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Old 04-16-2011, 08:44 PM
Hoolie Hoolie is offline
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The founders of three of the world’s largest poker websites have been charged with fraud and may be ordered to repay $3bn (£1.8bn) of “illegal” gambling profits.

The founders of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker could face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty of breaching US anti-gambling and money laundering laws


US investigators said the websites, two of which are registered in the UK, had “concocted an elaborate criminal fraud” to trick and bribe banks into “massive money laundering and bank fraud”.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) seized the companies’ bank accounts and took control of their US websites, which now display an FBI warning about the illegality of online gambling.


It is against the law for US citizens to gamble online, but many Americans have continued to bet via foreign websites operating illegally.


Analysts said the DoJ probe was “great news” for British gambling companies that have not sought to circumvent US laws because authorities are likely to “reward” them if and when regulated online gambling is introduced in the US.


Warwick Bartlett, chief executive of Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, said: “The likes of Bwin.Party, Betfair, Ladbrokes and William Hill, which have not illegally taken bets in the US, are more likely to win licences there.”

British poker sites are also expected to see a return of big-spending European poker players, known as whales, who had been attracted to Full Tilt, PokerStars and Absolute because it gave them the chance to play against America’s most famous players. “Now that the big American whales won’t be there, Full Tilt and the others have lost one of the key attractions,” said a gambling industry source.

Online poker chat rooms suggest European players are already withdrawing funds from the affected sites. British websites expect to experience a big uplift in players tonight, traditionally the biggest night of the week for online poker. Preet Bharara, a US attorney, said: “These defendants are alleged to have concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some US banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits.

“Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in money laundering and bank fraud.”

The DoJ alleges that the companies and 11 men charged in connection with the crime, tricked, lied and colluded with banks to transfer the stakes and proceeds of gambling.

“These defendants, knowing that their business with US customers and US banks was illegal, tried to stake the deck,” said Janice Fedarcyk, the head of the FBI’s New York office.

Raymond Bitar, chief executive of Full Tilt, said yesterday he was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision to bring the charges and said he looked forward to his “exoneration”. The other companies did not comment.

The other defendants include Isai Scheinberg, the 64-year-old founder of PokerStars; Paul Tate, a PokerStars employee; Nelson Burtnick, of Full Tilt Poker and Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of Absolute Poker.







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 abidingby 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.
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Old 04-17-2011, 12:31 AM
Jizay Jizay is offline
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So ridiculous. When are they gonna leave people alone to gamble?
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