Top Online Sites Indicted

NewsFriday morning an indictment against the founders of the three largest online poker sites was unveiled by federal authorities. According to the indictment, the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker have been brought on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling according to an article on MarketWatch. Restraining orders have also been issued on more than 75 bank accounts used by the online poker companies and their payment processors, as well as five Internet domain names.

Players on the PokerStars client registering for a tournament are currently being met with the message: "We are sorry but, due to government regulations, playing real money tournaments is not allowed in your area and are unable to play in Tournaments, sit at cash games, or transfer money at this time."

In a PDF of the indictment, The United States Department of Justice named 11 defendants, 7 of which show their citizenship in the U.S, 3 in Canada, and 1 was unnamed but resides on The Isle of Man. The U.S. Citizens are listed as Raymond Bitar (age 39), Scott Tom (31), Brent Beckley (31), Bradley Franzen (41), Ira Rubin (52), Chad Elie (31), and John Campos (57). The 3 Canadian citizens are Nelson Burtnick (40), Ryan Lang (36), and Isai Scheinberg (64 est.), who also holds duel citizenship with Isreal. The last named defendant is Paul Tate, whose citizenship and age was unlisted.

The charges include Conspiracy to Violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act of 2006 ("UIGEA"), Violation of the UIGEA, and Operation of Illegal Gambling Business. Each act of violation of the UIGEA carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, 3 years supervised released, and forfeiture of proceeds of offense. The DOJ also brought charges against the 11 defendants for Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering Conspiracy carrying separate 30 and 20 year prison sentences, fines of $1 million and $500,000 respectively. In total, at least $3 billion in civil laundering penalties from the poker companies and the defendants is being sought after.

Says Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharra "As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. Banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged 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."

Janice K. Fedarcyk, Federal Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director-In-Charge stated "These defendants, knowing full well that their business with U.S. customers and U.S. 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."

According to the indictment, John Campos was arrested in Utah and Chad Elie was arrested Friday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bradley Franzen is expected to appear in court for his arraignment on April 19th, 2011. The remaining parties who are not presently in the United States, have not been arrested but according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Southern District of New York is working with foreign law enforcement agencies and Interpol to arrest the defendants.

Visiting any of the 3 websites in question displays an FBI seizure notice:


And depositing on PokerStars for US players has been blocked as well:


We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.


  1. invite
    invite on 04/15/2011 4:06 p.m.

    Your joking right? This isn't April 1...

    I'm in Canada - I just logged in to PS and AP and everything looked ok. Is it just US players seeing those messages ?


  2. popeye
    popeye on 04/15/2011 4:09 p.m.

    wow I wondered why there were less regulars online tonight

  3. jimbobscruggs
    jimbobscruggs on 04/15/2011 4:11 p.m.

    Unfortunately, this is legit.

  4. webhocke4
    webhocke4 on 04/15/2011 4:14 p.m.

    i ust went on the site with no problems. anyone else experfiencing this?

  5. Boohaa
    Boohaa on 04/15/2011 4:23 p.m.

    boom goes teh dyna... fuck it u know u the rest

  6. b3asy
    b3asy on 04/15/2011 4:27 p.m.

    can we cash out? will i get arrested lol>>????

  7. jinuyg
    jinuyg on 04/15/2011 4:27 p.m.

    question for non US players... So I'm debating on moving to either Canada or a different country. My question do you guys withdraw your money? Am I allowed to open up , let say canadian bank, and wire tranfer my poker funds to there? Thanks

  8. kcbz_gunrok
    kcbz_gunrok on 04/15/2011 4:28 p.m.


  9. McKenna2010
    McKenna2010 on 04/15/2011 4:31 p.m.

    anyone know how to get around it? anyone else need to login to get their $$$?

  10. zeelazyman
    zeelazyman on 04/15/2011 4:52 p.m.

    Hey Jinuyg this is in response to your comment. I am a Canadian Pokerstars player, the way I withdraw money from my accoiunt is through the use of my Canadian Bank Account. I linked it to pokerstars, very secure, and I cashout via that method. There is no fee and the pokerstars money is within my Canadian bank account within 1 day(no lie). I found it very conveient and there is no min, well 5$ to cash out.

  11. Mattc
    Mattc on 04/15/2011 4:54 p.m.

    any word on cash outs?

