Poker 4/15: An FAQ

Cliff notes on the shakeup and shakedown of the poker industry

by , Apr 15, 2011 | 7:21 pm

I’ve been receiving a number of calls, emails, and tweets about this situation with the “shutdown” of the top three American poker brands. Rather than write a traditional “post”, I wanted to present a FAQ tonight for poker players.

Poker 4/15: An FAQ
by Scarlet Robinson, WASHINGTON DC

Can you please give me the cliffs of what happened today?
Indictment
Eleven defendants including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were charged by the U.S. government with “bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses.”

This is the press statement released by the Department of Justice today -> here
This is a copy of the full indictment -> here

Those indicted:
Isai Sheinberg, Paul Tate -> PokerStars -> status: not in States
Raymond Bitar, Nelson Burtnick -> Full Tilt Poker -> status: not in States
Scott Tom, Brent Beckley -> Absolute Poker -> status: not in States
Ryan Lang, Ira Rubin ->”payment processor” -> status: not in States
Bradley Franzen -> “payment processor” -> expected for arraignment
Chad Elie  ->”payment processor” -> arrested in Las Vegas
John Campos-> SunFirst Bank -> arrested in Utah

Domain Seizure
Five poker domains were seized by the government, and these are in the process being redirected to the following graphic -> here

Not everyone in all of the states are receiving this graphic yet because it can take up to 24 hrs for the DNS entries to update depending on location.

Domains seized:  pokerstars.com, fulltiltpoker.com, ub.com. ultimatebet.com, absolutepoker.com.

Civil Suit
The United States also filed a civil suit against the poker companies, their assets, and the assets of several of their payment processors.

Civil suit -> here

Restraining Orders Against Accounts
Restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors.

Ok…. what does this mean *right now* to me as a poker player?
Well, those domains for PStars, FTP, and UB are slowly being redirected state-to-state so you won’t be able to access the websites, or download software from the sites.  I’m still able to see the original sites, but in a day or so I will also see the “DOJ graphic.”  So assuming you have your poker software *installed*, you can still at this point log in to these sites.

PokerStars as a company seems to has down all of their play for money, perhaps on their own accord, but free money is accessible (if anyone cares about this today), and their are rumors that this shutdown is not going to be limited to the United States.

Reports seem to indicate to Full Tilt Poker and UB for money play is still available.

Smaller sites Bodog, etc. directly unaffected at present, I wonder if they share payment processors with the big three?

What about my money on the site?
I don’t know.  Would guess a good number of players will try to remove money off these sites in a panic such as this.  It’s unclear yet if there are any more issues than normal in getting money off these three sites.  Considering 75 bank accounts for the poker sites have been served with restraining orders, obviously their cashflow to pay with has been limited, and one might wonder how motivated they will be to pay given the current state of affairs.  A civil suit is against payment processors has also been issued which is bound to interfere with payouts.

It’s really unclear how these companies will choose to respond in the interim, and what happens if the companies go belly-up.

PokerStars is closed for money play. Will the sites shut down when I use my software for Full Tilt and UB?
I don’t know.  FTP and UB may choose to limit to free money play the way PStars has today.  Or they may ignore the whole situation until the issue is forced.  The civil suit has filed against their assets so they might seize the hardware offshore perhaps.  As to the domains, new ones might be created by these sites (i.e. fulltiltpokererz.com or something) to get their websites back up.

Chris Krafcik, @CKrafcik, editor from Gambling Compliance, tweeted that the Full Tilt Poker has decided that it “must suspend ‘real money’ play in the United States until this case is resolved.”  To time of this press – I can still play and am burning my measly bankroll on FTP.

Um…. but this is serious, right?
Yep. These international companies are being compromised from the inside out, top to bottom.  The government is effectively trying to dismantle the whole system.  The completely compromises the brand, internationally not just in the U.S., by reputation, as well as operation and money flow. Their founders have been charged along with those that are accused of aiding in payment.

Why did this happen now? Seems awfully sudden?
No, the DOJ and government have been building these cases for years.

I heard some rumblings that someone gave up the goods on these sites.. Tzvetkoff?
Read this -> Poker Indictments: Daniel Tzvetkoff May Have Given Up The Online Poker Industry To The Feds

What about PokerStars-Wynn and Full Tilt-Station alliances?
Sources from WSJ/media have said that Wynn and Station are going to find their way out of both of these compacts.

Steve Wynn (last week): “What difference does it make what PokerStars or the Justice Department says?”

I thought we were pushing for federal and state level legislation.  Things seemed to be going well in the states like Nevada, DC, Jersey, and progressing in others, and a federal bill was presented.  Is that not going to happen now?
In my opinion, this really isn’t resulting from the push for legislation nor does it mean that chances for federal or state level legislation to pass are less likely, but anything that happens within a system, politic or poker, will have effects.  I am actually more hopeful that federal legislation will come to pass in due time after today’s events.  Now we are entering into a time of quasi-blackout.


  • Jan Suchanek

    “PokerStars is closed for money play.”

    This is not true.

  • http://blindstraddle.com Fox

    The real worry I’m hearing from most players is whether they will get their money. I know this is a big problem for me, and without access to my online bankroll I am certainly in a tough spot. The Department of Justice is not likely to be concerned about my ability to support my family, and I’m feeling screwed by my own government at the moment. I broke no laws, yet I am out many thousands of dollars that they are preventing me from accessing. I’m certainly not alone in this viewpoint.

  • http://www.rungoodgaming.com Scarlet Robinson

    Jan – what do you mean? Pokerstars closed for US players…

    Fox – can I quote you? Email me at scarlet_lv@me.com

  • Jan Suchanek

    “Pokerstars closed for US players…”

    That’s not what the sentence I quoted said. I didn’t realize the article was addressing US players only (I am not American). Your sentence actually made me fire up Stars to see if they stopped all cash games.

  • http://www.rungoodgaming.com Scarlet Robinson

    Jan ~ yes.. you are right – that sentence was unclear and I did not take into account the international community.

    Will make note in article.. and thanks.