On April 15 2011, the United States Department of Justice charged Pokerstars, FullTiltPoker and AbsolutePoker with bank fraud and illegal gambling offenses.
In addition to these charges, the Department seized internet domain names used by the three poker companies and froze 75 of their bank accounts. The same three companies later banned American players from their sites and froze their real money accounts.
The poker agent Brian Balsbaugh estimated that when Pokerstars, FullTilt and Absolute left the market, 95% of the market share for US poker players disappeared.
Those looking at Free Scratch Cards should note that the ramifications of this sudden decrease in online traffic were stark and abrupt. Television poker shows were immediately cancelled (Poker after Dark, The Big Game) and Balsbaugh estimates that the 2011World Series of Poker Main Event will shrink to about one third of the size of last year. According to Pokerscout global poker traffic shrank by 23% due to Black Friday.
It is estimated that $3 billion in assets have been forfeited by the poker companies involved. More seriously, eleven people have been charged with various crimes, including the founder of PokerStars, Isai Scheinberg.
The FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge, Janice Fedarcyk, stated that “these defendants, knowing full well that their business with US customers and US banks was illegal, tried to stack the deck. They lied to banks about the true nature of their business. Then, some of the defendants found banks willing to flout the law for a fee. The defendants bet the house that they could continue their scheme, and they lost.”
The legal case continues.