Poker News

In what has been a lively afternoon in the online poker world, the Federal Government has seized the domain names belonging to PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UB.com, and Absolute Poker. Poker News Daily has learned that PokerStars, the world’s largest site, has ceased taking action from the United States.

According to a statement from the Justice Department, the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker have been charged with “bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses.” In addition, “restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors, and five internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to host their illegal poker games were seized.”

Visiting any of the four major online poker sites yields a message that reads in part, “This domain name has been seized by the FBI pursuant to an arrest warrant in rem obtained by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York… Conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing, or owning all or part of an illegal gambling business is a Federal crime.”

The new home page of PokerStars, Full Tilt, UB.com, and Absolute Poker adds that violating such laws can result in up to five years behind bars and a fine of $25,000. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, commented in the Justice Department statement, “Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits.”

The statement discusses the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) five years ago and revealed, “Because U.S. banks and credit card issuers were largely unwilling to process their payments, the Poker Companies allegedly used fraudulent methods to circumvent federal law and trick these institutions into processing payments on their behalf.”

The defendants include Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate of PokerStars, Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick of Full Tilt Poker, and Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of Absolute Poker. Bank accounts in 14 countries have been seized. The Justice Department is seeking to recover several billion dollars in payments: “The Indictment and Civil Complaint seek at least $3 billion in civil money laundering penalties and forfeiture from the Poker Companies and the defendants.”

Sources close to Poker News Daily tell us that UB.com and Absolute Poker will likely remain in the United States despite Friday’s news. Attempts to access PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker from a computer outside of the United States were successful. When visiting UB.com or Absolute Poker, the same Justice Department message appeared.

The news was first reported around 2:00pm ET on Friday. As we sit here writing, the Justice Department is apparently in hot pursuit of its defendants, as the same statement explained, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is working with foreign law enforcement agencies and Interpol to secure the arrest of these defendants and the seizure of criminal proceeds located abroad.”

The Poker Players Alliance was set to release a statement in the coming hours. Needless to say, you can keep checking back with us for the latest.

25 Comments

  1. smokeymtn says:

    Really guys going after Poker players ? Come on! Oh my government is such a bunch of A-holes! Here they fight over funding a women’s right of choice. They have no problem fighting about cutting education funding and taking care of the poor and elderly. They get all up in arms over providing health care to those who can’t afford it and in the end get nothing done about double digit unemployment or loss of homes and trillions in debt oh except give trillions to billionaires. and now with an industry that 30 million Americans enjoy and use, and industry that could actually create jobs, taxes and income to help pay for education and health care of course they are able to get in my bedroom and stop it! So glad they want to not only protect my rights but tell me what rights I want or have…NOT! We are really messed up when we CAN go after my bedroom but CAN NOT take care of kids, poor and elderly because of our “MORALS”. gezzzz

    What about the TRILLIONS walls street has stolen? What about the rampant corruptions in our government. I see FBI you don’t seem to ever get the time to take that on but again the middle class nobody is the one that takes his rights and personal life on the chin because some corrupt official wants to play up to in his/her political ditch wackos agenda for more campaign funding. Hey FBI are you law enforcement or lackeys of these wackos? Not sure this one qualifies as public servants or law enforcement!

    So rape, murder, molesters and so many other horrible crimes are not as important and if your a billionair or in politics your above the law…I C FBI.

  2. Pegleg11 says:

    Poker Site seizure… The US govt is so broke they’re trying to steal the money from someone who knows how to run a business. Now the only ones who can play online are people from Russia, Germany, Korea, whereever else… Why does the U.S. have so much pride in having “freedom” for its citizens again??? Sounding pretty communist these days.

  3. Annie Nonemous says:

    Assuming these sites are registered outside the US, hosted outside the US and owned outside the US, why is it the US can seize something worldwide when it should, at most, be able to block it only within US borders? Can you image what the US government would say if the Chinese pulled something like this?

