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Sunday, April 17, 2011
After lobbying in Hawaii: Online Poker sites seized by FBI, execs Indicted
By Selected News Articles @ 6:20 PM :: 12031 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics

Here is the April 15 report from the LA Times with appropriate commentary:

The founders of the three largest online poker sites were indicted on Friday in what could serve as a death blow to a thriving industry. 

Just last month these companies were lobbying the Hawaii State Legislature for a Card Casino.

Eleven executives at PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and a number of their affiliates were charged with bank fraud and money laundering in an indictment unsealed in a Manhattan court. Two of the defendants were arrested on Friday morning in Utah and Nevada. Federal agents are searching for the others.

(Indictment:  U.S. v. Scheinberg, 10-CR-336, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.)

In Hawaii, lobbyist John Radcliffe—deeply involved in selecting Abercrombie’s cabinet--leads the charge for legalization of gambling.  A website promoting legalization of gambling in Hawaii is run from Radcliffe’s office.  Radcliffe represents the Michigan-based Marketing Resource Group—owners of a Detroit casino.  Radcliffe also represents the Entertainment Software Association which does include publishers of internet poker software.  But Radcliffe insists, “I have nothing to do with internet gaming or anything like that. Never have had.”  (Note: This corrects an earlier version of this article.)

Prosecutors are seeking to immediately shut down the sites and to eventually send the executives to jail and to recover $3 billion from the companies. By Friday afternoon Full Tilt Poker’s site displayed a message explaining that “this domain name has been seized by the F.B.I. pursuant to an Arrest Warrant.”…

…In 2006 Congress passed a law curtailing online gambling. Most of the leading sites found ways to work around the law, but prosecutors allege that in doing so they broke the law.

“These defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement.

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