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Showing posts with label online poker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label online poker. Show all posts

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Full Tilt Officially Sold to the Groupe Bernard Tapie for 80 Million: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

The on-the-surface good news is that the sale of Full Tilt Poker has been finalized and all players will (when is still unclear) be receiving the money from their player accounts.  The new agreement with the US Department of Justice prevents existing directors to hold shares in the new company, and GBT will have to relicense Full Tilt to start doing business again although that should be a very minor hurdle.

The frightening news for US players is the way the deal is structured.

What GBT and Full Tilt have done is essentially forfeited all assets of Full Tilt Poker to the US DOJ and then the DOJ is in turn selling Full Tilt back to GBT for 80M.  The player balances will be paid back by Groupe Bernard Tapie if they are outside of the US and will be paid back by the DOJ if they are inside the US.

Why is this scary?  Let me count the ways:

  1. Most significantly the US DOJ not only has a complete accounting of your player income from Full Tilt now but they will be cutting you a check.  If you are in the US, and are owed a lot of money, this may send a shiver up your spine when you consider the tax and legal ramifications. 

    You might as well consider that you are receiving a 1099 for the amount of your check when you receive it and good luck convincing the IRS that you lost a similar amount on the site earlier to offset those winnings.
  2. What standing does the DOJ have to receive forfeited property and then resell it without public access or review?  In other words if the DOJ confiscates a yacht it would normally be sold at a public auction and not to one specific buyer.  A non public process like the one that took place invites corruption in the DOJ.
  3. When last checked some player balances were not restored to their correct amounts.  It may be difficult or impossible to fix these issues when the DoJ is in control of the disbursements.

Since the deal was just announced hopefully there will be some clarification on these and other issues, but for now it might not be the time to get out the party hats.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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…

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.

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?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Iowa Signs an Online Poker Study into Law

 

From Internet-Poker.co.uk - Iowa Online Poker Study Signed Into Law

Iowa is looking to see how an intrastate (Iowans playing other Iowans) online poker option will affect the state and its existing gambling enterprises.  I think in general these intrastate attempts will fail (the possible exception would be the very densely populated states like California).  Even a intra-country system where people in the US can only play other people in the US is a bad move in my opinion.  What definitely works are sites where people from anywhere in the world can sit down and play poker against each other.

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

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?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Full Tilt Poker Updates Status of US Player Withdrawals on Two Plus Two Forum

logo_fulltiltpokerThe short version is that they aren’t ready yet and there’s no set date for the next update. FTPDoug on the twoplustwo forum posted this update late Sunday May 15th (read the full version on twoplustwo here):

When are we getting our money back?

- Here's the official statement about where we currently stand on US withdrawals:

"Since April 15th and the days immediately following, Full Tilt Poker faced numerous challenges and hurdles to ensuring the smooth operation of its international business and the orderly return of US player funds. FTP has worked tirelessly to address these issues and has made significant progress on both fronts. 

FTP's international business operations are returning to normal while we focus on ensuring the safe and orderly return of US player deposits. We are absolutely committed to making sure that US players are refunded as soon as possible. We apologize for the delay and the fact that we underestimated the time it would take to work through these issues. We will update our US players when we have more specific information to provide."

And what's going to happen with our points?

- We will be opening up the FTP Store to US players again. All of the details haven't been worked out yet, but this is how you will be able to use your points. It's expected that everything in the store will be available for purchase except for bonuses and tickets. We will be sure to keep everyone updated when we know more, including when the store will re-open.

Where we're at in terms of reconciling US player accounts:

  • All promos have been paid out. That includes Take 2, Tournament Leaderboards, Cash Back, and the FTOPS Satellite Challenge payments.
  • T$ and Ticket conversion has started, but is a slower process and will continue through next week.
  • Pending rakeback payments should also happen next week, but only after all of the store purchases that need to be refunded have been refunded.
  • Iron Man medals have been distributed for April's play. Iron Man freeroll tickets will be converted to medals before all medals are converted to FTPs.
Other answers for US players:

1. what bout my cashout on April 15th that obviously hasn't come AND has not been put back into my account?!

