The US poker community is still left reeling after Friday’s seizure of the domains belonging to the four largest online poker sites, and arrests of the owners behind them. On Friday visitors to the domains PokerStars.com, FullTiltPoker.com, UB.com (UltimateBet.com was also seized) and AbsolutePoker.com were greeted with an F.B.I landing page notifying them that the domains had been seized.
The reason the domains have been seized is because of the UIGEA which was introduced by US Congress in 2006. The UIGEA made it illegal for US players to gamble for real-money online, however the mentioned sites continued to accept US players and now the owners of the sites are facing a range of charges which include illegal gambling, money laundering and bank fraud.
Those arrested include PokerStars’ Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate, Full Tilt Poker’s Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick, and Absolute Poker’s Scott Tom and Brent Beckley, and several others. So far the total number of people arrested is 11 and each of them could face up to 30 years in jail, with the US government seeking $3 billion in money laundering penalties.
The companies have also had 76 bank accounts in 14 countries shut down which will stop the flow of billions of dollars into their sites. The sites have been accused by authorities of disguising gambling payments and deceiving banks into processing payments by creating fake companies and websites claiming to be retailers, selling items such as jewellery and golf balls.
According to various media outlets, Australian payment processor Daniel Tzvetkoff could be the person responsible for the domain seizures and Federal indictments. He owns a company called Intabill which was processing payments for Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker. He was arrested last year for the same criminal charges that the poker site owners are now facing, however after a ‘secret’ meeting he was released on bail. Many now think that he has provided the authorities with the information they needed to close down the sites and find them guilty in an attempt to save himself from any charges.
Quickly after the news that Full Tilt and PokerStars close to usa players, hundreds of thousands of online poker players were left without their favourite sites to play at.
As usual, stay tuned to PokerNewsReport.com for the latest on this story as it develops.