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Online poker sites settle U.S. lawsuit for $731 million

Online GamblingOnline Gambling: Online poker sites settle U.S. lawsuit for $731 million
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The Department of Justice announced a $731 million settlement Tuesday with online poker companies PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to resolve bank fraud and money laundering allegations.

Full Tilt also resolved allegations that it operated a Ponzi scheme, failing to maintain sufficient funds on deposit for players to withdraw. Prosecutors said last year that Full Tilt had used more than $400 million worth of player funds to pay board members and other owners since 2007.

As part of Tuesday's settlement, Full Tilt will forfeit to the government virtually all of its assets, which will then be acquired by PokerStars.

PokerStars will repay the approximately $184 million owed by Full Tilt to foreign players. Full Tilt's U.S. victims can seek compensation from the $547 million forfeited by PokerStars to the government.

In April of last year, the government accused Full Tilt, PokerStars and Absolute Poker of circumventing federal laws against Internet gambling by deceiving banks and credit card issuers into processing payments for U.S. players. The companies allegedly arranged for money from U.S. gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants for items like jewelry and golf balls.

A settlement is pending with Absolute Poker that would require the company to forfeit all of its assets. A lawyer for Absolute Poker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

None of the companies admitted wrongdoing as part of their agreements.

PokerStars chairman Mark Scheinberg said in a statement that the company was "delighted we have been able to put this matter behind us," and looked forward to operating in the United States when it is legal to do so. In the meantime, PokerStars remains open to non-U.S. players.

Ex-Full Tilt CEO Raymond Bitar, who was arrested earlier this month in connection with the case, said in a statement that he was "extremely pleased and excited" at the prospect of Full Tilt customers being repaid.

Eleven people in total have been charged criminally in connection with the case. Seven have been arrested, all of whom have pleaded guilty save Bitar, while four remain at large.

In addition, poker celebrities Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, former Full Tilt board members, face civil charges.

CNN

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5 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by Stack47.
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United States
Member #111446
May 25, 2011
6323 Posts
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Posted: August 1, 2012, 7:02 am - IP Logged

Another addition to Bernie's Exclusive Club!!!

 

    LottoGuyBC's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
    British Columbia
    Canada
    Member #116105
    September 4, 2011
    3507 Posts
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    Posted: August 1, 2012, 8:21 am - IP Logged

    Cash Me Out Dealer Group Hug

    "You have to be in it to win it!"

      time*treat's avatar - radar

      United States
      Member #13130
      March 30, 2005
      2171 Posts
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      Posted: August 1, 2012, 1:44 pm - IP Logged

      If they'd also been hosting re(s)election fundraisers for certain insiders, they wouldn't have run into this problem.

      In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
      Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

        four4me's avatar - gate1
        MD
        United States
        Member #1701
        June 18, 2003
        7843 Posts
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        Posted: August 1, 2012, 8:31 pm - IP Logged
        As i recall when this story first broke most people protested that the government should stay out of the off shore gambling business.
        Now you see why they stepped in. This isn't the only outfit running games mixed with deception and ripping off players.

        Big John says. You don't hit the number. The number hits you!!!!

                       I'm not Big John, I'm Four4me, Big John's a friend.
          Avatar
          Kentucky
          United States
          Member #32652
          February 14, 2006
          5380 Posts
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          Posted: August 3, 2012, 7:09 pm - IP Logged
          As i recall when this story first broke most people protested that the government should stay out of the off shore gambling business.
          Now you see why they stepped in. This isn't the only outfit running games mixed with deception and ripping off players.

          The government never was in off shore gambling, but was very interested in how the U.S. players were depositing and withdrawing money from off shore gambling accounts. When it became known the businesses were laundering the money making it appear like the players were buying products, the Justice Department closed the sites' domains.

          Poker Stars had enough money to settle all their U.S. accounts, but Absolute Poker and Full Tilt had borrowed a large percentage to pay huge dividends to their investors. Basically both businesses had enough money to cover the usual withdrawals but the shut down forced them to pay off all the U.S. accounts at one time and they didn't have enough money.

          From the player's point a view, they didn't care how their money was being deposited and withdrawn, legally or illegally, never intended to close their accounts, and protested only because they could no longer play online poker for real money. The shut down closed their accounts and became a problem for the players after they found out they couldn't collect their money. I don't feel sorry for the U.S. players having six figure or higher accounts because they should have known the end was near. If they feel cheated, it's their own fault for miscalculating when Congress would pass a legal online gambling bill.