  12. eunhobae
    eunhobae on 04/15/2011 4:55 p.m.

    can i open up a canadian bank account without being a citizen

  13. callmenuts
    callmenuts on 04/15/2011 5:11 p.m.

    same question as eunhobae

  14. paulsaso
    paulsaso on 04/15/2011 5:26 p.m.

    cant cash out... cant join any games. this is insaine

  15. brocktherock68
    brocktherock68 on 04/15/2011 5:28 p.m.

    RIP Doyle

  16. empiredrop
    empiredrop on 04/15/2011 5:53 p.m.

    as a non us player should i be concerned about this??

  17. mobuko
    mobuko on 04/15/2011 5:56 p.m.

    i am in germany and i cant withdraw anything either

  18. davidmilla
    davidmilla on 04/15/2011 6:03 p.m.

    just curious where everyone is going to play now? Any suggestions? All i know is pokerstars and fulltilt.

    BURLISON on 04/15/2011 6:10 p.m.

    I heard BODOG is business as normal and Okay, but IDK

    BURLISON on 04/15/2011 6:13 p.m.

    I wonder when the new address service starts in other countries for US players to say they live in another country LOL

  21. mmkaywhat
    mmkaywhat on 04/15/2011 6:15 p.m.

    U.S. players: Anybody know if our funds are in jeopardy? The articles I've read speak about money laundering and fraud by the higher-ups of PokerStars, FullTilt, and Absolute, not about the illegality of online poker. With that said, should we be worried about losing our money in this crisis???

  22. Eugster
    Eugster on 04/15/2011 6:16 p.m.


  23. davidmilla
    davidmilla on 04/15/2011 6:17 p.m.

    eunhobae just curious was your first concern money you have on the site? Or where you are going to play?

  24. Eugster
    Eugster on 04/15/2011 6:18 p.m.

    I like Europe

  25. burrred
    burrred on 04/15/2011 6:19 p.m.

    no hablo let me play!

  26. Tyzillian
    Tyzillian on 04/15/2011 6:22 p.m.

    What bull! Free country? I think it's time to rise up against this sensor ship. Just like the Egyptians and all the other countries fighting for there freedoms. The US blast China for not letting their citizens access any website they want. Isn't this the same. Didn't Washington D.C. approve online gaming the day before. Is this a way to keep all gaming money in the USA. I am all for that but just give me back my online poker!

  27. 44nuts44
    44nuts44 on 04/15/2011 6:30 p.m.

    Just sat down after dinner for some low stakes poker tourneys and found out the bad news! What is wrong with our government? I pay thousands of dollars in taxes and now I can't even enjoy my leisure time. This is BS.

  28. Corey
    Corey on 04/15/2011 6:38 p.m.

    I am a Canadian and I just cashed out to see if it worked, and it worked fine for me!

    GL all....

    BURLISON on 04/15/2011 6:42 p.m.

    I'm about to move to Canada LOL

  30. scitchr888
    scitchr888 on 04/15/2011 6:42 p.m.

    We're screwed. Let's hope some rational thinking prevails and the government figures out a way to track and tax online gaming. Not that I really want that, but I want to be able to play the games I enjoy without having to travel a distance when I want to play.

  31. VP
    VP on 04/15/2011 6:46 p.m.

    Whoa Good thing i just got felted 2days ago both on fulltilt and i guess im safe :) cetttt is my screenname ill accept donation from non- us players..Lol

  32. scottytfunk
    scottytfunk on 04/15/2011 6:58 p.m.

    I can't cash out and I just went on the run of my life, shit!

  33. zeelazyman
    zeelazyman on 04/15/2011 7:07 p.m.

    I tried cashing out on Ps and it worked for me, I am canadian, move here if you guys want 0 poker restrictions.

  34. poo-onastick
    poo-onastick on 04/15/2011 7:19 p.m.

    It is very hard to open a canadian bank acct as a US citizen. I lived in Canada for 4 yrs and never got one. It is actually near impossible to open a bank acct in any other country. The other countries wont take our money due to government regulations and laundering scandals. I even tried to open up a Swiss acct in Zurich. Min deposit from a US citizen is $1mill.

  35. Chris16309
    Chris16309 on 04/15/2011 7:27 p.m.

    Well, doesn't that just suck. I guess its back to the play money tables for me.

  36. eunhobae
    eunhobae on 04/15/2011 7:52 p.m.

    you cashed out but u didnt get the money. I did the same in the us and it looks normal too...but I dont have the money

  37. eunhobae
    eunhobae on 04/15/2011 7:53 p.m.

    i have 80k in the account i want it back

  38. matix321
    matix321 on 04/15/2011 7:54 p.m.

    lol HOME OF THE FREE. fuck that bitch Janice too

  39. fulltiltsucks
    fulltiltsucks on 04/15/2011 8:10 p.m.


