The DOJ indicted several poker-site key players and payment processors on what poker players now call Black Friday. According to the New York Post, Bradley Franzen is the first to plead guilty in charges related to the Internet gambling crackdown.
Franzen was a payment processor – essentially a front for the poker sites because banks did not want to do business with poker sites due to the UIGEA. After several years, DOJ apparently gathered enough evidence to indict owners of the poker sites Full Tilt, PokerStars and Absolute Poker (Absolute and UB are owned by the same entity today).
Franzen assisted in setting up fake businesses. As far as the banks were concerned, they had no problem initiating these fake transactions because they simply didn’t know they were actually poker transactions. In one case, a bank official willingly gave the green light for the poker transactions by allegedly taking bribes.
Although there are possible defenses to the UIGEA gambling, bank fraud and money-laundering charges, this first guilty plea suggests that the DOJ has a solid case against the online poker operators and their associates. But with up to 30 years of prison time facing a defendant, it is also not surprising that at least some of the defendants will plead guilty.
A number of the defendants, including all owners of the poker sites, have not turned themselves in and are residing in various places overseas. They could simply decide to avoid prosecution by never entering the United States. But that would likely make it nearly impossible for owners like Ray Bitar (Full Tilt) and Isai Sheinberg (PokerStars) to get licenses for their poker sites in the event that legislation is passed to legalize and regulate online poker.
The same goes for situs judi online as there have been numerous pleas by site owners to legalize it online as they feel that it is quite harmless and involves playing safe where the bets are not as high as in poker or blackjack.
Scott Tom, who is connected to Absolute Poker and, at least by extension, UB, has long been suspected as an inside cheater in online poker and would likely never be involved in getting a license to operate a poker site in the United States. But Bitar and Scheinberg could at least stand some chance if they would plead guilty and put this situation behind them after serving a few years.
More guilty pleas are likely to ensue. At the same time, however, there seems to be growing support among politicians for legalized online poker. Although it may take years for that to happen, Washington, D.C. has already passed laws to have online poker, and the Nevada Assembly (the state’s equivalent to the House of Representatives) just passed a bill to provide licensing for online poker provided that a federal law expressly allows such a state practice.