It was “black Friday” for many online poker players in the US last week.
The US government effectively shut down US operations for three of the largest online and mobile gambling platforms in the world.
It was a move that could very well set the stage for an epic courtroom showdown that could ultimately determine the legality of online gaming and, in particular, for-profit poker in the US once and for all.
As it presently stands, the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker have been formally indicted on serious charges, including bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling.
The federal government is also proceeding with a $3 billion civil suit against the three prominent online gambling brands to recover profits from the supposedly illegal operations.
According to an official statement released by the US Justice Department, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As charged, 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.”
“Moreover,” Bharara added, “as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits.”
To read the full statement and review the formal charges filed by US justice officials, click here.