- All cashouts that were never received (or checks that were received but couldn't be deposited) should be placed back into your Full Tilt account this coming week.

2. Can there be an "opt-out" for the medals/points conversions? Since it looks like there won't be a forced cash-out for relocating players, can we just keep our accounts intact?

- There is no opt-out for the medals conversion, but we won't be forcing anyone to use their points if they'd prefer waiting until they can play again to use them.

3. what about FTP store purchases made prior to April 15th, but weren't sent out yet and put on hold. Are we going to get FTPs back for those or are you going to start sending those out soon?

- We are going to cancel and give the FTPs (or medals) back for any store purchases that have not yet shipped.

4. you tell us we'll get our pending rakeback, but what about reimbursement for rakeback hits for store items that haven't and won't come?

- We will make sure any MGR hit is reversed on any store shipments that have to be cancelled. This is one of the reasons the final rakeback payments were delayed.

5. if we final tabled a FTOPS or MiniFTOPS event in the last series, will people in the United States still receive the jacket that they are supposed to get?

- Yes, these will still be sent out.

6. Posting to make sure you don't forget about PMI Doug. Also an update on that would be nice as last week you said people were still working on it.

- We have confirmed that the recurring charge will not happen again. As far as we can tell it didn't happen in April, so that's a good sign. There is still an ongoing investigation into exactly what happened and how.

7. just noticed the "my promotions" page doesn't work either. not sure how they can get the academy, iron man stuff right without these pages functioning.

- I'm looking into this.

Answers for non-US players:

8. Moneybookers?

- Moneybookers has been turned back on for some countries. Once it's confirmed everything is flowing smoothly more countries will be added.

9. CAN YOU PLEASE INCREASE THE MAX BUYIN FOR RUSH.

- There are no plans for this at the moment, sorry.

10. I think the tournament time shifts are definitely a good idea. However, you need to shift more than just a few of the majors. By shifting just these few tournaments it actually makes the tourney schedule considerably more inconvenient.

- What "normal" tournaments do you feel are missing from earlier times? Most US prime time tournaments have a Euro prime time equivalent already, so we didn't think shifting the entire schedule was necessary. If there are particular tournaments you think the Euro friendlier schedule is still missing, though, let us know and we can shift the later version or just add a new version of it at an earlier time.

11. Will this effect Iron Man freerolls as well

- Yeah, Iron Man freerolls will start a few hours earlier than they used to.

12. What’s going to happen to the Cash Back Bonus for those people who are planning to be in the US for the whole of the WSOP? Are FTP going to make a 1-time exception so we don't lose it?

- We'll figure something out to make sure you don't lose it.

13. I see the 150 seats to the WSOP has been removed. Are you planning on doing something like a 50 or 75 Gtd?

- No plans for that, no. The entire WSOP promotion has been scaled back, and that larger qualifier was one of the casualties.

14. Not sure if this has already been posted; but if you select this option [Auto-Close SNGs] & play a matrix, when 1 table closes the whole tourney shuts down?

- One of the small updates last week was to address this bug. It should work fine now, sorry about that.

15. Can you please give back some incentives for table starters

- I'll look into it again for sure.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Caesars Hypocritical Stance on Online Poker

caesars-palaceHartley Henderson has written an interesting editorial on Caesars recent calls to for pro-online poker federal legislation even though they’ve partnered with one of the offshore baddies (888.com).

 

Read it here: Caesars Hypocritical Stance on Online Gambling is still Confusing

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Shutdown of Internet Poker Hurts Players

Las Vegas Journal Review

It's a standard recession-era tale of woe: A company closes and workers lose their income.

But there's little else conventional about what has happened to North Las Vegan Mike Ziethlow.

Ziethlow earns a living through Internet poker, playing for cash on websites such as PokerStars and FullTilt and selling poker-training software.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday April 20th, 2011: PPA Claims Victory Over Evildoers! (But was really just sitting there eating a pizza)

 

Today the following email went out from the PPA:

4-20-2011 1-42-37 PM

The PPA here somehow want us to believe that the outcry of email and letters from us has caused the Department of Justice to change its mind and let US players get money out of their accounts.  Uh, no.  Clearly that was their plan the entire time.