  40. Chris16309
    Chris16309 on 04/15/2011 8:21 p.m.

    I only had $13 bucks and some FPPs in my Stars account, but I think I'd be slightly pissed if I had 80K in there and couldn't get it out. That sucks, dude.

  41. Chris16309
    Chris16309 on 04/15/2011 8:24 p.m.

    Heh, I wonder if there will be any table talk about the indictments on NBC's "Poker After Dark" tonight, or if we'll see any of those slick Pokerstars or FullTilt commercials. I'll have to tune in at 2AM and see.

  42. jimmyray844
    jimmyray844 on 04/15/2011 8:27 p.m.

    I cashed out on Bodog Tuesday.. I only had 950 in my account but that is my ENTIRE Vegas bankroll for next weekend. I hope this comes

  43. zoolander
    zoolander on 04/15/2011 8:29 p.m.

    dont bother, poker after dark isn't exactly recorded and aired on the same day lol

  44. xALTx
    xALTx on 04/15/2011 8:51 p.m.

    what a shitty thing to happen

  45. M2theG
    M2theG on 04/15/2011 9:37 p.m.

    Yea, this is just terrible. Fulltilt pays for my bills, and Pokerstars pays for my hookers! What are we gonna do????

  46. trbsht
    trbsht on 04/15/2011 10:05 p.m.

    This is all very good news. For all the winners out there, you can shove it. I haven't played in a few months and maybe lost a couple hundred over the last 5 years online. But this isn't about me, as most of the winners will say. This is about a highly unregulated industry rife with fraud. I applaud the U.S. Government for finally getting something right as of late.
    I have gone back to live cards at real casinos. Online poker really needs to go, for one simple reason. It has absolutely no benefits whatsoever to the average individual, only to the few who think of themselves as a victim in this scenario, because they are, "winning players".

  47. trbsht
    trbsht on 04/15/2011 10:08 p.m.

    If it is taxed, you will be sorry. The fees alone that will have to be raised will chase away all of your precious fish. I hope this isn't pretty. I would love to see some so called pros go to prison over this.

  48. jlsmms1
    jlsmms1 on 04/15/2011 10:09 p.m.

    well I think we need some address to send a few million letters to the governmet jerks someone post some address so they can spend the next few months trowing letters away come on poker players lets stick together and show them whats up

  49. on 04/15/2011 10:16 p.m.

    there are some US players still online i.e. iamsnow and some others how is this possible?

  50. dannypigs2
    dannypigs2 on 04/15/2011 10:20 p.m.

    Yeah it says im gonna get my money but I havent gotten it yet. Dear lord Pokerstars, hold up for me. Im in college. Everything I own is in that account. 30k. If I dont get it my college years were pretty much a waste. What is the fastest way to cash out. I usually do the max 2.5k echeck but id like to do a wire. I emailed stars but I doubt theyll get back to me.

  51. lechacal999
    lechacal999 on 04/15/2011 10:24 p.m.

    USA SUCK !!! The responsibles for economic crisis (responsible for millions people to lose all their money) are free and poker operator are in jail. What a shame !!!Boycott usa company (Wall Mart, McDonald, us movies, etc) Us government are responsible for many deaths with the Irak war and they are free. What a shame !!! They lie about september 11th and they are free. What a shame !!! The real criminal are free. What a shame !!! Death to USA !!!

  52. UberDonk
    UberDonk on 04/15/2011 10:58 p.m.



  53. qwertz890
    qwertz890 on 04/15/2011 10:58 p.m.

    I'm in Germany. PS just posted a message on their client stating that all player funds are safe and for non-us-players it's business as usual. I cashed out some funds anyway, which seemed to work, but is still processing. I also had some 900$ on my FullTilt Account, which I cashed out onto moneybookers. The funds cleared into my mb-account instantly.
    Best of luck to you americans!

  54. jinuyg
    jinuyg on 04/15/2011 11:06 p.m.

    hey zeelazeman...hey thanks man for the response. Thats prolly what i'm planning on doing if US poker is banned here for good. I'm actually thinking about moving out to Canada next week LOL. no lie. Anyways..i'm not I able to open a bank account there? Also I was thinking Vancouver, which part are you from..whats the rent $ looking like, is there public transportation? Could I get your email..or hit me up..thanks man!

