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Showing posts with label 2011 DOJ online poker raid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2011 DOJ online poker raid. Show all posts

Thursday, September 22, 2011

PPA Encourages You to Become a Lying Whore…

Today the Poker Player’s Alliance sent out an email suggesting that people who are owed money from Full Tilt Poker may be able to get compensation from the government if the allegations that Full Tilt was a “global Ponzi scheme” (hint it wasn’t—it was a badly run company).  By portraying themselves as “victims of a crime” players can potentially get some portion of their lost money back.

The Department of Justice is portraying it as if all offshore gambling is corrupt and that Full Tilt was stealing our money, but the fact is that they were the 2nd most reputable (ok 2nd was a ways down the totem but still) online poker company in terms of making sure people got paid, etc.  The one two punch here was the pressure of the UIGEA on the payment processors which caused them to float a bunch of invisible loans to plays to the tune of ???  100 million?  more? and then the seizure of a huge portion of their business funds while cutting off the US player population which they were much more dependent on than PokerStars.  I'm not holding Full Tilt faultless here, but I AM saying the DoJ literally caused this to happen.

So if we’re a victim of a crime the criminal is the US DoJ.

Text of the PPA Letter:

This week’s news from the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that Full Tilt Poker perpetrated a “global Ponzi scheme” that defrauded players has sent shockwaves through the poker community.  If true, these allegations detail a massive betrayal of player trust and will cause further hardship for the individual poker player, none of whom have been accused of doing anything wrong.  Based on the DOJ allegations, it is clear that the players who deposited money and played on Full Tilt Poker are truly the victims in all of this mess. 

The PPA believes that fundamental justice requires that players be repaid their money on deposit, and so we wanted to mention an avenue by which players can ask the DOJ to return funds to them through restitution in the pending case.  A federal statute establishes a number of rights for victims of crimes and requires that the government take steps to assist these victims. The DOJ put in place a set of guidelines and created a program, Victims and Witness Services, so that the government could live up to its statutory obligations to victims of crimes. Again, based on the allegations set forth by the DOJ, poker players who deposited money with Full Tilt Poker should be treated as crime victims and afforded the full rights and protections of our government.

If you have been unable to withdraw your money from Full Tilt Poker, you may wish to contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator at the U.S. Attorney’s office and ask that you be afforded the rights of a crime victim as outlined on their website. Let them know that you would like to be kept informed of any major developments in the case (United States v. Full Tilt, et al., 11 C 2564 and United States v. Scheinberg, et al., 10 CR 336) and that you are seeking restitution of lost funds.  

You can send your letter or email to:

Wendy Olsen Clancy
Victim/Witness Coordinator
United States Attorney's Office
One St. Andrew's Plaza
New York, New York 10007
(866) 874-8900
Wendy.Olsen@usdoj.gov

The PPA will provide you with information as this situation continues to develop.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Goodbye Cruel World (or at least USA)

Bodog decides it’s going to call it quits in the USA at the end of the year.

The Department of Justice (which by the way is kind of like calling a 7 foot man “shorty”) has claimed another indirect victim as Bodog decides to opt out of the US market when its new gaming license in the UK starts.

Bodog said: “Following recent news that Bodog UK has been granted a gambling license by the UK Gambling Commission, we are pleased to announce further developments to the Bodog brand going forward.”

After December 31st current US players at Bodog will have the option of switching to another cardroom run by Morris Mohawk Gaming.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

PPA Legal Eagles Crack the Code for US Poker Players with Unpaid Funds… Bottom Line? You’re Screwed!

No seriously, you are screwed.

lawyer_simpsonsThe newest non-news going around is the Poker Player’s Alliance new Player’s Fund Legal Guide which supposedly informs the group they call (and this is a direct quote) “individual players who have not been able to access their online poker funds held on account” or in short “everyone that didn’t have their money on PokerStars.”

In this “legal guide” they basically tell the US poker player that, while technically they do have a right to the money they have on deposit, it is going to be really, really hard to get that money since 1. Lawyers are expensive, 2. Tracking down people in foreign lands is hard and 3. You are obviously not on a lucky streak having had your money grabbed in the first place.

