Bryan Micon, founder of SwCPoker.eu, is a wanted man in the United States. First reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office has issued an arrest warrant for Micon, charging him with one count of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system. Should he be arrested and convicted, Micon could face up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Micon currently resides in Antigua, but he had been living in Nevada until February. He had been the chairman of the online poker room SealsWithClubs.com, a real-money poker site that only accepted the Bitcoin cyber currency. While the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) made it illegal for financial institutions to move funds to and from unlicensed internet gambling sites, some operators, such as Micon, have seen Bitcoin as a loophole in the law. As it is a decentralized currency, exchanged peer-to-peer without intervention from banks, some online poker rooms have begun using Bitcoin as a way to accept U.S. customers. SealsWithClubs, while not large, was perhaps the best known Bitcoin-only site and was generally well-regarded.
Things changed rapidly on the morning of February 11th, though, as Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) agents and armed law enforcement officers entered Micon’s home, handcuffed him, and took him outside while he was wearing only his underwear. They spent eight hours on the premises, confiscating computers and electronics. At the time, Micon was charged with no crime.
Micon said later that he had been planning to move to Antigua, but this incident hastened the decision. In a video message to fans and SealsWithClubs customers, Micon explained:
After I was led out in handcuffs in my underwear, it was pretty clear that it was proper to leave sooner rather than later. I didn’t really want my two-year old daughter, who I love very much, to grow up in a police state where creativity is often met with guns and handcuffs and what-not and that’s just not the environment that I think is proper for my daughter to grow up in.
SealsWithClubs was shut down (the site assured players their funds were safe and it appears that this was, in fact, the case), but in early March, Micon launched a new iteration of his poker site, called SwCPoker.eu, which again is Bitcoin-only.
Bryan Micon has set up a GoFundMe page to try to raise money to pay for his legal defense. In less than a day, he has raised $1,950 of the $100,000 he is attempting to collect. On the page, he wrote:
Most of you have seen recent events surrounding SealsWithClubs and my family. Today I was charged by the Nevada Attorney General with “one count of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system.”
I maintain that I have committed no wrongdoing and have retained the legal services of Chesnoff & Schonfeld, whom I believe are the best lawyers for my case.
The price for representation will quickly deplete my funds, and I am asking for donations from anyone who feels like helping me.
As a husband, father of a 2 year old girl, & outspoken Bitcoin advocate, I desire nothing more than to continue to be with my wife, raise my daughter, and continue to build layers on top of the Bitcoin protocol.
The state of Nevada desires to take that away from me. Please help me fight.