GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 19 - February 2012

By Vin Narayanan Absolute Poker co-founder Brent Beckley entered a guilty plea on December 20 in response to charges of bank fraud, money laundering, illegal gambling offenses and violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) filed by the Department of Justice on April 15. Under the terms of the deal, Beckley pled guilty to one count of bank fraud and wire fraud and one count of con- spiracy to engage in unlawful Internet gambling. Prosecutors are recommend- ing a prison sentence of between 12 and 18 months. Beckley has also agreed to forfeit $300,000. Beckley, 31, had been living in Costa Rica. He voluntarily returned to the U.S. on December 19 to make his guilty plea. Sentencing is scheduled for April 19. “As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, al- ternately tricking some U.S. banks and ef- fectively bribing others to assure the con- tinued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara immediately after the indictments were handed down on what is known as “Black Friday” in online poker circles. “Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling law, the defendants also en- gaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. 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.” PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg and Full Tilt Poker founder Ray Bitar were also indicted in April, and several bank accounts belonging to Absolute, Full Tilt and PokerStars were seized. Since the indictments were issued, Absolute Poker, UB.com and PokerStars stopped accepting U.S. play. Full Tilt stopped accepting U.S. play as well, and eventually shut down its operations when Alderney suspended the company’s li- cense because it did not have enough money to pay its players. Full Tilt is in the process of being acquired by Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT). If the sale is completed, GBT will be responsible for returning money to players outside the U.S., and the DOJ will be responsible for returning money to American players. PokerStars has already returned the money it owed American players when it pulled out of the U.S. market. The status of money owed to Absolute Poker and UB players is unclear. Absolute Poker founder pleads guilty to bank fraud and money laundering By Aaron Todd American online gamblers can no longer gamble on Bodog, as of December 14. Players accessing Bodog.eu from the United States that day found a note stat- ing, “Access to this site is not available from your current location. The Morris Mohawk Gaming Group no longer offers its services under license from the Bodog Brand. You can find their services now available at www.bovada.lv. ” American players are now automati- cally redirected from bodog.com and bodog.eu to bovada.lv. Other than the domain name change (a combination of the words “Bodog” and “Nevada”) and a new landing page, not much has changed for U.S. players. Players can sign into the new site with existing usernames and passwords, and existing balances have been transferred to the new site. Players can access the same games that are available at Bodog Casino, and the sports betting menu looks identical to what is offered at the Bodog Sportsbook and Racebook. U.S. poker players who open up the Bodog Poker client are told that it is no longer supported and bovada.lv software begins downloading immediately on their ma- chine. The software, published by Trident BPO Trading Limited, appears to be iden- tical to Bodog Poker software, and U.S. players on Bovada play on the same net- work and at the same tables as Bodog’s non-U.S. players. Bodog moves U.S. players to Bovada 5 Webmaster News

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