Sunday, Apr 17, 2011 Fallout Continues from Online Poker's Black Friday
Friday's indictments against the owners of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker continue to ripple across the online poker world.
To recap: Friday morning the US Department of Justice unsealed indictments against the owners of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker as well as former payment processors for the companies.
All domains associated with those companies were also seized by the US government.
After the indictments, the US government also filed an 80-page civil suit against the defendants seeking $3 billion in penalties as well as all bank accounts used in processing of US player funds and any companies associated with the sites.
Poker's "Black Friday," as it has been called by most of the media, has had repercussions felt all over the poker world.
First, both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have banned all U.S.-based players from real-money tables. U.S. players also may not withdraw funds or conduct player-to-player transfers.
The indictments have also killed the March deal made between the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas and PokerStars.
The Wynn immediately announced the termination of the agreement on Friday, saying in a release that "The decision was reached as a result of the indictment unsealed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York."
Furthermore, it appears that the deal between Full Tilt Poker and Station Casinos is now dead as well, as is FTP's recently announced Onyx Cup Poker series.
Three of the defendants listed in the indictment - John Campos, Chad Elie, and Bradley Franzen - have already been picked up by authorities. Elie was released on his own recognizance, but all three will be arraigned in New York this week.
Full Tilt owner Raymond Bitar is the only other defendant that has been heard from since the indictment. He released a statement through Full Tilt Poker stating that "I am surprised and disappointed by the government's decision to bring these charges."
In addition he stated "I look forward to my exoneration."
ESPN has removed all PokerStars-related advertising from its website and the Pokerstars-sponsored "Inside Deal" with Bernard Lee has been removed as well. ESPN also announced on Sunday that future NAPT broadcasts may be pulled from the station.
The effects of PokerStars and Full Tilt pulling out of the US market have been felt by players all over the world. Due to the loss of US players, guarantees on almost all major tournaments on both sites have been adjusted.
FTOPS Event #1 was scheduled to be a $3 million guarantee, but was dropped it to a $1 million guarantee. The PokerStars Sunday Million was dropped from a $1.5 million guarantee to a $1 million guarantee, and it did not meet that guarantee until the late registration period.
As a review, the US Department of Justice has brought up five separate charges against the defendants that consist of Conspiracy to Violate the UIGEA, Violation of the UIGEA, Operation of an Illegal Gambling Business, Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering.
All five websites named in the indictment currently display a DOJ seizure notification, although both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have relaunched on alternate domains (PokerStars.eu and FullTiltPoker.co.uk).
For poker players outside of the U.S., and who play on sites other than PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, repercussions have also been felt - but not entirely negatively.
888 Poker has doubled the prize pool for all of its major guaranteed tournaments.
Titan, Party Poker and Chili Poker are also offering to match VIP points and levels for players who make the move over from PokerStars and Full Tilt.
Poker Junkie will continue to bring you details of this story as they develop.