This is big, big news. The FBI and the US Attorney's office on Friday seized the .com domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and AbsolutePoker, the three biggest online poker operations. The founders, 11 of them, were indicted for fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling.
The indictments are under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act which, up until now, had been used to go after payment processors and shut those down. Now they are going after the actual companies. These three are now out of business in the USA and have had to shift to using the .eu instead of .com to keep their operations going outside that country.
The stories from PokerNews here and here. The reaction from Wicked Chops Poker here. ESPN Poker reacts here and below.
Wow. As someone who watches a lot of poker on TV and sees these companies advertise on TV on these live-poker shows like High Stakes Poker and the like, this is a major shock. The entire poker community in the USA is calling this Black Friday.
You can imagine the chaos this has inflicted on the professionals who play the game. Many of them live in Las Vegas and do "online grinding" at these major sites for hours on end, and actually make a very good living off of this. Now they're going to have to figure out what they are going to do to either get their money back or perhaps move to another country to play online poker.
For the record -- I think this is an outrage and an overreaction by the US government. Poker players want to play online and they have been calling for online poker to be properly regulated for a while now, so that players can play the game without any worries of bank accounts being seized or this kind of chaos happening. Now, the states are going to have to get moving to legalize online poker or else the politicians are going to be inundated with emails from irate poker players angry about this development.
People in Canada and Europe and most of the world are allowed to play online poker for real money -- so should Americans. But the Overzealous States of America would rather criminalize online poker as opposed to making it legal and regulated. Why am I not surprised?
America -- land of freedom? My foot!!!