No, seriously that’s what they say.  Here’s the summary (another direct quote):

SUMMARY: Players, especially players owed substantial sums, should definitely speak with their own lawyer about whether it is in their interest to file a lawsuit either individually or as a self-defined group of similarly situated players. They must balance the costs and risks against the benefit of having an actual judgment to enforce in a foreign court or a foreign bankruptcy proceeding.

- PPA Player’s Fund Legal Guide

Let me crystalize this even more:  The PPA spent WEEKS coming to the conclusion that the tiny group of poker players who have GIANT balances and that means MILLIONS on account should TALK TO THEIR LAWYERS about maybe trying to get it back.  Guess what PPA?  They already did.  Because they have millions of dollars.  And a lawyer.

As far as the rest of the suckers (including myself) that have a balance in the hundreds or thousands of dollars—well we are at the mercy of whatever ultimately happens with the various online poker rooms and we didn’t need the PPA to tell us that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scott Matusow Predicts Full Tilt Will Return… To the US… No, I’m no Drunk, Why Do You Ask?

The Lynchpin will be Jack Binion buying out Ray Bitar’s Stake and getting Bitar out of the company.

From www.scottmatusow.com

As most of you know, FTP had their europe license pretty much suspended until a hearing set for July 26th can clear this issue up. However, Jack Binion has expressed a real interest in coming in and buying out Ray Bitar’s shares of FTP. The Gaming license has been primarily suspended because of Ray’s pending indictment. Take note as well, Ivey has withdrawn his statement from his website concerning his pending lawsuit against FTP. I have heard Jack wants to bring FTP back to The USA market, and if he steps in, that will happen once the pending regulation legislation is passed in Congress.
Sources tell me that it will pass, and as well, the bills will be amended to allow credit card deposits. This equates to FTP paying all of The USA customers and entering back into the USA Market. Remember, the indictments are not against FTP, but against Ray and the other guy there (forget his name atm). Once they are gone, FTP is “clean”. There is more I cannot say at this time. I would like to, but know this; You all will get paid, and Jack Binion will likey buy the controlling interest of FTP to make this happen.

The PPA Sends Out a Notice to Support the Barton Bill for Online Poker

What’s in the bill?  Why should I support it?  Hey look over there it’s a shiny object!

moneyIn what has recently and especially since BLACK FRIDAY been typical PPA fashion, the PPA has released an email to members asking them to support the Joe Barton bill (H.R. 2366 The Online Poker Act of 2011) saying “The bill will restore your online poker rights by allowing licensed companies to offer Internet poker with real money play to U.S. residents”

  1. Really?  First, the idea that my rights will be “restored” implies I had some rights in the past, lost them, and now I have them again.  Did I used to have rights?  The DoJ says no.  Logic says yes.  If I did have rights before then they never went away did they?  No, they were just trampled on by villains…
  2. This bill does not NEED your help.  It is a pre-ordained second footfall from the legislation that has already passed in Nevada to let the huge US land casinos take control of the online poker industry in the US for the next 3 years which is 2 freaking years past the Mayan end of the world.

The specifics that I am interested in are the following:

  1. Will we be limited to play against only other US players or will these newly licensed cardrooms be opened to the rest of the world? (hint to US “rest of world” is the correct answer).
  2. Will there be limitations on the financial tracking the US can do for US players?  Yes there’s going to be some sort of tax component (although the majority of that should be a tax the CASINOS pay not just enforcement of US income tax.  For US income tax purposes the information the govt. gets should not be in detail form but some sort of summary annual number and hopefully a net number (total won-total lost for example) like they do on W2 forms for regular employees.

The things I’ve seen mentioned like the draft bill containing a clause that consumers couldn’t use credit cards to finance their accounts is silly.  First because you can easily bypass that regulation by getting a cash advance and shoving it in your checking account and second because it’s already very hard to finance gambling with a major credit card in the US because of the ruling that US citizens aren’t responsible for gambling debt to the card owners so they get a one time pass on any gambling they charge to the card (of course if you invoke the rule they ban you from credit cards forever).

So What Should You Do?