  55. jinuyg
    jinuyg on 04/15/2011 11:53 p.m.

    hey zeelazeman…hey thanks man for the response. Thats prolly what i’m planning on doing if US poker is banned here for good. I’m actually thinking about moving out to Canada next week LOL. no lie. Anyways..i’m not I able to open a bank account there? Also I was thinking Vancouver, which part are you from..whats the rent $ looking like, is there public transportation?

  56. fupeg
    fupeg on 04/16/2011 12:27 a.m.

    Sad...F's up day. I have only $800 in my account...but that is my bankroll. I can't afford to lose it. America has lost what made us great a long time ago. We have a gov't that does not mind war profiteering and illegal wars...but is worried about this. We can gamble on the stock market...the price of gold, lottery tickets, futures markets, real eststate, derivitives...but Poker no! Our founding fathers are rolling in their grave!

  57. Airman8403
    Airman8403 on 04/16/2011 1:38 a.m.

    Effing wow. What else can be said? This is an outrage.

  58. yorkie6013
    yorkie6013 on 04/16/2011 1:55 a.m.

    @ qwertz890

    UK here and the other way around, Stars instantly into MB, Tilt still 'processing'.

  59. Adas Mania
    Adas Mania on 04/16/2011 2:30 a.m.


  60. sctrojans
    sctrojans on 04/16/2011 3:44 a.m.

    This is a sad day in the poker world! What happened to America the Free? We should have the right to play online poker as U.S. citizens. They should tax this and make it legal just like they do alcohol and cigarettes which happens to kill hundreds of thousands of people a year. NO ONE DIES FROM PLAYING POKER!!!!

    Just Saying !

  61. Chris Prentice
    Chris Prentice on 04/16/2011 4:27 a.m.

    Gotta feel sorry for the amercians but this is gonna affect everyone on FTP and PS will lower amount of players, lower the class of players and for tournment players will lower gtd prizepools.

    Hopefully this gets suited quickly.

  62. Oettam
    Oettam on 04/16/2011 5:04 a.m.

    Hi everyone. I'm used to play on Tilt. At first it seems to be ok but no server connection with the cashier..... Thus it's ok only as long as u have funds. No deposit allowed neither withdrawal...... Gl all

  63. Oettam
    Oettam on 04/16/2011 5:05 a.m.

    Hi again. ITALY here...

  64. 1 wins
    1 wins on 04/16/2011 7:06 a.m.

    Has any amercan tried to withdraw money yet from PS? and get it back... Not sure if i should even try or just leave it in and hope for the best....

  65. cslaw
    cslaw on 04/16/2011 7:14 a.m.

    Man I hate it. I can not believe that this has happened. What a mess. With so many drug problems and the Law enforcement agencys are concentrated on this, give me a break and fire all of them that are invovled with this bull ****

  66. joeblow
    joeblow on 04/16/2011 12:12 p.m.

    Anyone know how some US players are still able to play? I have logged in and have seen some US players still playing.

  67. zeelazyman
    zeelazyman on 04/16/2011 12:17 p.m.

    Hi, im from TO and the transportation here is apparently the 3rd best in North America. Rent rates can vary across the city, not sure about Vancouver though. In regards to opening a Canadian Bank Account, I am not sure of this, you may need a job in Canada and some sort of visa and possible assurance to the banks that you will become a citizen in the next 1-2 years. Good luck jinyug and other fellow american collegues!

  68. APEX23
    APEX23 on 04/16/2011 12:58 p.m.

    Im costa mesa califorina and I WD my mony on friday via E check and the order is pending should take 2-3 days.

    Im opening bank account in mexico and i have hide ip software already on my cpu that shows i play outside of the US. I will be up and playing in about a week

  69. raizorsedge
    raizorsedge on 04/16/2011 1:29 p.m.

    where can u get reliable hide IP software?

  70. APEX23
    APEX23 on 04/16/2011 1:38 p.m.

    it worked great when i had to hide ip in past


  71. Chris16309
    Chris16309 on 04/16/2011 1:56 p.m.

    "..just curious where everyone is going to play now? Any suggestions? All i know is pokerstars and fulltilt."

    I'm in the Northeastern U.S., so if I really wanted to, I could drive out to the Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods Indian Casinos in Connecticut and play on live tables there...they probably don't have any no-limit tables with 5/10 cent blinds like I used to like to play on Stars, though. Or, there's always Atlantic City (ugh).

