Posts Tagged ‘payment processors’

New Full Tilt to US Players: Talk to the DOJ

by , Oct 11, 2012 | 1:38 pm

Emails apparently have gone out to Full Tilt’s American player base — their first direct contact with customers for I don’t know how long. And even though that’s a clear sign things are moving forward toward resolution, redemption may still be a way’s away … or at least will probably require a lot more paperwork.

(Now stop bothering us already!)

Dear [player id],

As a player on Full Tilt Poker, you may be aware of the recent settlement reached with the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”).

Full Tilt Poker will not offer real money online poker in the U.S. until it is permissible to do so under relevant law.

In relation to your account balance, you will have the opportunity to file petition with the DOJ through a remission process which will be administrated by the DOJ.

In light of the above, only play chip games will be available to Full Tilt Poker players in the U.S. following re-launch, in the first week of November, 2012. Your Full Tilt Points balance will remain intact in your account.

Please note that we are unable to answer queries in relation to your funds – all such questions should be directed to the DOJ in accordance with the procedure to be defined by them.

Please retain this email for your records.


Full Tilt Poker

Ray Bitar Challenges the DOJ without a Lawyer?

by , Oct 3, 2011 | 10:10 am

nevada license plate notaryI gotta think representing himself pro se against the DOJ was not part of the original plan. But that’s the real story (imho) yet to be noted in Ray Bitar’s claims that he wants some of his property back (including two bank accounts in Pokerati’s old Dallas stomping grounds).

Have a look at the document. He filed the motion himself — “Verified Claim of Raymond Bitar, Pursuant to Rule G of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty and Maritime Claims” — with an Irish notary public to make it official.

I certainly don’t know the nuances of Rule G of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty and Maritime Claims, but it seems complex enough that an attorney might-should usually be filing this kinda thing. And the lack of legal counsel’s involvement in this civil matter raises plenty of questions about the financial status of Bitar … and maybe even the motivations of various comments by Full Tilt attorneys who may or may not be still be getting paid.


GamingCounsel’s Weekly Briefs

Midterm elections, Tzvetkoff’s Vegas loans, Polish gambling, Zynga mobile

by , Nov 10, 2010 | 6:43 pm

I know that these past few days everyone’s been talking about Jonathan Duhamel’s triumph in the November Nine. Sadly, I wasn’t in Las Vegas for it and it has been covered much better than I ever could elsewhere. In lieu of that, here are my thoughts on some of the interesting legal developments in gaming over the past week:

  1. American Midterms (Part I) – Top story last week & top 2 stories this week. As expected, the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, Representative Boehner will be the next Speaker, and Senator Reid kept his seat and his job as Senate Majority Leader. (Aside: great article here on how Reid pulled it off.) What does it all mean? It’s too soon to say. I continue to think that the general trend towards legalization in the US will continue and that, if nothing passes during the lame duck session of Congress, there may be more going on in intra-state gaming in the coming year than in Congress. However, it may be that a new bill (sponsored by Senator Reid) could be passed during the lame duck and legalize poker. Keep watching. [Examiner; Poker News Daily]
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  3. American Midterms (Part II) – During the midterms, there were many races and referenda addressing local gaming issues. There’s a great summary of many of them by Sarah Klaphake Cords at Casino Enterprise Management here.
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  5. Tzvetkoff Squirrel Funds – This is a story that’s been followed by those in online poker for months. Daniel Tzvetkoff created a payment processor in Australia called Intabill. He is alleged to have defrauded several Internet poker operators and was arrested in Las Vegas earlier this year on money laundering charges, among others. Most seem to think that he’s co-operating with federal authorities. Now come allegations that funds from the payment processing business were squirreled away in a payday lending company in Las Vegas called Hugo Services. Apparently some $50 million are at stake. If true and if the federal government hasn’t already seized it, Daniel’s and Intabill’s creditors can be expected to make a move against it to try to recoup some of their losses. [Courier and Mail]
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  7. Increase in Polish Internet Gambling – In case any more evidence were needed that banning Internet gambling doesn’t reduce its incidence, apparently Poles will have gambled away 20% more by the end of this year than they did in the year in which Internet gambling and advertising was outlawed in Poland. [Warsaw Business Journal]
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  9. Zynga on the Go – These guys have been in the press a lot lately, and especially in the past week. First came news that Zynga Game Network’s estimated worth exceeded video gaming giant Electronic Arts’s market value. (Apparently, Zynga is worth $5.5 billion.) Now Zynga is being touted as a player in mobile gaming. It already has a Texas Hold’em game available on Facebook that supports 6 million users daily. More proof that the next wave of gaming is already underway and will involve social media and mobile gaming. Watch these guys and other players in this developing market. []

