US Government Drops the Bomb on Online Poker
I am not a conspiracy theorist. However, I am a realist.
For years now, online poker sites have been finding a way to circumvent the UIGEA and still provide payments to online poker players.Â Anyone with any common sense knew that the sites were playing with fire.
A few months ago, I made a request with Full Tilt Poker to have a wire sent to me. After almost two weeks, I was contacted by Full Tilt Support telling me that there were some delays etc and that they had to go a different route in processing my wire.
"For my trouble," I was given a $50 credit.
I came to find out that the reason I was given this credit was because $50 was about to be taken out because the money was going to be sent through three different banks. Finally, the wire gets to me and is listed as "Investment dividends."
The first thought in my head was "Oh fuck. They did not just really do that." I held off on cleaning my account out at that point, but ended up doing so back in February with the exception of maybe $40.
Why? Because I knew that today was coming, and it was coming sooner than later.
Today, Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker/UB were indicted by the U.S. government on five separate counts. These counts are as follows:
1.Â Conspiracy to Violate Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)
2.Â Violation of UIGEA
3.Â Operation of Illegal Gambling Business
4.Â Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud
5.Â Money Laundering Conspiracy
The defendants are looking at 5 years each for the first three charges and $250,000 fines or twice the gross gain or loss for those same charges.
Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud carries 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines or twice the gross gain or loss.
Money Laundering carries 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss.
Amazingly to me, there are many people that actually seem shocked this day came. Did they think the government was going to sit back and never do anything regarding the UIGEA?
I could not see the government not doing this before online poker legalization became a reality. When D.C. became the first place in the US to legalize online poker, I privately wondered when they would act, and they finally did.
Full Tilt, PokerStars, etc all violated laws that were on the books. The government had to act now before other states started to murk the water regarding online poker being legal.
Is this a blow to online poker? Absolutely. Will this delay online poker becoming legal? I think so.
I would not be surprised if this move was not made to influence states that are currently debating the issue and serve as a warning to others. This sends a message that "online poker sites conduct illegal activity" and that is the message that many lawmakers will run with.
Will poker become legal online? Not anytime soon, and definitely not before the government gets their pound of flesh. A reckoning was coming, and this is it.
Sorry online poker world.