What apparently is happening is the DoJ is setting things up so that there will be no legal opportunity to decide the legality of online poker (they say it is illegal, most legal experts say it is not) because in order to do so the poker rooms would have to risk one or more of their founders and the stakes for them are quite high.

Basically get the hell out of the US, never come back, and we promise your old US customers can get the money you owe them and we promise not to interfere with your future international (non-US) poker business.  It’s a tough deal to pass up when the alternative is the possibility of half your life in prison.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Professor I. Nelson Rose Talks About Current Black Friday DOJ Attacks on Online Poker


Federal Poker Indictments: Revisiting Prohibition

The timing is suspicious.

March saw Nevada regulators approving a partnership between Caesars and 888, and Wynn announcing a joint venture with PokerStars.  Now comes the indictments, three-billion-dollar civil suit and seizures of domain names by the feds.  Wynn immediately cancelled his plans.  Players were panicked.

Which was, of course, the goal.

If the allegations are true, the operators brought this on themselves, by lying and bribing bank officials. Of course, the prosecutors have the problem of convincing a jury that there is bank fraud when the "victims" are tricked into making millions of dollars.

And will this be the end of Internet poker?  Did Prohibition end drinking?

Prohibition created modern organized crime, by outlawing alcoholic beverages.  When people want something and it is illegal, organizations will arise to fill the demand.  How much more so when the activity, online poker, is not even clearly illegal?

Every action by the U.S. federal government makes it more difficult for it to go after the next operator.  The UIGEA, rammed through by the failed politician Bill Frist (R.-TN), can be seen as an anti-consumer-protection law, because it scared all of the publicly traded gaming companies out of the U.S. market.  Then prosecutors went after payment processors, making it more difficult for players to find legitimate ways to send their money to betting sites.

Now the feds have seized .com domain names and charged operators with bank fraud.  So, gaming sites are switching to .eu and .uk, and cutting off all physical contact with the U.S.  Even the present American operators can’t be extradited, so what hope is there for the DoJ to bring future foreign operators here to stand trial?

The Grand Jury has been meeting for at least a year.  The criminal indictment against PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute and their founders, was unsealed by the U.S. Attorney for New York on April 15, but bore a date-stamp of March 10.  So why now?

Besides the Caesars-888 and Wynn-PokerStars agreements, the Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee recently approved a bill to regulate online poker.  And the District of Columbia actually made it legal.

The DoJ has been waging a war of intimidation against Internet gambling for years, successfully scaring players, operators, payment processors and affiliates into abandoning the American market.  Lacking the two essentials to any prosecution – a statute that clearly makes the activity illegal and a defendant physically present in the U.S. – the feds have announced showy legal action against easy targets about every other year.

Online poker is not an easy target, since a federal Court of Appeal ruled the Wire Act is limited to bets on sports events.  And tricking financial institutions into processing poker payments seems a technicality, especially since the banks made millions without paying a penny in fines.

But getting a bank to agree to process gambling transactions in return for a $10 million investment is an easier case, if true.  I can understand approaching a small bank – so small that the officer and part-owner who allegedly arranged the deal, asked for, and received, only $20,000 for his “bonus.”  But why would you do this in Utah, of all states?

There are lots of interesting nuggets in the legal papers.  The DoJ claims that one-third of the billions of dollars players deposited went to the operators through the rake.  That number seems high, but if true, it explains why everyone wants to operate an online poker room, with few expenses and no chance of losing to a lucky gambler.

Most of the activities cited occurred after the passage of the UIGEA.  This is a subtle acknowledgment that operators who left the U.S. in 2006 have nothing to fear.

Even if there was a bribe, the feds are still going to have to prove that the poker was illegal.  Since the Wire Act won’t work, prosecutors used 18 U.S.C. 1955, which makes it a federal felony if five or more people do more than $2,000 in business a day in violation of state gambling laws.  The indictment relies on "New York Penal Law 225 and 225.05 and the laws of other states." There is a “thank you” to the Washington State Gambling Commission, indicating that the DoJ is probably going to piggyback on that state’s 2006 law outlawing all Internet gambling, as well.