Attorney Stuart Hoegner regularly follows matters of international gaming law; you can follow him @GamingCounsel on Twitter.

Google Prepping for Legalized Internet Gambling

by , Aug 5, 2010 | 5:20 pm

google_chocolate_poker_chipsInternet super-behemoth Google seems to be wasting little time positioning themselves to profit from licensed internet gambling in the United States by investing in “social gaming”.  Both the New York Times and Techcrunch are reporting that Google has agreed to purchase “Slide”, a software development company specializing in Facebook apps involving the exchange of virtual money.

Sale price estimates range from $182 million to $228 million (in real money). Supposedly, Google will officially announce the acquisition tomorrow.

This follows last week’s quiet confirmation from Google CEO Eric Schmidt about their partnership with Zynga — clarifying speculative reports in July that Google had “secretly” invested $150 million or so in the enormous play-money poker site.

With a current user base of 28 million budding poker degens at the ready, Zynga is primed for real-money poker with their popular Facebook app Texas HoldEm Poker. You can read more about Zynga’s interest in HR 2267 from Business Insider: JACKPOT FOR ZYNGA: Congress Wants To Legalize Online Gambling.

Conveniently, Zynga uses PayPal for a method of payment (and happens to be PayPal’s biggest client).  This method of payment — turned off years ago for anything related to gambling — could be ideal for a would-be internet gambling licensee under HR 2267 with Barney Frank’s Manager’s Amendment, which prohibits credit card transactions for gambling should his bill become law.

Another UIGEA Arrest, This One on Barney Frank’s Home Turf

by , May 16, 2010 | 9:10 am

Sorry for missing this, but I guess I hit the Google snooze alarm. Ten days ago, federal authorities arrested Todd Lyons, 36, of Beverly, Massachusetts, for allegedly running an offshore sports betting operation called Sports Offshore. They pretty much threw the book at him, levying 36 criminal charges — fraud, money laundering, racketeering, tax crimes, you name it … and one of them for violating the UiGEA.

Nothing to do with poker specifically at first glance … but if you believe the Feds don’t operate in a vacuum, there seems to be a message here that might-should have a few Poker After Dark regulars shitting bricks taking note …

I learned about the arrest from J. Todd, whom I find myself paying closer attention to than before as the June 1 D-Day approaches. However, point of order, dude, I think you got it wrong saying Lyons was the first ever UIGEA arrest. I’m 99.99 percent sure he was the second. You gotta read your Pokerati, man, where you’ll see that the first was Daniel Tzvetkoff. It’s right there, charge #4, in the criminal complaint from the DOJ! Reason magazine saw the same thing, too.

With that out of the way (we understand typos here), let’s look a little closer at this case and how it may or may not be different from payment processor arrests related to online poker …

First off, this indictment does not come out of the Southern District of New York, which we know is where the biggest poker heat has been coming from. However, is it just a coincidence that the first UIGEA arrest happened in Las Vegas (capital of the poker world) and the second was in Massachusetts (home to the biggest Congressional opponent of the UIGEA). The message someone could read here is “Barney Frank can’t save you!”


