Today, the internet gambling industry just got turned on its head. Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Janice Fedarcyk, Assistant-Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), unsealed an indictment charging the founders of the three largest Internet poker companies doing business in the United States with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. Others were charged, as well.
According to the indictment, “The United States also filed a civil money laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint (the “Civil Complaint”) against the Poker Companies, their assets, and the assets of several payment processors for the Poker Companies. In addition, restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors, and five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to host their illegal poker games were seized.
The Justice Department documents also go on to say that “Defendants CAMPOS and ELIE were arrested this morning in Saint George, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada, respectively. ELIE will appear later today before a U. S. Magistrate Court Judge in Las Vegas, Nevada. CAMPOS will appear before a U.S. Magistrate Court Judge in Saint George, Utah on April 18, 2011. Defendant FRANZEN is expected to appear for his arraignment on April 19, 2011 in the Southern District of New York. Defendants BITAR, SCHEINBERG, BURTNICK, TATE, TOM, BECKLEY, RUBIN and LANG are not presently in the United States and have not yet been arrested.”
According to my friend Elliot, “it appears that the websites for Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars are still operational right now, although I don’t have a list of domain names that these companies use for their businesses.”
He also agrees with me, that this could certainly be a game changer for the online poker industry:
“This could be a game changer, since these are all major websites, and I don’t recall seizures of domain names for major poker companies like this. One of the most interesting things to follow will be learning how company clients will get their millions of dollars in deposits refunded.”
The Daniel Tzvetkoff Connection
I am now learning that an Australian named Daniel Tzvetkoff is the one who “single-handedly built the online industry … then handed it to the U.S. government on a platter.”
According to an article in the Courier Mail and Business Insider, “Daniel Tzvetkoff knows the operations of these poker site inside and out. He’s the one man positioned to give these companies to the U.S. Attorneys on a silver platter. And it looks like that’s exactly what he did, cooperating with the authorities to avoid his own lengthy jail sentence.”