US Government Shuts Down Three Online Poker Sites

There has been speculation in the online bingo industry that this year may be the year when the US re enters the online gaming market but recent actions by the FBI would indicate otherwise. On Friday the Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, were shut down by federal authorities charging them with ‘money laundering,’ ‘bank fraud,’ and illegal gambling. Federal prosecutors accuse the sits of ‘deceiving’ banks into processing illegal gambling transactions. Prosecutors in New York said they had issued restraining orders against more than 75 bank accounts in 14 countries and are seeking $3 billion dollars in forfeiture from the accused which clearly indicates that this action is all about the money.

The New York Field Office of the FBI announced the unsealing of indictments charging 11 defendants with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. Defendants include the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. The U.S. Attorney Preet Bharra stated “As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits.”

This entire mess stems from the passage of anti online gambling laws in 2006. The bill was passed using deceptive tactics and when polled most congressmen said they would not have voted for the law as a standalone bill. The legislation was inserted into a must pass port security bill unknown to most members of congress. The bill was presented in a late night session of congress with no time for debate. The passage of the bill sent shock waves through the internet bingo industry and internet bingo stocks plummeted on global stock exchanges. The most recent actions have sent shock waves through the online gaming industry. Many had hoped that 2011 would be the year when the US would re enter the online gaming market but for now that dream seems dead.

Once again the internet bingo industry is in shock because of the actions of the US government. Internet bingo providers that had hoped to enter the US market are disappointed and angered by the most recent actions of the FBI.  At the present time the only hope for legalized internet gambling in the US is a bill sponsored by Representative barney Frank and a prominent Republican congressman.