Feds Officially Shake $17 Million from Rennick

Forfeiture order for guilty payment processor’s ill-gotten gains

by , May 15, 2010 | 6:21 am

Online gambling+poker payment processor Douglas Rennick had to sign over his property on Tuesday, in accordance with his recent guilty plea in US Federal Court. That, of course, has the Southern District of New York now batting 1.000 when it comes to getting convictions or guilty pleas in online gambling cases.

The amount Rennick admitted was involved in the illegal “gambling conspiracy” he was part of totaled $583 million. But as part of his plea agreement — reducing his threatened sentence from 30 years to 6-to-12 months — the amount he actually signed over (thereby contributing to national debt reduction, obv) was about $17 million. I think that was just about everything he had on him. The Feds are still seeking that extra half-billion, and expect Rennick to help them find it before he gets officially sentenced in September.

Check it out … here’s the actual forfeiture order
The crime the Canadian payment processor pled to (one count) was a Wire Act violation. Generally we poker people have thought of the Wire Act as being more about sports betting. But in Rennick’s case, court documents made it clear — specifically in an sworn affidavit from an FBI agent — that this money came from Full Tilt and/or PokerStars.

By law, the Feds have 30 days to post the details of his seized accounts at Then, you’ll have 60 days to file a claim if you think any of that money might belong to you. Any takers?

Big ups to @GamingCounsel for helping me understand the difference between “forfeiture allegation” and “subject property” in 140 characters or less. [thx!]

Forbes Calling Out Online Poker Woes

by , May 13, 2010 | 9:45 am

Check it out … from Forbes magazine:

Online Poker War Heats Up
The Department of Justice bags a Canadian payment processor in its fight against online poker. Are the big online firms next?

Interesting … these biz-media guys may not really get poker, but they do listen to The Poker Beat presumably understand a thing or two about multi-national finance and how putting rich white guys behind bars can be good for traffic circulation.

Generally, the poker world has always celebrated when the big online companies always got some mainstream media attention. But who knew there could even be a story without a press release from Full Tilt or PokerStars?

Canadian Payment Processor Douglas Rennick Pleads Guilty

Cops plea for processing cashouts, forfeits $17.1 million

by , May 11, 2010 | 5:23 pm

In a story that was originally reported in August, Canadian payment processor Douglas Rennick pleaded guilty in New York City to a charge of processing offshore bets to US residents and forced to forfeit $17,100,000.

Sentencing for Rennick is scheduled for sentencing on September 15th, with a prison term of six to twelve months expected.

Not So Fast on Tzvetkoff Bail, NY Court Is Saying

Payment processor still in Vegas jail

by , Apr 28, 2010 | 5:13 pm

Despite reports to the suggestive contrary, indicted online poker payment processor Daniel Tzvetkoff has not been released on bail. The 27-year-old Australian, who briefly lived the “baller” life of a gray-market money-transfering kingpin, is still in custody in the North Las Vegas Detention Center, awaiting a decision from a federal judge in New York on his temporary fate, according to a Deputy US Marshal in Las Vegas.

As the first ever accused UIGEA criminal, Tzvetkoff faces up to 75 years in prison on multiple fraud and money laundering charges related to his dealings with American online poker players, American banks, and American-friendly online poker sites, including Full Tilt, PokerStars, Absolute, and Ultimate Bet.

Though I don’t fully understand all the jurisdictional details, supposedly the district court in New York trumps any ruling from the federal magistrate in North Las Vegas, who granted bail on the surety of his father’s $1.2 million house in Brisbane and the condition that the elder Tzvetkoff would drive his son to New York where he will be tried.


The Poker Beat (Criminal Minded)

by , Apr 27, 2010 | 11:36 am

If you missed it last week, one of our more astute hirsute co-panelists on The Poker Beat was break-dancing the fine line between news and conspiracy theory in analyzing the changing legal landscape of poker and what it means to the business we all dabble in.

