Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The House Finally Lost

The House Finally Lost

First it was Pokerstars.com, what's next Obama? Sol.exe? It's a slippery slope, I guess this just goes to show you that you need to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em.
Feds Go 'All In' Against Online Poker Sites

In a dramatic move sure to send shockwaves through the surging Internet poker world, U.S. officials shut down and seized the domain names for the three largest U.S. online poker companies on Friday.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, unsealed an indictment Friday afternoon charging 11 defendants, including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offenses.

At the same time, the U.S. seized five Internet domain names used to host the poker games and filed a civil money laundering and a civil complaint against the companies, their assets and the assets of several of their payment processors. Restraining orders were also issued against more than 75 bank accounts used by the poker companies and their payment processes.

“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,” Bharara said in a statement. “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."

The indictment lists five founders of the poker companies: Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate of PokerStars, Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick of Full Tilt Poker and Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of Absolute Poker.

“These defendants, knowing full well that their business with U.S. customers and U.S. banks was illegal, tried to stack the deck,” said Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director-in-charge at the FBI. “The defendants bet the house that they could continue their scheme, and they lost."

According to the indictment, these individuals obtained accounts at U.S. banks for the poker companies by lying about the nature of the transactions and covering up those lies by creating phone corporations and Web sites.
Why, I'm shocked. Who would have known that the gambling industry had a dark and seedy side? I would have never guessed it.

The most comical aspect of all this is that it's the N.Y. Southern district court that pushed for this is the same one who has jurisdiction over Wall Street. And yet they focus on all this while Wall Street unfairly gets off with a slap on the wrist.

While it's completely unfair, it's still very funny watching people gambling knowing they're circumventing the law and bitch about getting caught.

And while Wall Street should be prosecuted too, that doesn't mean we can't laugh at poker retards who have suddenly found their gambling earnings placed on hold.

When you think about it, Poker is a very adequate method for stealing money from exceedingly stupid rich people. And as funny as this story is, I just can't really get excited about this

The funny thing is that Wachovia laundered hundreds of billions in Mexican cartel drug money and got off with a deferred prosecution by paying a simply $160 million.

It does make you wonder why the government had such a hard-on for online gambling? They've been pretty consistent in trying to shut it down from as long as I could remember. Hell, they've been going after it since the Clinton days and it seems to be a pretty static unwavering priority. What presumably financial industry interest do these stupid little sites threaten and how?

I guess it would be pretty obvious that it's the Las Vegas casinos and owners who are lining those lobbyist pockets. Who else would have some passion to keep away the over saturation of gambling in becoming some sort of regular ol' past time and not something you have to travel to the desert to do legally? People flock to Sin city, Atlantic city and boat rides outside of U.S. law to gamble. If they made it legal to do it online, what would be the point of Vegas? The buffets? Please.

It's also an easy way to throw a bone to the christian right. They like the crackdown because gambling is a sinful practice and even though a ton of Americans do gamble online, none of the gamblers care enough about it to change their voting habits over a few indictments.

I also hear that the NFL lobbies hard against online gambling because they don't like sports betting. I'm not really sure why they would care, but they do. So it's really just a major push by those who own casinos and pay a lot in taxes to keep such moral gray zones to be legal in just the back corners of society.

And it's not like they wouldn't want a piece of it, in fact, that's the major reason why they don't want it legalized... yet. Because they don't like competition and they want time to get into the market and set up their own sites. Harrash knows they could make tons of money off an official world series of poker gambling site. The only problem is that Pokerstars and Full Tilt are way ahead of them in the software and customer service department.

So it really comes down to gambling being illegal because the mega casino companies got beat to the punch and their only way to compete is to lobby to keep it illegal for the time being. But hey, it does make the fact that all these poker players just did a collective What the fuck when they realized their money they had in their account is held indefinitely.

Like I said, I really can't feel sorry for anyone who loses money engaging in an illegal activity. I guess the answer to all that is they probably should have had more lobbyist.

It also does make you wonder how the US can actually enforce something when they clearly have no jurisdiction over the land that the website is hosted in. Not sure how every bank in every country can just buckle over at the sign of trouble. Typically a court in each jurisdiction needs to issue their own restraining order. But hey, oh well. Gambling is bad, duh.

Which begs the question on the aspect of who really gets fucked when the US Government does a successful civil forfeiture on a payment processor or a poker site with US bank accounts. The answer, of course, is the poker players since it's their money. Even if it's done in an illegal manner. But the most money that is fucked here and is being essentially seized by the government is from the people.

Then you factor in that Lotto tickets are how a lot of states make their budgets work. Michigan just added a new Powerball game and California has countless numbers of ways to tax the poor and stupid out of their dollar with promises of a non-shitty future.

They advertise what the pot is for the Powerball and Megamillions on highway signs left and right. But hey, all casinos are money makers and nothing more, right? Just ask future presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Donald Trump owned a casino once.. Oddly enough he ran it so well that he bankrupted the entire casino chain. Now I know you're wondering how one actually even does that. I mean, Casinos, as any Indian would tell you, are perfect methods to print money. But hey, the Donald knows how to bankrupt something.

Essentially, I don't care about this much since I'm not much of a poker player and never have been. but I do feel for the people... even if they really shouldn't have been gambling in such a fashion.

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