Nothing!  Just sit back and relax and watch the show.  Everything will be over very soon now…

Monday, June 27, 2011

Subject: Poker is reporting that Jack Binion is Considering Investment in Full Tilt Poker

Phil Ivey lurks around the deal in Ireland and if it goes through us players could get their money soon.

2004_binionSubject: Poker says that several sources have report that Jack Binion and Full Tilt Poker are in the final stages of talks whereby Binion would make a sizeable investment in Full Tilt.  The money provided by Binion would initially be put towards paying US player’s balances. 

Obviously for US players who have balances on Full Tilt this is great news.  As one of those players I can say that so far Full Tilt hasn’t even correctly reported the amount they owe me (much less provided any information on when they might pay it to me) so if this gets the ball rolling that’s a good thing.

I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this story…

Friday, June 24, 2011

Joe Barton Releases Poker Bill and PPA Instantly Applauds It!

Shouldn’t we read it first?

Well Today (June 24, 2011) Joe Barton’s bill was released earlier than at least Joe Barton imagined (as early as a couple days ago he was predicting probably 2-3 weeks even though many sites have reported it would be released this week).  Pocket Fives has the bill online and you can read it here.

My first browse of the bill makes it seem fairly decent.  There are going to be issues that will be talked about, like only US players being able to play against other US players and the financial tracking the US government will now be able to do one all your poker wagers, oh and the tax collection and distribution by the licensed online poker venue itself.  Any of those could become big issues, but the truth is nothing can stop this legislation at this time the same way nothing could stop the Patriot Act when it was introduced after September 11th.  Online poker players are hungry and afraid and they’ll sign up for anything that lets them start earning money again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Online Poker to be Legalized by Tuesday! Obama Defies Gravity and Becomes Defacto Protector of Sector 2814

if there isn’t any real news we can make it up as good as everyone else!

barack-obama-green-lanternStill nothing much is actually NEW.  The excitement out on the street is that the bill co-sponsored by Texas representative Joe Barton could arrive as early as the end of this week, which the various news blogs and so on have morphed to “WILL ARRIVE THIS WEEK AND INSTANTLY REGULATE ONLINE POKER” which is not going to happen.  The fact of the matter is that the Nevada land casinos are already hard at work (don’t worry how I KNOW THAT land casinos, get back to it) on putting together the regulation infrastructure necessary for handle online poker.  If they work REALLY fast the soonest that’s going to happen is early 2012 so it really doesn’t matter much how fast the Federal legalization comes as long as it happens near the time Nevada casinos are ready to cash in on it.

Here’s the actual rundown so much as I know (and I’ve had my ear to many a door as of late):

Full Tilt Still Has Not Paid US Players: In fact, they haven’t even credited the accounts of most US players with the funds that they will eventually be paid.  An article on Subject: Poker on June 16th talks about a 60 million dollar shortfall they created by essentially giving players “loans” when the players deposited money on the site but Full Tilt didn’t have a payment processor to debit their accounts.  Since Black Friday this has sort of sealed the loss for Full Tilt and may be part of the accounting difficulties they are experiencing which of course are in addition that they just plain don’t have the money to pay US players.

The Joe Barton Poker Bill: He’s drafting it and they keep quoting him as saying online poker’s been legal but the bank funding has not, which is incorrect.  The DoJ clearly thinks that online poker is illegal (regardless of the truth) and the funding woes of all online poker sites trying to service the United States are due to the UIGEA which only applies if online poker is illegal.  So basically the DoJ is the bully which is saying they think it’s [online poker] illegal and if you’d like to try your luck funding it you might just disappear in a bleeping hole.  Obviously none of the other crimes like providing bank executive bonuses, funding player accounts with golf balls or providing hot oil massages to bank employees would be necessary at all if the banks weren’t 100% convinced by the DoJ that online poker is 100% illegal and therefore under the enforcement of the UIGEA in the first place.

Phew!  Having said that, online poker is actually legal, just no one wants to risk their life or freedom to prove that especially when state and federal bills which will effectively legalize the industry are so close.

