By Tiffany Roesler
On April 15, if you tried to log on to Pokerstars.com,
Fulltiltpoker.com or Absolutepoker.com, you found yourself starring
at The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice’s
trademark logos nice and big on the screen.
Federal prosecutors unveiled extensive indictments against Isai
Scheinberg founder of PokerStars and Raymond Bitar founder of Full
Tilt Poker, as well as nine other owners, trying to shut them
Bitar, Scheinberg and others are being accused of operating an
illegal gambling business. A civil lawsuit is also being filed for
$3 billion in civil money laundering penalties.
All accounts were frozen, but sites reassured that whatever
money customers had in your account was safe ” of course.
“Full Tilt Poker has always maintained the highest levels of
integrity and compliance with the law. Due to recent events, Full
Tilt Poker is unable to accept ‘Real Money’ play from customers
located in the United States. However, please know that your funds
are safe and secure we are working to resolve the distribution of
these funds,” the site read.
Is this bad for online poker players with money frozen in their
accounts? Yes, but the owners are the ones who should be
According to Couriermail.com, “in the indictment, federal
prosecutors say offshore poker owners arranged for payment
processors with bank accounts in the US to receive payments from US
gamblers and disguise them as payments for products such as jewelry
or golf balls.”
Apparently, Bitar worked to create fictitious online companies
such as flower shops and pet supply stores to assist credit card
transactions while deceiving banks and financial institutions.
Scheinberg is being held in contempt of loading funds from
customer’s credit onto pre-paid debit cards or phone cards without
using a gambling transaction code.
And you’re worried about not accessing you’re account or
experiencing gambler’s withdrawals?
Consider yourself lucky. Now you actually get to drive to the
nearest casino, to experience the full effects of gambling.
It’s not so much about customers losing their money ” as stated
before, their accounts are frozen and their money is okay ” it’s
about the U.S. losing an opportunity to decrease its national
Instead of the feds worrying about entirely shutting online
poker down, they should regulate it, tax it and use it as national
Take the Prohibition for example.
The government illegalized alcohol, only to have Americans find
a loophole to get around it, which resulted in the government
losing tons in potential profit and having to fight people who
opposed the law.
The government should have learned their lesson the first
If you try to take away something this important in American’s
daily life they will still make sure they get their way.
The best option for the government now is to take advantage of
this situation and make it into something profitable.
Yes, fraud and laundering is not acceptable, but there are ways
to penalize owners, and move on with the situation. The government
should look upon this as something useful.
Let’s hope they play their cards right.
Illustration by Greg Toumassian / The Poly Post
All bets are off: Why outlaw online poker when it could be taxed?
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