There’s more bad news for online poker players in Washington State. Just a few weeks after the State Supreme Court upheld a law that makes playing online poker a Class C felony, the payment processor Secure Money found itself in hot water. According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper, officials in Washington State are moving to seize $553,000 from the Canadian-based company.
In July 2009, a federal agent working undercover requested a payout from Ultimate Bet and received a check for $200 processed through Secure Money. The Seattle news outlet explained the scope of Secure Money’s business: “Bank records seized by investigators showed that more than 5,500 checks had been issued from the Secure Money, Inc. account between June 2009 and January, totaling $2.7 million. The memo line on each listed ‘Payroll’ as the reason for payment.” Secure Money is purportedly based in Canada and has offices in Las Vegas and Tampa.
The Post-Intelligencer quoted the Federal complaint in part as saying, “Secure Money, Inc. distributed checks on behalf of illegal websites that host gambling activity. Processing checks that represent the funds derived from illegal gambling … constitutes a violation of money laundering provisions.” Seven people who received funds from major internet gambling outfits are cited in the complaint, although whether they are all tied to online poker sites like Ultimate Bet (now UB.com) remains to be seen.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has been the primary Federal force in prosecuting financial crimes related to internet gambling. The Southern District has been involved with the publicly traded companies Sportingbet and Party Gaming settling with the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, the Southern District has played a role in prosecuting payment processors like Account Services and Intabill. Whether the Southern District was involved in Washington was not apparent at press time.
The Washington State news outlet summarized, “The complaint details millions of dollars in transactions between banks associated with Secure Money, Inc. According to the complaint, investigators have determined checks cut from Secure Money, Inc. accounts at several banks were sent to Washington residents… A seizure warrant has since been issued in the case. It does not appear that criminal charges have been filed.”
Six weeks ago, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a law that makes playing the internet version of poker a Class C felony. Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Washington State Director Lee Rousso charged that the law violated the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. However, the State Supreme Court asserted that the statute affects in-state and out-of-state internet gambling outfits equally. Rousso told Poker News Daily in an exclusive interview that he plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, stopped taking real money wagers from Washington State.
Weighing in on the latest round of funds seizures was Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) Chairman Joe Brennan, who told Poker News Daily on Monday, “This illustrates pretty clearly why poker players and other online gamblers have to take a better look at exactly what are the politics behind this issue in Washington. While everyone couches this as the Democrats are for and the Republicans are against internet gambling, the Justice Department and a Democratic administration have not slowed down one bit.” General elections in the United States will be held on Tuesday.
Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest on the Washington State internet gambling funds seizures.