UB.com and AbsolutePoker (Cereus Network) Payouts:  Honestly I think we’re all going to probably have to give up on this one.  The amount of business they are doing post Black Friday just isn’t going to be sufficient to generate money to pay back the US customers they owe.  Take a trip over to Poker Scout and check it out for yourself.  Maybe in the long run this is the best thing.  Cereus made some horrible decisions and they still refused to fix their infrastructure including customer support and fraud prevention.  I’m not saying they were actively cheating anyone in 2011, but they weren’t doing as much as they should have to be responsive to customers and to protecting their online interests.  Full Tilt Poker is also guilty of many of these issues especially with regard to poor customer service.  I sincerely hope that the next wave of online poker uses PokerStars as a model.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What’s New in Online Poker?

Legally speaking not much, but what news there is isn’t good news

subject-poker-logoFirst off, a big shout out to the people at Subject: Poker.  This is a new poker news source website and they are definitely going the extra mile to ask the hard questions and actually check their facts.  In fact all of the new interesting news is being broken by them and every other poker and/or gambling website is rehashing old news (like a police department getting part of the seized funds from the 2nd online poker raid that hit DoylesRoom and TruePoker.

So what is going on?

  1. Cereus is 50-60 million in the hole (to players both US and offshore and other debts) and has about 10% of that in cash.  Is this bad?  Not if you hate money.
  2. Subject: Poker did an interview with John Pappas of the PPA in two parts.  You can read Part 1 and Part 2 on their website and they are definitely worth reading.  The reporter—Noah Stephens-Davidowitz (I believe that’s a Native American name) kept asking the extra question to get John Pappas out of the comfort zone.  I both found out some terrifying things about the PPA and also found some new respect for them and for John Pappas through this interview.
  3. Nothing.  Full Tilt is still not paying US customers.  Cereus is still not talking to anyone.  Nevada is still primed to take over organized crime licensing and regulating online poker as soon as a federal law is in place.  I will keep you posted when something interesting happens!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Republican Joe Barton joins Harry Reid in Effort to License and Regulate Online Poker

Most of the time they hate each other with Joe Barton even apologizing to BP about the congressional inquiry regarding the oil spill.

joe_bartonOnline poker was crippled in the United States by a huge wake left by the US Department of Justice and the April 15th, 2011 indictments against three of the biggest online poker rooms in the world.  Those actions left at least 50,000 people without income the depended on to support themselves and their families.  I count myself among this group.

Since that time there has been action in Las Vegas where they have passed a state bill that will enable to well established land casinos (think Caesars and MGM Grand) to take control of licensing when and if a federal law enabling it is passed.  Well, here comes the other foot.

What seemed impossible before with several key republicans ready to block pro-gaming legislation, is now possible because of Rep. Joe Barton’s position as chairmen emeritus of the Energy and Commerce committee which is where they’ll launce their co-sponsored bill.  The trick here is giving the Commerce department the authority to license new online poker operators.  Ok so the shell is under the Commerce department cup—keep following the cups with your eyes there will be a test later.

Even though I don’t like the shenanigans that is attached to this recent round of internet poker drama I do, like so many other poker plays, want a solution for the US, so that we can once again play poker from our homes and promote poker playing opportunities to other Americans.

Someone drop an egg timer, let’s see how long it takes this bill to become a law.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Full Tilt Insists an Account that would cover 1/3 of Player Funds Owed has been Unfrozen.

It’s on again, it’s off again, doj says no accounts are unfrozen, but full tilt says this wasn’t an account frozen by the doj just one that sort of froze itself

hair pulling womanI wrote about this a few days ago in another blog post about Ray Bitar’s account being unfrozen where many news and blog sources reported that an account was unfrozen that covered a third of the $150 million dollars owed to US players since the April 15th, 2011 Department of Justice action (codename Black Mamba).

The new poker news source Subject: Poker revealed that they contacted the Department of Justice and that they said that no accounts frozen during the April 15th action have been unfrozen and that if and when any accounts were unfrozen there would be a press release.

But NOW it seems that Full Tilt is saying that this hefty account wasn’t actually frozen by the DoJ, but that it was frozen by their bank.  EGamingReview reported that “…a company source told this publication the account in question is not one of those named in the original indictment, but a separate corporate account held with the Bank of Ireland.”

