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3rd Story
The top three online poker sites have gambled in the U.S. and lost. Facing such charges as money laundering, the sites have been shutdown to U.S. residents.

U.S. shuts down online poker

The "Black Friday" shutdown of the top three online poker sites for U.S. players has left card sharks without their favourite place to play – and short on cash.

"I consider it a part-time job," online player Russell Fox said in an April 18 npr.org interview. "I consider it secondary income."

However, the U.S. government considers it illegal and charged the trio of top sites – FullTiltPoker.com, AbsolutePoker.com and PokerStars.com – and people associated with them with money laundering, bank and wire fraud, and violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. In total, the U.S. government is seeking $3 billion in a civil lawsuit and restraining orders, as of May 5, were issues against 76 different banks and payment processors. The government took action on Friday, April 15, and U.S. visitors to the sites saw only an FBI seal.

A key part of the situation is the involvement of Daniel Tzvetkoff. The Australian reportedly processed $500 million over two years. According to Peter Loshak on SBRforum.com, Tzvetkoff is rumoured to have embezzled funds from the sites he was working with and he was turned into the authorities. Loshak writes that the man then began providing the Federal Bureau of Investigation with evidence to make its case.

Another interesting component is the allegation that the sites bought 30 per cent of a small U.S. bank. The sites then allegedly processed payments through this Utah bank. One of its executives has been charged with money laundering in the indictments.

While the big players are shutdown, smaller poker sites continue to operate. However, should players continue to frequent them? Chuck Blount, a writer who covers poker, stated in a May 4 column on mysanantonio.com:

"It's a tremendous risk if you do. While the government ire was directed at the three biggies, it's naive to think the (Department of Justice) blindly will allow other companies to cash in."

The UIGEA was passed in 2006 to regulate online gambling. It "prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law." With this wording, the law targets online poker and other casino-style games while not coming down on such activities as fantasy sports.

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