The Washington statute was upheld by the State Supreme Court.  Still, there are problems.  State laws are presumed not to reach beyond their borders.  And even if Internet poker is illegal in that state, it is quite a leap to seize domain names for the entire country and threaten bank accounts in places like Panama.

The only state with a law better than Washington’s is Nevada.  But basing this attack on Internet poker on Nevada law would look like it was motivated by the landbased casinos.  After all, who are the big winners here?

We will probably see the first attacks on the indictments from the two defendants who were arrested, the Utah banker and the Nevada payment processor who allegedly bribed him, when they fight extradition to New York.  And the poker operators will undoubtedly fight to get their .com names back for the rest of the world.

The operators will never stand trial.  The only U.S. extradition treaty I have found that covers illegal gambling is with Hong Kong.  Calling it bank fraud won’t work, since the defendants can show their local courts that it is based on gambling.  And it is fundamental to all extraditions that the activity be illegal in both countries.  No nation will extradite an individual to be tried for the very activity that that nation licenses.

There may not even be a settlement.  The DoJ accepted $405 million from PartyGaming and one of its founders and $100 million from Neteller and its founders.  But those companies had already left the U.S. gaming markets.  The DoJ will insist on a guilty plea to something, which might kill the operators’ chances of getting licensed when American laws change.  And no amount of money will buy them the right to open up again without a change in the law.  So what would these operators get from a settlement, other than not having to be worried about getting arrested changing planes?

It will be interesting to watch the fallout.  There are a lot of famous American poker players and others who are associated with the indicted operators.  They should be getting their affairs in order.

Meanwhile, like a raid by Elliot Ness on breweries and speakeasies during Prohibition, there are now wonderful opportunities for new operators to fill the vacuum.  Unless, of course, Americans are actually going to stop playing poker on the Internet.


© Copyright 2011, I. Nelson Rose, Encino, California.  All rights reserved worldwide.  Gambling and the Law® is a registered trademark of Professor I. Nelson Rose, www.GamblingAndTheLaw.com.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Full Tilt Poker Responds to DOJ Online Poker Raids

 

Full Tilt Poker™ Supports Poker Players And Its Chief Executive

Dublin Ireland (April 15, 2011) - Full Tilt Poker is saddened by today's charges against its CEO Raymond Bitar and offers its full support to Mr. Bitar and Nelson Burtnick.

Online poker is a game of skill enjoyed by tens of millions of people in the United States and across the world. And, Full Tilt Poker remains as committed as ever to preserving the rights of those players to play the game they love online.

Mr. Bitar and Full Tilt Poker believe online poker is legal - a position also taken by some of the best legal minds in the United States. Full Tilt Poker is, and has always been committed to preserving the integrity of the game and abiding by the law.

"I am surprised and disappointed by the government's decision to bring these charges. I look forward to Mr. Burtnick's and my exoneration", said Mr. Bitar.

Unfortunately, as a result of this action, Full Tilt Poker has decided that it must suspend "real money" play in the United States until this case is resolved. However, Full Tilt Poker will continue to provide peer-to-peer online poker services outside of the United States.
For more information, please call +442032877138

About Full Tilt Poker

Full Tilt Poker™ is the host of a worldwide virtual poker cardroom service. It is not in the business of betting or wagering and does not participate in the games as a player. It merely provides a service to those who wish to test their skills against others for fun, prizes or money. It is duly regulated and licensed by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. With innovative graphics, superior customer service and a safe, secure interface, the software is geared to enhance and personalize the online poker experience. Although virtual poker is legal where the games are hosted and played, it may not be legal where individual players are located.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The morning after the US Department of Justice launched its weapons of mass destruction at online poker.

Where we are, where we’re likely to be going and what’s it all mean.

