Online poker

Top US online poker site owners charged with fraud


The owners of the three largest online poker sites in the U.S. were accused on Friday of tricking regulators and banks into processing billions of dollars worth of illegal Internet gambling proceeds.

In total, 11 people, including the owners of Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars, were charged with violating U.S. anti-Internet gambling laws, according to charges filed by federal prosecutors.

The court documents filed by prosecutors also include civil money laundering charges seeking to recover at least $3 billion from the companies, which are all based overseas.

The Internet domain names of the companies were also seized.

According to prosecutors, two of the men charged were arrested on Friday, one is expected to turn himself in to law enforcement and eight others are not currently in the U.S.

Raymond Bitar, 39, of Full Tilt Poker and Isai Scheinberg, 64, of PokerStars were charged with violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and other laws. Absolute Poker owners Brent Beckley, 31, and Scott Tom, 31, faced similar charges.

The criminal charges filed in court outlined a scheme by the company owners and some of their employees to direct the gambling profits to online shell companies that would appear legitimate to banks processing payments.

News of the charges comes as regulators crackdown on Internet gambling in the U.S., where it has been illegal since 2006.

In March, Nevada-based Wynn Resorts Ltd said it had entered into a partnership with PokerStars, and that together they would lobby to legalise online poker in the U.S.

U.S. lawmakers have previously tried to pass legislation legalising Internet gambling in the hope of reaping billions in tax revenue.

Lana Galea View Comments

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