Internet poker companies didn’t exactly get dealt a great hand today as the top three in the United States saw their owners brought down on charges of illegal activity. For about fifteen years, internet gambling has been illegal in the United States. But this didn’t stop companies from using trickery and finding loopholes in order to evade the law to the tune of billions of dollars. According to reports, eleven people have been charged. This number includes the owners of the major internet poker companies: Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.
The charges have been delivered by the Federal Bureau of Investigations from their office in Manhattan, New York. If having an online poker company is legal, how could they be charged? Well the answer to that is pretty simple. While you can enjoy playing card games on the internet, you are not allowed to distribute or collect revenue that is tied to winning or losing the game. You are not allowed to wager with actual money. To fool the banks, where money was either deposited or disbursed, the poker companies fraudulently pretended to have legal kinds of business dealings.
The companies would use people to set up bank accounts in order to process payments to companies that didn’t even exist. Proceeds from the illegal gambling were viewed as payments to these companies. In this way, the bank would believe that the transactions were legitimate and permissible. If a bank began to suspect anything, they were coerced and bribed into processing payments with the incentive of getting financial rewards. Other banks required a hefty fee for such activity. But for the most parts, the banks remained unaware of the truth.
The companies collectively stand to be fined more than $3 billion dollars and face other penalties that could dismantle the companies and land the defendants in jail. Almost 80 bank accounts have already been seized along with the domains that host the poker sites of these companies. The outlook is dismal for all of the people that are charged and accused. Everyone knows that when the F.B.I comes knocking they already have a very strong case against you. These companies and defendants have probably been under surveillance for years. It is probable that all of the eleven defendants will do jail time along with having to pay the fines.
This entire crackdown will send shockwaves through the underground gambling industry, especially for small time companies who have been flying under the radar. There are certainly other people that are violating internet gaming laws. These new charges target the criminals at the top of the food chain. Anyone else who is doing this needs to quit while they are ahead. Today these defendants found out that the house doesn’t always win. I’m not sure about what will be done to the banks and payment processors that knew exactly what they were doing. They need to be held accountable as well. Of course there will be claims of ignorance, but there are some that knowingly accepted monetary favors.