Entries in Online Gambling (4)


What’s Next After Nevada Legalizes Online Interstate Gaming

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CARSON CITY, Nev.) -- Now that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed legislation legalizing online interstate gaming, what’s next for online poker fans in the United States?

The state’s legislators and Sandoval rushed to pass and sign AB114 on Thursday, authorizing Nevada to enter into compacts with other states to offer Internet poker, ahead of New Jersey’s similar efforts.

On Feb. 7, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had vetoed an online gambling bill but could sign another version next week.

U.S. online gambling nearly halted after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was implemented.

But the Department of Justice issued a letter in 2011 stating that the federal Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting.

With passage of Nevada’s new legislation, “the U.S. online gambling industry has been reborn,” said Ken LaMance, attorney and managing editor for the LegalMatch Law Library.

Nevada’s bill removes a state provision that requires federal legislation or approval from the Department of Justice before online gaming licenses are made active. The legislation requires the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations authorizing Gov. Sandoval to make the agreements with other states.

LaMance said he expects New Jersey to pass similar legislation in the coming weeks.

“The only question now is how many other U.S. states will pass similar online gambling legislation allowing online gambling companies to operate in their state, or allow their citizens to participate in this online gambling in Nevada or New Jersey,” LaMance said.

What does this all mean for poker fans and other states?

“We’re currently in unchartered waters,” LaMance said.

A few states have passed legislation prohibiting residents from engaging in online gambling, like Illinois and Louisiana but, LaMance said, that could change. However, the federal government can pass its own regulations that would preempt state law, including that of Nevada.

“But this seems unlikely since the federal government has traditionally left gambling regulation to the individual states,” he said.

LaMance said legislation and enforcement have previously only targeted online companies, not individuals, from engaging in online gambling.

“With the large number of online companies likely sprouting up in Nevada, online gambling players are going to have abundant options, with the added security of knowing their money is stored domestically and not in some questionable offshore account,” he said.

The Nevada law authorizes private companies to operate online gambling sites in Nevada after they pay the state a fee. Certain companies that have been operating illegal online gambling companies will be barred from participation for five years, after which they can apply for a license.

“There is so much money at stake that I anticipate there will be a tidal wave of new companies entering this very lucrative market,” LaMance said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


PokerStars in $731M Money-Laundering Settlement

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- PokerStars has agreed to a $731 million money-laundering settlement with the U.S. government that includes reimbursement for some customers whose funds were frozen when the feds cracked down on the gambling sites.

PokerStars also will acquire the assets of its former competitor, Full Tilt Poker, as part of the agreement, the companies said today.

On April 15, 2011, the Department of Justice shut down PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker, the three largest online poker companies operating in the U.S., alleging illegal gambling and money laundering, and cutting off a source of income for online professional gamblers across the country.

Under the settlement, PokerStars will pay $547 million over three years to the U.S. and must make available to foreign players all balances, about $184 million, that were held in the Full Tilt accounts within 90 days, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. players at Full Tilt must apply to the Department of Justice for reimbursement.

“Acquiring certain assets of Full Tilt Poker strengthens PokerStars, brings welcome relief to Full Tilt Poker players who have been waiting over 12 months for repayment of their money, and benefits the entire poker community,” Mark Scheinberg, chairman of PokerStars, said in a statement.

PokerStars has remained open for players outside the U.S. players and repaid its U.S. customers after operations were halted.

Earlier this month, Full Tilt Poker CEO Raymond Bitar was charged with promising players that their funds would be protected in “segregated” accounts when the company used the money to pay for Full Tilt operations and to pay Bitar and other owners over $430 million. When Bitar willingly came to the U.S. from the company’s headquarters in Ireland, he said he would cooperate with authorities to return players’ money.

“We are pleased to announce these settlements by Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, which allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

The $547 million will be payable over three years.

PokerStars plans to re-launch Full Tilt Poker in most markets as a separate brand, following the appointment of a new, independent management team.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Shutdown Poker Sites to Return Poker Players' Money

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two of the three online poker sites shut down by the government last week have cut a deal to return players' money, the Justice Department in New York said Wednesday.

The agreements allow for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to use the and domain names to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players' funds held in accounts with the companies, according to the statement.

"No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player's deposited funds," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharra said in a statement. "In fact, this office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today's agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate."

While only two of the three companies were named in the announcement, the U.S. Attorney's office said that "the government stands to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker if it so chooses."

Under the deal, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker agreed that "they would not allow for, facilitate, or provide the ability for players located in the United States to engage in playing online poker for 'real money' or any other thing of value."

Last week, the Justice Department filed a complaint for money laundering, fraud, and violating the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act against 11 individuals who run PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Internet Poker Companies Indicted for Fraud, Money Laundering

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -– The owners and founders of the three largest online gambling sites in the United States have been indicted and charged with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offenses.

Eleven individuals were charged over their involvement running PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker for violating the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

According to a federal indictment, the owners of the companies sought ways to get around restrictions placed on U.S. banks that prohibited them from handling financial transactions connected to online gambling.

Isai Scheinber and Paul Tate of PokerStars, Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of Absolute Poker, and Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick of Full Tilt Poker, the indictment claims, engaged in a scheme "to deceive United States banks and financial institutions into processing billions of dollars in payments for the poker companies, by, among other things, arranging for the money received from United States gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants and other non-gambling businesses." The indictment alleges the poker-company owners "relied on highly compensated third party payment processors ... who lied to United States banks about the nature of the financial transactions they were processing and covered up those lies through the creation of phony corporations and websites to disguise payments to the poker companies."

The indictment identifies four individuals as the payment processors -- Ryan Lang, Ira Rubin, Bradley Franzen and Chad Elie.

The allegedly phony websites included on-line flower delivery shops and pet supply stores that would handle credit card payments to get funds from U.S. customers.

The 52-page indictment also alleges that conspirators used electronic checks to try and disguise their payments.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio