Two weeks ago, in a surprise move, the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down the websites of three online poker sites: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. Money laundering and bank fraud are the issues at hand — so says the FBI.
Internet Cards Games Outlawed In 2006, But Sites Still Operated
Although the U.S. government effectively outlawed Internet poker in 2006, the major online gaming sites found various loopholes to evade the law. For years, the government had accepted the arrangement, mainly because every online poker site is based overseas. PokerStars is located in the Isle of Man, while Full Tilt Poker operates out of Ireland.
This made prosecuting such sites difficult, especially given the growth of the industry and the profits these companies funneled into their host countries’ economies. All the while, online poker sites routinely advertised on television inside the United States, despite its illegality.
Online Poker Black Friday: The Day The Feds Stopped Online Gaming In The U.S.
But on “Black Friday” — everything changed. The U.S. government shut down all Internet poker sites within the states. Players were pissed; would they get their money back!? [UPDATE: The players did, indeed, get their money back.]
The FBI intends to follow through with its prosecution of the online poker sites, and is seeking $3 billion in restitution. But this has created a lot of backlash, especially among foreign countries that love the revenues that online gambling generate.
Antigua Is Angry About Black Friday, Because It Relies On Internet Gaming Revenue
Antigua and Barbuda is preparing to file a formal complaint against the United States with the World Trade Organization, claiming the prosecution is a protectionist measure that restrains trade.
Antigua is the home of Absolute Poker, one of the biggest companies on the small Caribbean island. Antigua is expected to lose a lot of potential tax revenue if the prosecution is upheld, prompting the appeal to the WTO.
Online Poker Attorney
With the disagreement heading to the WTO, lawyers knowledgeable in Federal Trade Commission rules will become very important to the process. The World Trade Organization dictates detailed conditions for membership, usually in the desire to encourage trade among member nations.
These conditions, in their actual implementation, run for thousands of pages, usually in rather arcane regulations. Within the United States government, FTC lawyers are best equipped to manage the a formal WTO complaint process. Because if one thing is for sure, it is that this crackdown of the online poker sites is far from over.