No official sources, including the DoJ will confirm or deny that this is true, although if true the DoJ wouldn’t be involved so having no knowledge would be expected.

When originally reported the addition of those 50-60 million dollars to Full Tilt’s coffers gave many US players hope that they would be paid very soon.  That hope was dashed when Full Tilt released it’s May 30th update which sent many players on a tail-spin when the found out that player funds were not segregated, etc..

Phil Ivey Sues Full Tilt

He’s not going to play in the 2011 wsop until funds are returned to us players

phil-ivey-full-tilt-proAt 8pm in the evening on May 31st (Tuesday), Phil Ivey made a 6 part post on his Facebook page describing his lawsuit and his feelings on the current situation with Full Tilt Poker being slow to pay US players. 

Since that time most poker players and fans have shown support for Mr. Ivey while some, such as Scott Matusow have suggested that his current actions are just a case of Phil Ivey protecting himself and serving himself.  For example in the text of the lawsuit Phil Ivey only names himself as the recipient of the $150 million he is suing for.  This has led to Tiltware’s legal response (which is especially ill advised considering the lack of public support for Tiltware at the moment):

Contrary to his sanctimonious public statements, Phil Ivey’s meritless lawsuit is about helping just one player — himself.

Tiltware doubts Mr. Ivey’s frivolous and self-serving lawsuit will ever get to court. But if it does, the company looks forward to presenting facts demonstrating that Mr. Ivey is putting his own narrow financial interests ahead of the players he professes to help.

-Tiltware Response

 

Phil Ivey’s Facebook statement:

For many years, I have been proud to call myself a poker player. This great sport has taken me to places I only imagined going and I have been blessed with much success. It is therefore with deep regret that I believe I am compelled to release the following statement.

I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed that Full Tilt players have not been paid money they are owed. I am equally embarrassed that as a result many players cannot compete in tournaments and have suffered economic harm.

I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot. I am doing everything I can to seek a solution to the problem as quickly as possible.

My name and reputation have been dragged through the mud, through the inactivity and indecision of others and on behalf of all poker players I refuse to remain silent any longer. I have electronically filed a lawsuit against Tiltware related to the unsettled player accounts. As I am sure the public can imagine, this was not an easy decision for me.

I wholeheartedly refuse to accept non-action as to repayment of players funds and I am angered that people who have supported me throughout my career have been treated so poorly.

I sincerely hope this statement will ignite those capable of resolving the problems into immediate action and would like to clarify that until a solution is reached that cements the security of all players, both US and International, I will, as I have for the last six weeks, dedicate the entirety of my time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment.

Phil Ivey Facebook Posts 8pm May 31st, 2011

 

Ivey-Tiltware Complaint 060111

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Subject: Poker Reports That the Cake is a Lie! (And Ray Bitar Didn’t Get His Account Unfrozen)

doj_largeAround the 27th of May reports that the Department of Justice had unfrozen one of Ray Bitar’s accounts worth around 60 million.  This money would presumable be used to pay back the 150 million dollars owed to US players from Full Tilt.  However it appears that the DoJ did not unfreeze the account (as reported today by Subject: Poker):

 

 

 

The Public Information Office of the US Attorney's Office has informed Subject: Poker that NO deal has been struck with Full Tilt Poker to release or unfreeze any funds. eGaming Review Magazine reported Friday that an Irish bank account containing "more than a third of the US$100m to $150m still owed to US players" had been released to FTP. They cited an unnamed FTP source as having provided the information. The false story was widely reported on other gaming news sites, on social media, and on various poker forums. The rumor also lead to widespread speculation that Full Tilt's Monday announcement would include a timeline for the return of US player funds. It did not. The USAO representative made clear that funds had not been released and that any such action...

Subject: Poker

The other possibility is that one part of the DoJ is not talking to the other part of the DoJ.  The idea that they release a press release whenever they unfreeze a bank account sounds ridiculous on its face so another day or so will reveal the truth here.  In the mean time enjoy the chaos brought to you by the United States Department of Justice (Motto: we do what we must because we can?)

