Some of you may have read recently that the US Government has indicted the founders of online poker companies such as PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker for fraud. In a nutshell, the government is saying that these eleven founders are guilty of “bank fraud” and “money laundering”. Here is the article in its entirety.
What does this mean for the future of online poker? Well, I am not the one to answer that question; though I’m sure it cannot be good. What strikes me as interesting is that everyone should have seen this coming for years now.
In 2006 when the US Government during the Bush Administration put into law, quite deceitfully, I may add, the anti-online gaming ban, which was buried deep in the SAFE Port Act, many online poker sites shut their doors to US customers. But, these triumvirs kept their doors open to US citizens. Whether it was their intention or not, this public act of defiance seemed a slap in the face to the US Government. Anyone, including these eleven founders, who believed that the US government would sit idly in D.C. while these contumacious poker gods continued to service US customers was kidding themselves.
The moment the triumvirate blatantly refused to shut down when given the opportunity, it is conceivable to believe that the government immediately began to put a case together to get the online poker sites shut down in any way they could – and what a case they have.
“As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Regardless if you agree or disagree with the law, these online poker sites broke US law; and, if you’re a law-abiding citizen, then it is easy to say that they deserve to be prosecuted. I am no expert, but I can see the writing on the wall. Unless the founders can produce some Johnny Cochran-like attorneys, it is likely when all is said and done that all three sites will be shut down, at a minimum, to US customers.
So, get your online poker on while you can.
On a tangential note, the US government has huge debt. By regulating online poker, one can imagine how much money the government could make in taxes just off of the poker sites’ profits alone. I am not one for the government to get in the way of my online poker playing, but if it keeps online poker available to US citizens, government regulation most definitely beats the alternative.