  4. Fed Up says:

    F You Fed Gov’t.I live in MD. You bastards pass bills to give illegal immigrants free college,but you don’t want me to play online poker. Go directly to HELL!! You are a bunch of stuck up,snivling,lying,thieving bunch of scumbags,from The Pres on down

  5. Annie Nonemous says:

    I see some other comments elsewhere are blaming the Obama administration for this situation. Lets not forget it was a REPUBLICAN amendment tacked onto an important ports bill with a REPLUBLICAN controled house & senate and REPLUBLICAN president that started this and it was a REPUBLICAN senator who held up all senate business when it looked like the UIGEA might be repealed or delayed. Just saying …

  6. Naghammadi says:

    Yup your right on the money smokey, pun intended. wage war, steel us blind, teach us nothing, ship jobs overseas, pass laws for the rich, take away OUR RIGHTS !!!!!! I’m a very spiritual guy ( turn the other cheek ) but these guys should be punched in the face REPEATEDLY Thank you

  7. anigre says:

    This makes me so angry! I enjoy playing poker on-line. What business is it of theirs how I choose to spend my money?

  8. RJ KRUGER says:

    Well, if you read the story and basically understood the allegations, the NY-based FED is NOT going after poker players. They allege MONEYLAUNDERING of profits of the sites’ OWNERS. The issue is HOW the owners of the sites are circumventing the law. Read the story again.

  9. return reason says:

    Exactly who is behind the banning of online poker? I understand that even the big Las Vegas gambling corporations are lining up to support it and I imagine cash in on it.

  10. Naghammadi says:

    Ya right RJ I read the story lets go after poker sites not the wall street a holes who stole trillions, Oh that’s right all those documents are buried under building 7 along with our freedom !!!! Learn to read between the lines or go back to watching glen beck As far as whats behind it, Same as always POWER MONEY GREED thanks again

  11. Naghammadi says:

    WE are supposed to be a beacon of freedom, what does it say about our government when the whole world ( except china maybe ) can play online poker. If they can in china ? then I rest my case. thanks again

  12. wtf says:

    the u.s. is a garbage country regardless of the online poker situation. Its shocking that people support and sereve this miserable nation .

  13. Fed Up says:

    Bottom line,i dont care if it was a rep or dem.This is bullshit.The gov’t does NOTHING while we in the US are gouged at the gas pump week after damn week.Now they are taking away one of the ways we can make a little extra convenient cash to pay for the absurd prices of gas.Meanwhile, CEO’s,Congressmen,Senators,politicians in general can sit on their fat lazy asses and take more and more of our $ for themselves.I never thought Id be disgraced to be a US citizen,but this is the last straw.Freedom of speech is next to gone,as you cant say anything without somebody sniveling.Right to bear arms,HA.Only if you are a criminal(at least here in MD).

  14. nit says:

    How should we interpret the following statement from the DOJ ? “…approximately one-third or more of the funds went directly to the Poker Companies as revenue through the “rake” charged to players on almost every poker hand played online.”

    Is it possible that at least 1/3 went to the sites ? I guess that even though the rake is less than 10%, if ‘low limit’ players continue to sit and play, it adds up, and eventually, the sites would get it all. But when you consider the ‘high stakes’ games, and the money that is put in, to participate at those levels, 1/3 seems high. However, I am like many, who believe the programers developed ways to keep the money spread around, at least at the ‘low limits’, in order to ensure prolonged participation from as many players as possible…and to soak up as much rake as possible…Now that we are being made aware of the extreme lengths of fraud, that the operators of the sites allegedly averted to, (such as bribing banks) it seems more likely the software may well have been ‘rigged’. The DOJ needs to pressure the programmers…** Remember, there is no such thing as a random card generator, enacted by a computer. One last thought ; Anytime human beings are in control of something, there will be fraud.