The arrest of Daniel Tzvetkoff had something to do with that.

Also BJ and Gary look at actual numbers in comparing/contrasting the WPT to the EPT. All while assessing whether or not PokerStars is taking over the world. Plus Liv Boeree kicking arse as Huff celebrates the glorious life of Gang Starr.


The Poker Beat

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UPDATE: New audio file click here

RE: First Criminal Indictment for UIGEA Violations

by , Apr 22, 2010 | 3:05 am

Apparently, some in the non-poker media recognize the historic nature of the first-ever UIGEA charges — and they’re not happy about it. Check out Reason Magazine’s jumping to the defense of Daniel Tzvetkoff, or at least being extremely of Department of Justice pursuits:

Getting Away With Poker
How is helping people play a card game like murder?

I find this article particularly interesting because of how it pairs politically with the recent story in The Hill about legalized online gambling creating jobs, according to a new study. Though jobs are appealing on both sides of the aisle, it’s clearly an issue the Dems are looking to own in coming months.

Meanwhile, Reason, a Libertarian magazine, speaks more to the Tea Party set. So regardless of what happens to Tzvetkoff, you gotta like the plausibly bipartisan sales pitch taking shape in the Beltway for whatever online poker bills may or may not come to fruition later this year.


Tzvetkoff Granted Bail

Accused UIGEA violator could live under house arrest

by , | 1:57 am

A Las Vegas federal judge granted Australian Daniel Tzvetkoff bail as he awaits trial on four charges related to more than half a billion dollars worth of bank fraud, money laundering, and UIGEA violations. The 28-year-old payment processor faces up to 75 years in prison for his actions — essentially transferring funds between US online poker players and sites the Department of Justice considers to be “illegal internet gambling companies”.

Prosecutors protested his release, claiming he was a flight risk as a foreign national who is believed to have a $100 million hidden stash at his disposal.


Rogue Payment Processor Arrested in Las Vegas
Accused of Laundering Full Tilt, PokerStars, UB Money

First criminal indictment for UIGEA violations

by , Apr 17, 2010 | 4:48 am

Daniel Tzvetkoff, first accused UIGEA criminal: Whoever said being a douchebag was a crime?

Dude … it’s gettin’ hot here in the US … specifically in Las Vegas.

Yesterday federal authorities arrested Daniel Tzvetkoff, a 27-year-old Australian national “on charges that he assisted illegal internet gambling companies by processing approximately $500 million in transactions between U.S. gamblers and internet gambling websites and disguising the transactions to the banks so that they would appear unrelated to gambling,” according to a statement from the DOJ’s Southern District of New York.

Illegal internet gambling companies? Yikes …

Tzvetkoff, as founder of Intabill and ACH System, faces up to 75 years in prison for bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to operate and finance an illegal gambling business, and … get this … for processing fund transfers in violation of the UIGEA.

I’m pretty sure that’s the first ever indictment to bring up UIGEA charges.

About a year ago the Australia Courier-Mail reported that Tzvetkoff owed Full Tilt, PokerStars, Ultimate Bet, and Absolute Poker more than $30 million as the overextended, ostentatious Gen-Y tycoon’s personal empire was crumbling. Then, Full Tilt (through Kolyma Corporation) sued Tzvetkoff in Australian Court, saying his company Intabill owed them $52 million.

Before his arrest, he was saying Full Tilt tricked him into a bad deal and his lawyer doublecrossed him. He blamed the economy for a multi-multi-millionaire having to declare bankruptcy earlier this year. More on the pre-arrest rise and fall of an online poker payment processor here.

I mean for chrissakes, he drove a Lamborghini with the license plate “BALLER”! And when a bank repossessed a competitive race car of his, they got everything except its $100k engine, which had been stripped out and hidden.

