The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reportedly shut down three
of the largest online poker sites available to United States
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the FBI has
charged 11 people -- including the founders of PokerStars.com,
AbsolutePoker.com and FullTiltPoker.com -- with bank fraud, money
laundering and violating gambling laws. The government is
reportedly seeking $3 billion from the accused for the charges
filed against them.
The shut-down of the aforementioned companies may greatly affect
the world of MMA, as online poker sites have traditionally served
as sponsors for both fighters and events. Though neither the
Bellator allows poker sites as sponsors, Strikeforce
has prominently featured FullTiltPoker.com as a sponsor in the
Following Congress' passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling and
Enforcement Act of 2006, one highly successful site,
PartyPoker.com, shut down operations. However, instead of
explicitly making online gambling illegal, the vague law instead
disallowed companies from taking payments for “unlawful” gambling
activities, and U.S. citizens continued to play.
The companies allegedly used several techniques to escape the scope
of the law, including moving their headquarters overseas to extend
beyond the scope of the new act. For instance, PokerStars.com is
located on the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom.
Another strategy allegedly employed by the companies was to
disguise customer deposits as payments made to fictional online
companies in another attempt to navigate the new law. When banks
began noticing this practice and refusing to process the
transactions, the companies reportedly turned to smaller,
struggling banks and other institutions to process payments.
The sites have each had their homepages replaced by an FBI notice
stating that the domains have been seized through a legal arrest
warrant obtained through the United States District Court of the
Southern District of New York.