Posts Tagged ‘War-on-Poker’

PPA to Rally at Washington State Supreme Court

Lee Rousso, Phil Gordon, et Al D’Amato standing up for online poker

by , May 12, 2010 | 5:32 am

This shirt is technically inaccurate now in Washington State but still would make for a great rally souvenir.

I saw a horrifyingly disturbing video several weeks ago. In it, this dude is getting fucked by a horse … I know I know … not even gonna link to it. (Forget NSFW, this is NSFHumanity, let alone lunch; trust me, you don’t even wanna google “2 guys 1 horse” … unless you happen to enjoy YouTube reaction vids to interspecies snuff films that show a man dying after literally getting ripped a new one by a 900-pound equine lover.)

Crazy thing is, this Darwin Awards ceremony took place on a farm in Washington State, which apparently has some of the most lax laws anywhere against bestiality — in fact no laws, and thus no charges were pressed against the men who ran an underground bordello for zoophiles. (Seattle Times, fyi, safe to click)

A little stomach-wrenching legal perspective as the Supreme Court in Olympia prepares to consider the felonious nature of the very toughest state law anywhere against online poker. Later this month, the court will be taking up the 2007 case of Lee Rousso vs. State of Washington, where an online poker player challenges the constitutionality of Washington’s 2006 Internet Gambling Ban.

Click here to read Rousso’s original complaint. He filed seeking a declaratory judgment on the legality of playing poker online, as opposed to other forms of online gambling that are specifically illegal (sports betting) or legal (horse racing and lottery). His primary beef seems to be that the IGB violates the federal Commerce Clause. He also calls out the questionable political backscratching between representatives and the casino industry that he claims was really behind this law that infringes on his liberty.

Heavy stuff in the balance …

As the court prepares to hear the case — not sure who won then lost, but these matters almost always require a suck and re-suck to get this far — the PPA is gathering a force to turn whatever happens on May 27 into a media event. Rousso, who happens to be the PPA’s Washington State Director, is set to testify, and cheering him on from the steps of the Supreme Court will be Al D’Amato, John Pappas, and Phil Gordon (the only Team Full Tilter who lives in Washington State). They hope to rally enough local PPA members to turn online poker issues into a noble courthouse spectacle.

Click below to read the PPA press release:


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

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:


State of Kentucky Sues Full Tilt

+ UB throws a tourney for the Commonwealth

by , Apr 6, 2010 | 5:16 pm

So many socio-political hot-spots right now you’d think the 2010 WSOP were being played in the Paktika region of Afghanistan. Poker’s legal quandaries keep growing … as the industry’s longtime adversaries in Kentucky have filed suit against Pocket Kings, the alleged dba for Full Tilt.

Here’s the actual complaint, filed two weeks ago in Franklin Circuit Court. You’ll see they spell out a host of alleged infractions by Full Tilt according to Kentucky state law against the citizens of Kentucky. And thus, they’re seeking to have all rake and player losses refunded.


Poker Pros Win Big Humanitarian Award

Phil Gordon, Rafe Furst honored by cancer foundation

by , Mar 15, 2010 | 3:56 pm

The Prevent Cancer Foundation presented its 2nd Annual “Cancer Champion” award this weekend in Washington DC to two Full Tilt poker pros — Rafe Furst and Phil Gordon.

You be the judge … good poker face on Spencer Bachus (R-AL) as he and his wife congratulate Rafe and Phil for their good great work fighting cancer?

Perhaps one of poker’s staunchest political opponents is softening … Either that or it’s hard to oppose money for cancer, especially at an event sponsored by Pfizer.


Florida Man Jailed over Online Poker Money

Secret Service investigating how American players receive funds

by , Mar 1, 2010 | 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.

Perspectives Weekly + Instapoker

by , Feb 15, 2010 | 5:46 am

Even though I’ve gotten hooked on two-minute video interviews and have kinda taken a personal change-of-interest-pace and started paying attention to actual tournaments … big names are starting to win at the LAPC, WSOP-Circuit Tunica is kicking it old school, everyone wants to know how the Venetian Deep Stacks is gonna shape up with PokerStars heading to town, and I really gotta make it over to the M Resort to check out this whole PartyPoker Premier League thing … I still tune in almost-weekly to APCW Perspectives Weekly for a little catch-up on the international poker and online-gambling-related political scene for 10 minutes at a pop:

This week J Todd keeps us abreast of California and New Jersey’ desires to get in on the online gambling game from a state-size perspective, updates us on the online gambling fund-transfer cat-and-mouse game with MasterCard and Visa getting more serious (just three months before they are legally required to do exactly what they are trying to do), fingers the Eldorado Casino as a potentially shady site to avoid, and tease me with some affiliate business stuff that I don’t really care about but am interested to watch because of the hidden-camera + foreign-accent nature of the upcoming interview.

