Online Poker Indictments – Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, UB.com – Latest News

Written by:
Ace King
Published on:
Apr/19/2011
Online Poker Indictments

Here are some late developments (Tuesday, April 19, 2011) related to Friday’s indictment of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and UB.com.  All related domain names were seized by the US Justice Department.  The three companies adopted .EU extensions and have stopped accepting new customers from the US.  All three are unable to pay out US customers at the current time following this action.  Players await word on the status of their payouts. 

The New York Times overnight featured an article drawing attention to funds coming into both the Poker Players Alliance and political campaigns, noting that a significant chunk of monies going towards the PPA were paid out by Full Tilt Poker and perhaps the other Internet card rooms.  While this may be an error on the Times part, they quote indicted Full Tilt CEO Raymond Bitar as representing the PPA or plays an integral role in running the PPA.  This is something a portion of the poker community  has been outspoken about in recent years, pointing to potential conflicts of interests that have served to stymie their efforts. 

From the Times:

One of the executives indicted, Raymond Bitar, 39, of California and Ireland, is a contributor to the Players Alliance Political Action Committee, donating about $15,000 of the $200,000 the committee has given to members of Congress in the last four years, with Mr. Frank collecting the biggest amounts.  But most of the money the committee gives to politicians here comes from individuals not cited in the indictment.

"It is the 1.2 million members who live and vote in congressional districts across the country,” said Mr. Bitar, who confirmed that more than half of his organization's budget is supported by industry companies, including those indicted Friday. But the push in Washington, and much of the fund-raising, is coordinated by Poker Players Alliance, which relies in large part on contributions from the Internet-based operators. The organization spent $1.6 million lobbying last year, using nine lobbying firms, and lobbyists like ncluding former Representative Jon Porter, Republican of Nevada, and Mr. D'Amato.

Some members of the TwoPlusTwo.com posting forum suggest a “new” alliance is in order that focuses more on the poker playing community’s interests.

We need a new alliance for poker players. If the PPA isn't willing to change its direction, then we need a whole new organization. I understand their hesitance to severe ties with Full Tilt and Pokerstars as these two sites have been fighting with the PPA for our rights to play online poker, but it is now obvious those two sites are toxic to the cause and attempts to regulate at the federal level are seemingly futile.

 

Minyanville points out the broader implications of Friday’s busts….

 

Busted: Last week’s surprise FBI raid on online poker sites netted only 11 arrests of the owners of three sites. But it seems that the abrupt disappearance of Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars is having broader implications. A whole industry had grown up around online poker, according to The Wall Street Journal. Celebrity players, bloggers, personal poker coaches and television shows all are out of business overnight, not to mention many under-employed people who made poker a Sunday second job.

 

Nevada Bill to Legalize Internet Poker likely to Still be pushed Through

 

Despite being backed by one of the online poker rooms indicted on Friday, PokerStars, a bill to legalize Web card rooms in the state of Nevada is likely to be sent to the Governor’s desk regardless.

Steve Sebulius of the Las Vegas Review Journal:

In any other state, Assembly Bill 258 -- which would legalize Internet poker in Nevada -- would be dead and buried.

That's what happens when the company pushing a piece of legislation gets indicted for money laundering, bank fraud and illegal gambling, after having treated the chief sponsor of the legislation to a trip to London and spread around nearly $300,000 in campaign contributions that are not only the possible fruits of a criminal enterprise, but may also be illegal donations from foreign nationals.

But this is Nevada, so not only is the bill alive, it's probably headed for the governor's desk. Why? Despite the bill's ignoble provenance, it may ultimately benefit the members of the Nevada Resort Association, which is pushing for its passage.

Ace King, Gambling911.com

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