In a shocking announcement made on April 15, the FBI closed the three biggest online poker sites. Those affected UltimateBet, Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. The owners of the sites and its financial officers (total 15 people so far) were charged with bank fraud, illegal gambling offenses, and money laundering. Restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts used by the poker companies and their payment processors.
Both Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker stated that US players will be able to withdraw any remaining funds from their accounts. This is according to the latest information provided by Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker who compromised a deal with the Department of Justice allowing them to reopen their domains so that funds can be returned to US players. As for Absolute Poker, no such deal has been made and the release of funds has yet to be determined. It was further reported that at no time were player’s funds block furthering the chances of US players to receive their refunds soon. It was also stated that non-US players can still play for real money at these sites. PokerStars released FAQs for US players - most of the important questions are answered there.
While Full Tilt Poker and Poker Stars have reopened its online sites for non-US players, they have also stated they are in the process of refunding US player’s accounts. What about Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet Poker? In a statement announced on Thursday, April 21, both online poker sites stated that their priority is to refund accounts for US players, and both are consulting with US attorneys towards this end. Moreover, the US attorney has assured both parties they will agree to the same conditions for refunding US players as they did with Full Tilt and Poker Stars.
So far there is no change for the several respectable US friendly poker sites like
Check out the list of the poker rooms opened to US players after "Black Friday".
Charges ranged from bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. According to sources, fines can range in the millions of dollars. These charges are based on the UIGEA Law of 2006 banning banks and credit card institutions from aiding in the transference of money between the operators of said sites and gamblers. The indictments brought against these poker sites were unsealed yesterday (April 15) in Manhattan Federal Court, and contain a host of offenses leveled against gamblers from the US and Canada. More importantly, bank accounts have been frozen in more than a dozen countries that utilized these gambling sites. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.
The owners of the three largest poker sites online – Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were indicted yesterday, April 15, on charges of bank fraud, illegal gambling, and money laundering. This, according to Federal authorities and the Manhattan Federal Court. More than 75 bank accounts were issued restraining orders along with their payment processors. Additionally, the five domain names used by poker companies were seized by the federal authorities. The indictment reads in part,“An indictment charging eleven defendants, including the founders of the three largest Internet poker companies doing business in the United States – Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker (the "Poker Companies") - with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. The United States also filed a civil money laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint (the "Civil Complaint") against the Poker Companies, their assets, and the assets of several payment processors for the Poker Companies.
In addition, restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors, and five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to host their illegal poker games were seized…..” The FBI agent in charge also stated that “These defendants, knowing full well that their business with U.S. customers and U.S. banks was illegal, tried to stack the deck. They lied to banks about the true nature of their business. Then, some of the defendants found banks willing to flout the law for a fee. The defendants bet the house that they could continue their scheme, and they lost.”
Following the indictments several TV broadcasters are shutting down poker related shows. ESPN has announced that it has removed all poker-related advertising. PokerStars sponsored North American Poker Tour was due to start on ESPN2 and run for 35 days was canceled. Fox network will not be showing The Big Game or the Million Dollar Challenge.
According to reports, this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) though. "2011 WSOP will air on ESPN without interruption...in fact, many new TV enhancements coming...stay tuned."