Here are a few other semi-related newsy links about how things are going elsewhere in the poker world:

The Mayor of Baltimore is pushing for poker+table games despite the governor of Maryland having less of an interest in making expanded gambling a priority.

Michael Barnier, the newly appointed EU Internal Markets Commissioner, promises to straighten out inconsistencies in European online gambling laws.

Police in suburban Alabama are cracking down on / raiding the real-money tournament scene there.

RE: Banks Prepping for Kibosh (2)

Old Congressional poker foes resurface

by , Nov 5, 2009 | 6:00 pm

via the PPA

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) have submitted their petition asking Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to ignore requests seeking to delay enforcement of the UIGEA.

[DC] Bachus Kyl Letter (11/03/09)

Brazil Looking to Ban Online Gambling

Think UIGEA + Kentucky + Washington State

by , Aug 24, 2009 | 2:06 pm

A Brazilian UIGEA could seriously hurt their biggest national hero’s ability to bring in real-money players.

The Brazilian senate is soon to consider a bill modeled after the UIGEA — banning payments to and from online gambling sites. The original legislation was introduced 15 months ago, but more recently has grown some teeth. At President Lula de Silva’s behest, in an effort to move the bill forward and pass it before the end of 2010, the Senate has attached companion legislation that requires Brazilian ISPs to block access to prohibited sites, and calls for prison time for violations. Also attached to the bill now is a parallel ban on child pornography.

From GamblingCompliance:


NY Courts to Unseal Payment Processor Documents

by , Aug 11, 2009 | 2:48 pm

A US District Judge has granted Costigan Media — the folks behind Gambling911 — their request to unseal seizure warrants and (heavily redacted) court documents related to the seizure of some $34 million that US attorneys allege are ill-gotten gains from illegal online gambling.

This is a semi-significant ruling because while the First Amendment has stood up for such requests in most criminal prosecutions, there is less case law directly addressing matters of civil forfeiture, according to Judge Laura Taylor Swain … but ultimately, yes, when thousands of American citizens are having funds they believe to be theirs seized by the government, yes, the public has a right to know what’s going on.

Click here for 49 pages of freshly released legal documents, not all of which look like this:

The losing side, btw, in this mini case-within-a-case are ultimately the same Manhattan federal prosecutors who followed up these payment processee seizures with an indictment against Douglas Rennick — the Canadian payment processor who faces more than 50 years in prison (cumulative), $1.75 million in fines, and the forfeiture of nearly $566 million on charges of fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling operations for his doing business with websites such as Full Tilt, PokerStars, Ultimate Bet, and others.

That indictment, of course, may or may not have come coincidentally on the same day Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a Senate bill that would effectively make all the issues being adjudicated above moot in the future.

Regardless of what’s in play there, I think it’s clear why, indeed online poker related money issues really can’t be handled in the shadows — as much as some federal prosecutors would like such transactions to stay that way.

Canadian Payment Processor Indicted, US Looking to Recover $500M+

by , Aug 6, 2009 | 10:40 am

From the Department of Justice:

Internet Gambling Payment Processor Charged With Bank Fraud, Money Laundering and Illegal Gambling Offenses

NEW YORK, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Lev L. Dassin, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Joseph M. Demarest, Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced today the filing of an indictment charging Douglas Rennick with bank fraud and other offenses stemming from his role in processing more than $350 million for Internet gambling companies. According to the indictment filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court:

Since at least 2007 through June 2009, Rennick opened a number of bank accounts in the United States under various corporate names, such as KJB Financial Corporation, Account Services Corporation and Check Payment Financial Co. In opening the accounts, he and his co-conspirators falsely represented that the accounts would be used for such purposes as issuing rebate checks, refund checks, sponsorship checks, affiliate checks and minor payroll processing. In fact, Rennick and his co-conspirators used the
accounts to receive funds from offshore Internet gambling companies that offered, variously, poker, blackjack, slots and other casino games. Rennick and his co-conspirators then disbursed those funds via checks to U.S. residents seeking to cash out their gambling winnings. Rennick and his co-conspirators provided false and misleading information to U.S. banks about the purpose of the accounts because the banks would not have processed the transactions had they known they were gambling-related. In
total, Rennick and his co-conspirators processed more than $350 million transferred from a Cyprus bank account to various U.S. bank accounts for this purpose.

