FBI shuts down online poker sites and seizes customer money

Roz Zurko's picture

The FBI has seized online poker sites as well as customers' money today, in an immediate shutdown of the largest U.S.online poker sites.

Internet Poker sites were shut down in the U.S. today as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York released criminal charges against a number of online poker websites in the U.S.. Charges were also lodged against a number of companies that have been processing payments to and from these poker sites online, according to the TNW United States Website.

This has left millions of dollars unavailable to the players that have their money tied up in these online sites. These poker sites are the largest in the U.S.. With no warning, everything was suspended immediately, including the plays. This also rendered the money owed unavailable. There is no word if this money will ever be recovered by the people who were on these gambling sites.

In 2006 a law was passed that made it illegal for financial institutions to process payments that would be sent towards online gambling sites. The law only put a dent in the problem for a short while, as there was still many organizations that were willing to process the payments and were easy to find. These organizations either believed they were still operating legally or didn’t care that they were breaking the law. This has now changed today.

The lawsuit that came without warning today resulted in the immediate suspension for U.S. players to online gambling services. The Poker Players Alliance will be coming out with a statement shortly.

Last year a bill to legalize and regulate the online gambling sites failed to pass the House last year. A chance still exists that it may succeed this year. This move today might just mean the end to online poker. There is not any loop holes or easy ways around this.

The online poker sites have customer accounts where they draw and add to these accounts as they win and loose at this gambling game. These in-house accounts are holding millions of dollars of U.S. citizens money. The accounts allow you to make withdrawals at anytime to get your money out of the account. Many however, leave it in the accounts to continue playing these poker games.

When the online poker games were suspended today, so were these customer accounts. It is not known if the money will ever be able to be recovered. These online poker sites are played by ordinary people, playing the same games that they would play in area casinos.

The four largest U.S. online poker houses that were seized by the FBI were Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and UB.com. According to the website TNW United States. The charges they are facing are bank fraud, money laundering, along with illegal gambling offenses.

The website is suggesting that this all came about due to information that Daniel Tzvetkoff has given to the feds after his arrest for being the master mind of the payment system used for the online poker houses.

The website TNW United States is also saying that they have received reports that payout checks from Poker Stars have been bouncing. They are unsure if this is related to the shut down of these sites.

When the sites are accessed by online customers, they will be moved over to the FBI warning page, if they have not already.

Reference: TNW United States

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