Full Tilt Posts 5/30/2011 Status Update on 2+2 Forums

TwoPlusTwo-Poker-ForumsThis new update really doesn’t change much.  They are acknowledging a lack of funds to pay players (which I thought most people understood by now, but based on the reaction of the 2+2 forum members many did not).  Some people are overreacting but the bottom line is that Full Tilt Poker WILL make good on their obligations to US players.  Now as to whether the rumor that they will make their first payments to US players sometime this week comes true only time will tell.

Here’s the full text of their update:

 

 

 

To our customers:

We acknowledge that our lack of communication reflects poorly on us, and rightfully so. We have been too optimistic in estimating how long it would take to sort through the issues we have faced since Black Friday. And as frustrating as the delays have been for us, we recognize that it cannot compare to the frustration you have been feeling.

We further recognize that our lack of communication has led to much speculation and many unsubstantiated rumors, which have often been contradictory. With this message, we hope to clear up as much confusion as we can, while at the same time keeping in mind the constraints imposed on us as a result of the cases brought in the Southern District of New York.

The most pressing questions:

1. When will the US players be paid?

We still do not have a specific timeframe for this. There has been, and remains, no bigger priority than getting US players paid as soon as possible, and we have been working around the clock to get this done. 

2. Is FTP bankrupt?

No. FTP's worldwide business is healthy and, although we've had some short-term challenges, it is operating as normal.

From: 
http://www.gamblingcontrol.org/userf...2020110516.pdf

"The AGCC’s investigation into the affairs of it licensee Vantage Limited, trading as Full Tilt.com, is ongoing; initial investigations indicate no reason to believe that player fund transactions are fundamentally threatened by any consequence of the US authorities' actions. Delays caused by these actions are in the process of resolution, with normal service now being restored for non-US players. We understand that progress in respect of US player fund repatriation is anticipated and will be the subject of a separate statement from Full Tilt in due course. The Commission will remain engaged in this process."

3. What is the company doing to speed up payouts to the US players?

We are raising capital to ensure that the US players are paid out in full as quickly as possible.

It is important to remember that Full Tilt Poker has always paid out our players, even in the face of previous legal obstacles or factors not in our control, such as payment processor defaults and prior actions by the US government which resulted in US player funds being seized.

In all of these previous instances, Full Tilt Poker has covered these losses and intends to do the same again.

4. Why are the Full Tilt Pros remaining silent?

It is not their choice. But they are constrained by the pending legal actions. 

As a final note, we understand -- and have always understood -- the effect that our brief statements have had not only on our customers, but also on our reputation. It has not been easy to stay silent and watch the damage being done to our company brand and personal reputations, but we need to be mindful of the complicated and serious legal issues raised in the pending cases.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It’s Saturday So What the Heck Is Going On In the Poker World?

USA Catches Its Breath from DoJ Attacks

Justice Department DOJThe original DoJ indictments targeted four cardrooms: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UltimateBet and Absolute Poker. Of those cardrooms they have temporarily returned the .com domain names to PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for the purposes of paying US players.  They also have an agreement with UltimateBet/Absolute Poker that those cardrooms will be allowed and able to return US player funds however the DoJ did not return their domain names.  Players can access them now at ubpoker.eu and absolutepoker.eu.
As far as returning funds goes only PokerStars has stepped up and actually accomplished this task so far.  It seems as though Full Tilt, UltimateBet and Absolute Poker are short on cash and looking to raise it either from the rake or (rumor has it for Full Tilt) by selling off part of the company.  In any case paying the funds owed to US players is a top priority for all these sites because they will lose the players in the rest of the world if they show they do not honor their player obligations.  There are other rumors and predictions that at least the beginning of a Full Tilt payoff for US players will happen by the start of the 2011 WSOP (that’s in just a few days so we will see).full-tilt-poker
This situation has also brought to light that Full Tilt (and possibly other cardrooms) does not segregate player funds from their operating capitol.  In the future having funds segregated until the cardroom actually “earns” the money through rake will be a must and hopefully a regulatory requirement which will eliminate these player payment issues.

