The world of online poker was turned upside down last Friday afternoon as the F.B.I and the Department of Justice served indictments against Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker, on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. There were also restraining orders issued against over 75 bank accounts used by the online poker companies and their payment processors, as well as five Internet domain names.
The charges are based on the Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1955 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. These are the same charges previously brought against payment processors used by the sites that have been shut down to American players only.
The allegations centre around poker companies allegedly using fraudulent methods to circumvent federal law and trick
Senator Harry Reid was given the job to investigate and produce a Federal Licensing Bill to legislate for the growth in online gaming. The UIGEA of 2006 was now in place to stop banks being able to process payments made to internet gaming sites, effectively stopping American players being able to deposit funds in order to play online.
But the multi billion dollar industry was too much to give up for a period of time whilst awaiting a government bill, so the law was flouted using sophisticated means of moving money around between offshore companies, banks and payment processors.
Non American players can still play on the gaming sites legally and shares in European gaming operators have jumped by 20% in just the last few days.