Rennick is charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering and conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business. If found guilty, Rennick faces a maximum term of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on the bank fraud charge, 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the money laundering charge, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the gambling charge. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of at least approximately
$565,908,288, which represents the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the illegal gambling and bank fraud conspiracies. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein.

Rennick, 34, currently resides in Canada. Mr. Dassin praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the
Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service for their assistance in the investigation. Mr. Dassin added that the investigation is continuing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Arlo Devlin-Brown and Jonathan New are in charge of the prosecution, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Alberts is in charge of the forfeiture in this case.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Uncle Sam Grabs the Cash, and Minnesota Blinks!

Perspectives Weekly

by , Jun 13, 2009 | 12:23 am

Are you one of the 24,000 online poker players missing their cash outs? Well the US Government has your money, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank! Get the scoop on this story, plus the state of Minnesota comes to a decision in their fight to ban internet gambling within it’s borders.

EU Re-upping WTO Threats in face of US Online Poker Crackdown

More on Payment Processor Issues (in the Non-Poker World)

by , Jun 11, 2009 | 2:34 pm

This story seems to have legs. ABC News has a piece — where they lede with a guy who so far is unable to buy into the WSOP main event. I found this story at the top of the Drudge Report … which means everyone in the mainstream media (who doesn’t read Pokerati) is also well aware of the situation. (FWIW, the ABC News story ups the number of banks targeted from four to five.)

Feds Order Banks to Freeze Millions in ‘LEGAL’ Online Poker Winnings…

Even the EU is getting involved again, threatening to take the European Commission’s discrimination claims to the WTO if they can’t reach a settlement with the US to allow their companies to compete without this sort of harassment from the US Feds. In their view, the recent actions in New York’s Southern District Court are merely a continuation of the protectionist policies that began three years ago:

“Internet gambling is a complex and delicate area, and we do not want to dictate how the U.S. should regulate its market. However, the U.S. must respect its WTO obligations,” said E.U. Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton in a statement.


“The report comes to the conclusion that these proceedings are legally unjustified as well as discriminatory, because the activities of E.U. companies took place under the cover of U.S. WTO commitments,” the Commission said in a statement.

At a minimum, this guarantees that federal authorities (beyond a lone Assistant US Prosecutor) should be taking a real look at how “American-friendly” online poker sites process the dollars that transact in peer-to-peer poker games taking place on offshore sites before being shipped to American banks.

Big Money Murmurs

by , | 12:55 am

Word about the payment processor shizznit was definitely part of the buzz around the Rio today. We should know in about a week whether this is poker’s version of the swine flu, or if it spreads into something far more significant. Supposedly Full Tilt checks are back to clearing. However, at least one major PokerStars affiliate had his check bounce — and that’s money he lives on.

Seen in the Amazon cash game area (reading a story in the New York Post):

UPDATE: Oops, maybe swine flu wasn’t the best comparison.

RE: Fed Crackdown on Online Poker Money Transfers (4)

by , Jun 9, 2009 | 5:03 pm

The Associated Press is at least paying attention to the developments reported here on Pokerati in what is sure to be a complex legal situation — one that already is bringing up not just legally questionable issues of non-brick-and-mortar gambling, but also money laundering. They also clear up some of the details about who got tagged and how:

Documents obtained by the AP show that a judge in the district issued a seizure warrant last week for an account at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco, and that a federal prosecutor told a bank in Arizona to freeze an account.

In a letter dated Friday and faxed to Alliance Bank of Arizona, the prosecutor said that accounts held by payment processor Allied Systems Inc. are subject to seizure and forfeiture “because they constitute property involved in money laundering transactions and illegal gambling offenses.” The letter was signed by Arlo Devlin-Brown, the assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

In another letter faxed the same day, Devlin-Brown asks that the bank treat the funds “as legally seized” by the FBI, saying that the government has probable cause that the gambling payments of U.S. residents had been directed to offshore illegal Internet gambling businesses.

Meanwhile, the British press is reporting:

America might be about to loosen its gambling corsets

These two stories aren’t as mutually exclusive as they might seem. Often, when times are changing, old holdovers from a previous philosophical era will turn uber-aggressive with their means and methods trying to give their way one last shot, and at a minimum hoping to take a few folks down with them as their kind are pushed out.

That’s certainly plausible considering how emphatic bureaucrats in the DOJ have been about the illegality of online poker/gambling even when the people and courts have repeatedly disagreed.