondido. The latter funds were seized on June 2nd, while the Union Bank assets were not seized until 10 days later. The Account Services motion for return of property states, “The warrant [for Union Bank] was issued 12 days after the seizure, on the basis of an affidavit filed under seal by Dana Conte, Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The affidavit remains under seal. As of the date of this filing, no criminal or civil action, including forfeiture, has been initiated with regard to this seizure.”
Account Services had checks on-hand for 13,800 online poker players totaling over $14 million. The seizure allegedly occurred due to Illegal Gambling Business Act infractions. Account Services’ motion explains, “Neither Account Services, the operators, nor the individuals whose funds have now been seized violated [the Act]. Thus, the Government had no legal authority to seize the funds in question and this Court should order the seized property returned.”
Today, attorneys for Costigan Media (the parent company of Gambling911) and the Southern District Court of New York will debate whether the warrants and affidavits used for the online poker funds seizures should be unsealed.
Stay tuned for the latest on the online poker funds seizure right here on Poker News Daily.