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PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to Refund U.S. Players


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When the U.S. Department of Justice seized and shutdown three of the world’s
most popular online poker rooms last week and reportedly froze all player
accounts as part of a federal crackdown on online gambling, it was unknown
whether U.S. players would be able to access and withdraw their funds or forfeit
them.

However, on Wednesday this week, Preet Bharara, a U.S. attorney for the Southern
District of New York, announced that an agreement had been reached with two of
the poker rooms – PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker – which will see
money refunded to their respective players in the U.S. But no such agreement was
announced with the third online poker room, Absolute Poker.

Said Bharara in a press release, ‘No individual player accounts were ever frozen
or restrained, and each implicated online poker company has at all times been
free to reimburse any player’s deposited funds. 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.’

The seizing of the domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker is
linked to a federal indictment which is seeking $3 billion in civil money
laundering penalties and forfeitures, and saw the issuing of restraining orders
against 75 bank accounts allegedly used by the online poker rooms and their
payment processors in 14 countries.

Eleven individuals connected to the online poker rooms were named in the
indictment, each of whom have been charged with conspiracy to violate and
violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), a law that
prohibits financial institutions from knowingly accepting U.S. payments in
relation to illegal online gambling.

Ten of the individuals were charged with money laundering conspiracy, while nine
were charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. If found
guilty, each of the individuals face a maximum of five years in prison and three
years of supervised release, as well as severe financial penalties for each
count.

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