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U.S. Department of Justice Indicts Online Poker Room Operators

Law, 2011-04-15, by Ozone

The United States Department of Justice today unsealed an indictment against the founders of the three largest online poker rooms that service players in the U.S. Eleven names were listed on the press release. Combined, they are the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker. The men are facing charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling related offenses.

The DOJ has also seized five domains under which the companies hosted their illegal poker games. In addition, restraining orders have been issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the poker companies.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, "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."

The press release also accuses PokerStars and Full Tilt of persuading small banks facing financial difficulties to engage in illegal transactions in exchange for multi-million dollar investments. They are also being accused of lying to banks about the nature of their transactions and creating phony corporations and websites. In a PokerStars document from 2009 obtained by the DOJ, they acknowledge that they receive money from U.S. gamblers through company names that "strongly imply the transaction has nothing to do with PokerStars."

According to the press release, The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York is working with foreign law enforcement agencies and Interpol to secure the arrest of these defendants and the seizure of criminal proceeds located abroad.

The indictment is seeking at least $3 billion in civil money laundering penalties from the poker companies.

Stay tuned to PokerTips for more updates on this major poker news story as they happen.

Related Links

DOJ Press Release

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