Poker News Sites are Taking Advantage

I’ve seen several examples of poker news sites and blogs posting false news stories to make it look like their product is the one true cardroom and then blatantly post their affiliate link to this place at the end of their story.  Even news sites as large as www.cardplayer.com have been caught doing this with sites as lame as webcam poker or cardrooms on the Merge gaming network (which still serves US players).
I certainly understand the panic these places must feel in terms of paying their bills.  Right now almost 100% of all poker advertising income has ceased for the low limit poker sites that I own.  The big three cardrooms aren’t paying affiliates (yet) and once they do the player base won’t include US players which will reduce the amount of income for most US-based affiliates by anywhere from 75% to 95%.  I am  literally having trouble paying rent at the moment, but even so let’s have a little dignity and not mislead the very poker players we’ve always tried to help.  Ok?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yesterday’s PPA Protest in Washington D.C.

Yesterday (May 24, 2011) the Poker Player’s Alliance took Greg Raymer and dozens of other poker professionals to Washington to talk to senators, congressmen and really anyone who would listen about the issues on online poker and the recent crackdown by the Department of Justice on “Black Friday” April 15, 2011 against the three largest online poker rooms serving the United States.
The message of the PPA was one calling for regulation and taxation of online poker “now” and the message that many many Americans have been affected by the loss of either their income source or their hobby.
Did their trip have an impact?  None that is immediately apparent.  The machine that is going to license and regulate poker in the United States is already turning and at this point the PPA is like a child yelling at workers at an in-progress construction site to “keep building.”  “They will. They will.”
Forbes Blog Gets It Wrong RE: Doyle Brunson
Apparently Nathan Vardi wasn’t aware that Doyle has been distancing himself from Doyle’s Room since the April 15th action by the DoJ.  Some are saying he had inside knowledge there were going after targets closer to him but in any event he made it public he was severing ties with Doyle’s Room weeks ago.
Here’s the full Forbes Blog Entry

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Poker Players Alliance is in Washington DC Today

140px-PPA_logoEven though I don’t always (or lately often) agree with the direction and actions of the PPA I do support them today in Washington, especially on the heels of yesterdays astounding indictment of 10 more tiny poker and gambling sites (the most notable one being Doyle’s Room which Doyle Brunson distanced himself from a couple of weeks ago quite conveniently).
Please take the time today to go to the Poker Player Alliances TAKE ACTION page and lend support to the live people out in Washington DC today!

Keeping the Fear Alive

As far as most US online poker players are concerned, yesterday’s indictments had only a tiny effect at most.  By far the largest remaining online poker room that allows United States players is the Merge Network which includes Carbon Poker, RPM Poker, Lock Poker and several other skins.  Mysteriously they remain untouched.  Also surprisingly missing from recent persecution is Bodog, which had funds seized and was marked as “under investigation” in 2008.  So without making a big additional dent what the indictments have done is keep the spirit and feeling of “Black Friday” alive in the hearts of poker players.  Remind us that the government can step on us whenever it pleases regardless of how the public reacts (the govt. is supposed to work FOR the public right?) and also that it can ignore some pretty compelling legal issues against its cases as outlined in our recent post about Relentless Defense and their article on the legality and motivation of the Department of Justice’s actions on April 15, 2011.
According to what appears to be happening the land based casinos in Nevada will VERY soon be able to start licensing online poker for US citizens (but only against other US citizens). I have mixed feelings about this and will definitely go into it more as things develop, but mainly I don’t like the apparent corruption and synchronization between the government and these corporations.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, May 23, 2011

10 More Online Poker Rooms Indicted

bluff-logoFrom Bluff Magazine:

For those that thought the US crackdown on online poker would end at PokerStars, Full Tilt and the Cereus Poker Network, think again. Breaking news from Maryland indicates that three individuals affiliated with two online gaming companies are being indicted on charges of conducting an illegal gambling business and money laundering.