Right now the sites affected include PokerStars, UltimateBet renamed recently to UB.com, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.  As of this moment all of these domains are coming up with this DOJ web page:
4-15-2011 3-17-31 PM
PokerStars has blocked all US customers from playing on their site and Full Tilt Poker has reported that it will make a similar block sometime in the very near future.  There has been no comment from UltimateBet/Absolute Poker. 
It seems as though this insta-blocking of US customers is an attempt to dissuade the DOJ from going after all the poker rooms assets and using Interpol(!) to arrest the lead people from all four sites.  Obviously if this occurs it will mean a giant shakeup in the online poker industry not just for US players but for people worldwide.  Online poker will survive of course but the landscape may look very different in six months then it does now.
Obviously this affects a lot of people not the least of which is MellowYellow (the PokerStars player this blog tracked through most of last year and who finally achieved SuperNova elite status though hardcore 24-table poker playing). They are now unable to play in the US and may in fact lose all the value from their efforts last year.
We are recommending that if you disagree with this DOJ action you immediately contact your congressman and senators.

Friday, April 15, 2011

US Federal Government Lowers the HAMMER on Top 3 Online Poker Rooms

 

Full Tilt, Pokerstars and Absolute Poker up on charges

The United States Department of Justice created an indictment against the top 3 USA online poker rooms accusing them of fraud, money laundering and more.  This could effectively and immediately shut down the still thriving US online poker scene and rattle a nest of hornets that the DOJ may wish they hadn’t touched.

The full text of the indictments are here:

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/April11/scheinbergetalindictmentpr.pdf

Friday, December 10, 2010

In General I Like the PPA but COME ON…

Yesterday the Poker Players Alliance www.theppa.org sent out an email talking about the chances that a poker licensing bill or “legalization” bill would pass during the lame duck session of congress.  One bill that is attracting a lot of attention on the www.twoplustwo.com forums is by Senator Reid (a known opponent of online gambling).  In it he includes a 15 month blackout period which means that all the major online poker rooms would be forbidden from servicing the United States for 15 months.  Yes, not a great deal if you depend on online poker for your income!

The PPA said this:

Let me assure you that we have heard and strongly considered the concerns a number of our online poker playing members have raised, specifically regarding the 15 month "blackout period" contained in the draft bills that have circulated in recent days.  The blackout period means that upon enactment of the proposed internet poker law there would be fifteen months where NO licensed Internet poker would be available to U.S. players.  In all likelihood, some of the web sites where you currently play would leave the market so they can go through the process of obtaining a U.S. license and then re-enter the market after the 15 month blackout period.  

Which I found pretty offensive.  After all, why does the PPA event exist if its job is just to pay lip service and then essentially let the chips fall where they may? 

I wrote them an email and it is my sincere hope that you write them one too… Here’s mine:

I received the most recent PPA update including Reid’s bill which would put a 15 month blackout on online poker in the United States.  From your email earlier today:

Frankly, the proposed blackout period is absurd and the PPA opposes it. And we have fought – and continue to fight – tooth and nail against it. But it is a reality. There will likely be a blackout period of some length included in any legislation that is passed, whether it is in this Congress or future Congresses. Our opponents have been throwing their weight around to get a lengthy blackout period included and, unfortunately, I fear they are winning.

That sure  sounds like an organization  that ISN’T really going to fight such a horrible and devastating clause especially for people currently involved with internet poker (especially AFFILIATES of advertisers of online cardrooms as well as those poker players who provide their sole income from internet poker).  For myself an affiliate AND a poker player a 100% blackout of the major sites like Full Tilt, PokerStars and UB.com would financially destroy me.

I hope the PPA does more than play LIP SERVICE to this and fight hard against blackout periods, etc. for internet poker sites.  Whatever goal the blackout period is attempting to achieve can probably be achieved through some other method so let’s get out there and put alternatives on the table.

Kelly Stanonik

http://www.lowlimitholdem.com

Licensing can happen without a blackout period and I have yet to hear one legitimate reason for a blackout period except to punish cardrooms that currently service the United States, even though we do not have a clear internet gambling law. That includes the UIGEA which doesn’t make it illegal for citizens to play and only passed because it was tagged to a critical bill.

My best advice is to join the Poker Players Alliance and then make your voice heard to them that you want legal licensed online poker here NOW without conditions or punishments.

www.theppa.org