Bitcoin Poker Boss to Plead Guilty

Seals With ClubsBryan Micon appeared yesterday in a Las Vegas court and agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor related to operating an unlicensed poker site.

Originally charged with a felony that carried the maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines, Micon’s plea deal with prosecutors calls for probation, a $25,000 fine, and forfeiture of electronic equipment, $900 in a cash, and almost $800 in Bitcoin seized in a raid on his Nevada home in February.

The raid carried out by law enforcement at the behest of state gaming regulators stemmed from Micon’s role as chairman of Seals With Clubs, an online poker site that processed financial transactions in Bitcoin. The virtual currency is unregulated, which likely led Micon to believe that a license was not required.

Seals With Clubs accepted players worldwide – including the U.S. – and achieved modest success before the raid forced Micon and his business partners to fold their cards and shut the site down. Virtual cards were in the air once again shortly thereafter when Micon relocated to the Caribbean island of Antigua with his family and opened a new Bitcoin-friendly site called SwCPoker.

Only in operation a few months, SwCPoker has failed to attract even one-fourth the player traffic of Seals With Clubs, according to estimates provided by the industry’s premier traffic-tracking website. While no players were left unpaid in the shutdown of the original Bitcoin-friendly site, it appears that players fear for the safety of their funds.

Micon initially appeared eager to fight the charge lodged against him in Nevada, claiming he had done nothing wrong in carrying out functions pertaining to operating a poker site while based in Las Vegas. He had already relocated to Antigua when a warrant for his arrest was issued.

The online poker entrepreneur asked for the public’s help in fighting the allegation, establishing a website to accept donations on GoFundMe. Only $4,000 of a goal of $100,000 was raised before GoFundMe put an end to the endeavor for reasons that remain unclear.

Perhaps the lack of support, in addition to the state of Nevada’s zeal to prosecute by announcing the charge at a press conference, led to Micon giving up the fight and agreeing to a plea deal. Also a factor, of course, was the possibility of becoming a convicted felon as well as spending time behind bars if the case had gone to trial and Micon was found guilty.

The next court date, according to Vegas Inc., is July 6, at which time the judge is expected to sign off on the guilty plea and set the length of probation. Micon will likely have to remain in Nevada during the probationary period.

The fate of SwCPoker remains unknown, as does Bitcoin as an alternative mode of currency in the online gaming industry. The crypto-currency’s use and popularity has grown in recent months at online poker and gambling sites, but worldwide acceptance and the possible regulation of Bitcoin remain speculative, at best.