Monday the Department of Justice issued a statement announcing that Darren Wright and David Parchomchuk of BetEd and Ann Marie Puig of BMX Entertainment are being charged in two separate indictments. As part of the indictments, the Department of Justice seized 11 bank accounts located in Charlotte, North Carolina, Guam, Panama, Malta, Portugal, and the Netherlands as well as ten domain names. The domain names in question include a couple of recognizable sites, most notably DoylesRoom.com. Here is the complete list of domains seized:

Bookmaker.com, 2Betsdi.com, Funtimebingo.com. Goldenarchcasino.com, Truepoker.com, Betmaker.com, Betgrandesports.com, Doylesroom.com, Betehorse.com, and Beted.com.

The US Attorney for the District of Maryland, the IRS, and the Department of Homeland Security were all involved in building the case against online gaming software company ThrillX (DBA BetEd) and online payment processing company BMX Entertainment.

The investigation into the activities of the two companies included a sting operation in which the Department of Homeland Security set up a fake payment processing company called Linwood Payment Solutions. The company processed payments throughout 2009 both to and from the online poker sites. According to the affidavit, Linwood processed over $33 million in payments over the course of more than 300,000 transactions.

“It is illegal for internet gambling enterprises to do business in Maryland, regardless of where the website operator is located,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “We cannot allow foreign website operators to flout the law simply because their headquarters are based outside the country.”

Read the Full Story at Bluff Magazine

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nevada Assembly Passes Online Poker Bill

But don’t worry it’s corrupt and evil just like you’d think.

The bill that was passed is a modification of a previous version.  The previous version would let Nevada residents play online poker regardless of federal regulation, but the version that actually passed was essentially just a machine to grant licenses as soon as the federal government explicitly legalizes (the non explicitly illegal) online poker.  So essentially this is just a bill to get Nevada’s hand out and ready to grab some cash when the time comes.

The bill also, and this is the evil part, requires that sites seeking a Nevada license must have a partnership with an existing Nevada land based casino that has been in good standing with the gaming commission for at least five years.  So payola to the land casinos is now legally enforced.  All that’s missing is a federal bill that will allow Nevada to license cardrooms.  I wonder how long it will take that to pop up?  I’m guessing within 30 days—any takers?

Relentless Defense Writes “U.S. Attorney’s Office on Tilt”

us dept of justiceThe lawyers from the Relentless Defense website write an excellent article regarding the DoJ action against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and UltimateBet on April 15, 2011 debunking many charges and clarifying the legal situation and parallel the thoughts of I. Nelson Rose, an expert on Gambling and the Law (read his articles on www.gamblingandthelaw.com).

United States v. Scheinberg, et. al.

It has long been axiomatic that criminal statutes should be written in such a manner that there remains no ambiguity regarding the prohibited conduct.[1] After all, a person has a right to know exactly what conduct he may engage in without running afoul of power hungry prosecutors. While it has never been quite enough, it is this maxim that has occasionally restrained Federal prosecutors from using the strong-arm tactics of a Mafia Don. But not today.

Relying primarily on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) (31 U.S.C. §5361, et. al.) on April 15, 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Manhattan brazenly seized the websites of Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars, and Absolute Poker and unsealed indictments against eleven individuals, including the founders of the poker sites and four bankers, charging them with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking at least $3 billion in “civil money laundering penalties and forfeiture” from the poker sites and the defendants. Before moving on the poker sites, the U.S. Attorney’s Office secured restraining orders against at least 75 bank accounts allegedly used by the poker sites to process their payments.

For those who operated the sites and for those who played poker at their online tables, April 15th was characterized as “Black Friday.”

A criminal indictment is no small matter. The power to indict is the power to destroy. Those targeted today by the Federal government are unable to access much of their funds, making it difficult if not impossible for them to meet their obligations.  They stagger from the blows to their reputations, watch helplessly as their friends recoil from them, and awaken every morning to the crippling fear of incarceration. In our Federal courts the presumption of innocence is meaningless, for without a single conviction, these ruthless prosecutors have taken all these men have and threaten to confiscate whatever morsel they have so far missed. Even if exonerated, the damage done to these men is severe and very likely irreversible. Given this awesome power, one would hope that these prosecutors would not arbitrarily ruin the lives of their fellow citizens unless they were sure these individuals had violated a criminal statute.  Not so.

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