  15. BruceHayden says:

    What about our dictator? Obama is well known for having played in a weekly game for many years. Along with most other American presidents the last hundred years. We do live in one of the most repressive countries in the world
    no matter how many times the pundits and scumbag politicians tell us our wars are to make us safe for democracy or some such garbled, nonsensical shit. Fuck the USA and all the fat idiots jumping up and down waving their little plastic flags and supporting the troops while condemning poker players. Yeah…fuck em all!

  16. mikep2658 says:

    Right on smokeymtn our gov will let banks and wall street steel billions from us and go after poker players and the dumb asses could be collecting millions in tax revenues that the poker sites agreed to pay duh, hail to the whack jobs in gov tirany at its best

  17. I hope the lot of them rot in prison…..they lose all they have….their wives and children thrown out on the streets. The thieving bastards, I knew it was rigged from the start, has to be. Wait till the gov crawls up their ass’, and one of the weak starts to talk!
    And damn people…..they aren’t after the fool poker players, it’s the greedy pigs at the top. Get a clue.

  18. New User says:

    People…look at yourselves. By spreading such anger and rage is as equal to the propaganda and behavior of the United States Leaders. I know many are upset they can no longer play poker “online” (as of now) but don’t forget we eventually crossed this same bridge in the past. Maybe this time, though it may take a a little while(maybe less), more legal practices will be implemented via the new software regulations, managers, and the money processors. Yes it is upsetting, just like a trillion other things I could mention, but let’s calm down, take a breath, and realize at the end of the day we are talking about poker. It’s just poker. Is it right, NO….Is it fair…NO -but blaming this group, or that group, this person or that person, IE will get us no where. Violence and rage has never won a single person a “true” stake in freedom; regardless what they “temporary” reaped. Karma always comes back around…Patience, other methods (move to one of the “current” legal states to play if you are that desperate, come up w/other solutions locally in your community until this one gets fixed. “We the people,” are more united and smarter than the small group of officials that wear suits and play their poker on Wall Street, Banking industry, and Officiating via their own personal agenda(s). We just don’t know it and/or don’t have a leader leading the way! Unity is the only way around a crooked govt. It doesn’t matter what country you are from or where you currently reside.

  19. Anonymous says:

    What a discrace to the founders of this country. This Idea of freedom that so many of our young men and women have died for over the years is simply being ripped away. Our country is quickly turning into a comunist dictatorship. I will miss you freedom!

  20. One of the posters commented on internet poker in China. I can personally confirm that you can play online poker in China, I was there for six weeks in Feb/March and played myself on Stars and Tilt. Accessing Facebook, Youtube and IMDB was however not possible…

  21. Martonio says:

    This is a nice big gift to the gambling corporations in the US, who will get the poker landscape wiped clean, and then set up their own websites to profit once the proper legislation is passed in 18 to 24 months.

    This is a prime example of everything that’s wrong with the US Government and the way it’s run. The bill that made online (pay) poker illegal was a last minute addition to an important Ports bill that was pushed through a Republican Congress on the back of the PATRIOT act.

    Why haven’t you American players taken to the streets to show your dissatisfaction with these actions?

  22. golf with discs says:

    To nic:
    My thoughts exactly. The internet poker book for dummies says not to worry about them cheating you, but I’m with you. Greed is a powerful thing.

  23. too much greed says:

    I believe its a good thing this is brought to light. these pokers sites, have been cheating most us with there software for years. their has never been a level playing field. there no secret the government needs money. I think the US GOVERNMENT, should have there own poker sites, so they can get there taxes. And the poker players can enjoy one of the few vices we have left. poker has been around for decades, its a needed pastime for many. on line poker can be cheaper than going to the movies.

  24. Mitch says:

    Who cares about online poker it SHOULD be and individual persons FREEDOM TO CHOOSE. Something this government everyday tries to take away from us. If it was the will of the people gambling online would be legal. So why if the government is suppose to be ran by the people for the people is it illegal? Our politicians know whats best for us and create and enforce laws that several times the majority of the population disagree with and instead fortify there power and greed and control over us “stupid” citizens. Great country I especially enjoy our fleating freedom.

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