If you are an online poker player, you surely would have come across these companies, pokerstars.com, fulltilt.com and absolutepoker.com. They are three of the biggest online poker sites in the world. If you visit any of these sites today, you might be wondering, what is happening to them?
A visit to pokerstars.com, fulltiltpoker.com and absolutepoker.com reveals a message from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. The message says the domain has been seized for various offenses by the site.
Federal prosecutors have issued indictments against the owners of the three online poker sites. Isai SCheinberg, founder of Pokerstars, and Raymond Bitar, founder of fulltiltpoker, and nine other people are being charged with the operation of illegal gambling businesses.
The goverment is also seeking to reclaim $3 billion that it says the gambling companies amassed illegally by finding loopholes in a 2006 law passed by U.S. lawmakers making online gambling illegal in the United States.
According to prosecutors, Fulltilpoker, Pokerstars and Absolutepoker disguised poker payments it received from U.S. players as money for the purchase of flowers, golf balls and jewelry among other disguises. A judge has also ordered a restraining against 76 bank accounts used by the companies in 14 different countries.
Federal agents have arrested a number of people in connection with financial transactions involiving the poker companies. This indictment will roll into a legal battle between the U.S. prosecutors and pokerstars, fulltilt poker and absolute poker, who are all not incorporated in the United States. The companies have argued in the past that poker is a game of skill and therefore can not be classified as gambling.
According to prosecutors, the three companies bribed payment processors who lied to U.S. banks about the nature of the transactions. The payment proecessors reported funds received from U.S. players to these companies as payments for the purchase of golf balls, flowers and jewelry.
What is going to happen to players with money deposited with fulltilt, pokerstars and absolutepoker? We don’t know exactly but our guess is they will get their money back. Also are these poker sites going to operate again? We can’t answer that as well because the legal process involved will be complicated. But for now, fulltilt poker, pokerstars.com and absolute poker has been shut down by the FBI.