Click below for the official word from the DOJ:


RE: Florida Man Jailed over Online Poker Money

German had people accusing him of major fraud

by , Mar 1, 2010 | 8:50 am

A little Google-translate suggests there’s a lot more to this case than just a guy in Florida getting carried away with online poker money transfers. Apparently the detainee, Michael Schuett, is an accused fraudster in Germany who has been on some sort of run hiding out in the USA. A German website exists for the sole purpose of outing this man’s alleged crimes — USAG24-Betrug, or, in English, USAG24 Scams: As Michael Schuett Still Cheating.

The basics:

You might wonder why there is this page. Well, I also have the services of Michael Schuett, alias adopted USAG24 Inc. and has been cheated a lot of money. Meanwhile, there are quite a lot of people who feel the same way.

The people who have resisted and have published their case as the Internet, were then put massive pressure from Michael Schuett and most have agreed to the cancellation of their websites. This of course happened after agreeing a settlement, for example, was paid some money from Michael Schuett so that the matter is created from the world. Most of these people have only received a fraction of the lost money again and had to return the sites to take from the net.

Thus Michael Schuett is still continuing its Betrügerein. I will not comment on such a comparison and the money had already been written off as dearly as I will have to deal with this person any more. However, I would keep everyone else from dealing with that person and any company business.

Your USAG24-dupe

Now for all we know this is just one disgruntled ex-colleague. But he’s had a twitter feed set up for the past three months just to track the whereabouts of this one person. @usag24betrug has three followers.

And here’s a half-hour lifestyle documentary on Michael Schuett, apparently chronicling his move to Florida:

Very strange. Might online poker sites be a victim of a fraud here? Or just tangled up with the wrong guy? I’m still not sure what to make of it all, but I do get the sense now that this situation may turn out to be about more than online poker …

Florida Man Jailed over Online Poker Money

Secret Service investigating how American players receive funds

by , | 12:29 am

Still making sense of it all, and how this is different from other poker-related money seizures and charges against Canadian Douglas Rennick … but it looks to be something big, and a new level of poker prosecutions.

Here’s the story from the Naples News:

Feds investigate Naples man in money laundering probe tied to online gambling

It may or may not be coincidental that the the Feds have arrested Michael Olaf Schuett’s for money transfers directly related (allegedly) to online poker just as the state is taking a closer-than-ever look at the game with eyes on its revenue potential. It’s also not clear if Schuett’s been charged with anything yet, or is just being held because he is a foreign national flight risk with felony charges pending.

Here are some plausibly relevant names, and highlights that jump out at yours truly:

  • Michael Olaf Schuett, or Schütt, is the guy they’re after. He’s a 29-year-old German whose visa expire in April. A federal judge has ordered him held in Lee County jail without bond.
  • He lives in a pretty sick oceanfront condo.
  • He’s been married only a month to a 28-year-old woman he’s known for only nine months. Her name is Jennifer Sherman.
  • Feds allege that since opening accounts in 2007, Schuett has transferred about $70 million to 23,000 people, mostly Americans and supposedly online poker winnings.
  • The giveaway was dozens of checks being received daily via Fed Ex.
  • People cashing checks sent to them from Schuett claim they are online poker winnings.
  • Secret Service is the law enforcement agency involved.
  • Agents are seeking to execute search warrants and seize allegedly ill-gotten property, such as fancy cars and watches.
  • The complaint lays out a web of money transfers between businesses and banks and players.
  • Lots of American and Canadian banks in play. Key company serving as go-between: Bluetool Ltd. out of Germany.
  • Supposedly no direct allegations in the complaint against any online poker sites, but the Naples News reporter was able to connect them to transactions from Full Tilt, PokerStars, and Absolute.
  • Three specific players — Corey Drury, Darren Elias, and Derek Dubois — get named as receiving money through Schuett’s legally questionable operation. All three have public profiles on BluffMagazine, PocketFives, CardPlayer, and PokerPages.
  • As banks became hip to the set-up, Schuett tried to create a new accounts to hold the money, claiming to be a real estate investor — a story the banks didn’t buy.