PokerStars, the largest Internet poker site on the planet, has agreed to acquire former competitor Full Tilt Poker and fork over $184 million in owed money to overseas poker players in order to settle civil charges brought on by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which accused the site of sidestepping U.S. regulations related to online gambling and money laundering. As part of the settlement, PokerStars will also forfeit $547 million to the U.S. government.
U.S. authorities continue their crusade against the evil and despicable world of...ONLINE POKER! Children are safer today, there are no more marital problems, and world peace is at hand, all because the U.S. Department of Justice pulled the plug on Full Tilt Poker, one of the most popular online poker sites and sponsor to several real life professional poker players, including Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Phil Gordon, and several others.
On April 15, thousands of professional Internet gamers were put out of work by the U.S. Justice Department.
You didn’t realize there were so many people who derived some or all of their income from online gaming? Well, if poker isn’t a game, then I’m not sure what it is. And thousands of people—many of them college students and the unemployed—played poker online to support themselves, right up until the Justice Department decided to pull the plug.
According to a report in the U.K.'s Guardian, a 29-year-old British man will spend two years behind bars for hacking Zynga and stealing 400 billion virtual gaming chips. Ashley Mitchell made off with more than $11 million in chips by muscling his way into Zynga's mainframe and stealing the identity of two employees before transferring the chips to his own account. It almost worked.
In the movie White Men Can't Jump, Rosie Perez, playing the part of Woody Harrelson's philosophical girlfriend, said, "Sometimes when you win, you really lose." She wasn't talking about online gambling, but she may have well have been, as that's the situation thousands of Internet gamblers find themselves in.
More specifically, federal prosecutors have convinced four American banks to freeze payments of at least $33 million owed to 27,000 players at four offshore poker sites, the New York Times reports. Two of those sites -- PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com -- sponsor some of the world's top tournament poker players and frequently air ads on television in the U.S.
John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, said prosecutors have asked Citibank, Wells Fargo, and two smaller banks to freeze funds that belong to Allied Systems and Account Services, two companies that process payouts for the aforementioned poker sites.
"It's very aggressive, and I think it's a gamble on the part of the prosecutors," said I. Nelson Rose, a professor of law at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California.