  72. Chris16309
    Chris16309 on 04/16/2011 2:10 p.m.

    "Anyone know how some US players are still able to play? I have logged in and have seen some US players still playing."

    That is curious, I scanned the lobby listing of all the no-limit cash games on Stars early last night, and there were just a few Americans still playing. When I tried to sit at a micro NL table about an hour later (I was going to go all-in with a bad hand and "donate" my balance to one lucky random offshore player before the Feds seize it), the app wouldn't let me.

    I think the people running Stars are still scrambling around trying to put out fires from all this. If you go to their .eu page (since the FBI owns the .com page now) and read what is listed on the "real money" tab, it still tells you that U.S. players can deposit and withdraw funds.

  73. RabbitFish72
    RabbitFish72 on 04/16/2011 3:03 p.m.

    sctrojans: All freedom is being slowly taken away 911 in the name of the war on terrorism in the USA. I´m so glad I don´t live there...

  74. RabbitFish72
    RabbitFish72 on 04/16/2011 3:04 p.m.

    * since 911

  75. bigem
    bigem on 04/16/2011 5:33 p.m.

    This reminds me of neteller.Money was stuck there for about 7 months.I'm hoping players flock to Lock poker site.This site was well thought out.Not tryin to endorse here,but its nice.But only 7000 players on a saturday:p Timing is odd,why not do this in 2006 or 07.Why this late?It was obvious what ps was doing.I wonder if they are trying to just keep it in the U.S to tax or if competitors were in their ears about pushing charges or shutting them out.My biggest fear at this point is the future on honest gaming period.Collusion was always going on,but now I am concerned about collusion bots.There are sites with webcams trying to get started but that might slow it down low stakes.I think headsup is where to go i guess.

  76. XYcardsPDQ
    XYcardsPDQ on 04/16/2011 5:44 p.m.

    Hopefully the owners of pokerstars and fulltilt are black and part of the blackpanthers, then Holder will drop the charges. lets see can't play poker
    online but we got fags in the army. Things really look great for America

  77. brianatstars
    brianatstars on 04/16/2011 6:53 p.m.

    UK here - cant get on to FTP so my account balnce is gone i guess

    will call the credit card company and request any deposits back i suppose

    i guess FTOPS is cancelled then - im regged for 5 events - thats $1000


  78. 1_lokidog_1
    1_lokidog_1 on 04/16/2011 8:15 p.m.

    Go back to bed America! Your government has figured out whats best for you.. Go back to bed America, your government is in control again. Here, here's American gladiators, go back to bed America. Heres 56 channels of it. Watch them bang there skulls together and congratulate you on how free you are.. You are free to do as we tell you!! You are free to do as we tell you!!

    ~ Im so glad were FREE!!!

  79. Damon789
    Damon789 on 04/16/2011 9:12 p.m.

    Sad day for all US players I have good friends in the US that are absolutely crushed by this. Another bullet in the belly for the US citizens, it's not like they have had to put up with enough in recents times already. Sad,sad ,sad.

  80. Ninjaeden09
    Ninjaeden09 on 04/16/2011 11:21 p.m.

    Damn I love Pokeramericans, they give me money and I give them smileys T_T

  81. jinuyg
    jinuyg on 04/17/2011 12:10 a.m.

    Yo zeelayman..thanks for you information.. I tried to leave you my email ddress but I guess PTR won't allow it. Question, if I moved to Canada as a US citizen, Will banks allow me to open an account there? Do I need to have a job? Or is getting dual citizenship ( if thats even possible) a better way to go.. I'm seriously considering Canada , by next week..if I can continue playing Stars. I might have open a fresh new accout though huh? I would be surprised if Stars or DOJ will allow me to simply change my address and play.

  82. RabbitFish72
    RabbitFish72 on 04/17/2011 2:10 a.m.

    lokidog: It is so sad they turned the most free country into herd of stupid fully controlled sheep. And those few clever that understand what is going on can´t do a shit about it... :(

  83. Tinfoilhat
    Tinfoilhat on 04/17/2011 4:29 a.m.

    Time to really stock up on the MOST precious metal of all in times like these...LEAD!

  84. zeelazyman
    zeelazyman on 04/17/2011 10:38 a.m.

    Hey jinyug, what you can do is contact TD Canada Trust or other Canadian banks Scotia, CIBC ETC and see what their policies on opening Canadian bank accounts are. I am pretty sure you need a social insurance #, at least if you deposit on stars you need one, so maybe that is the first step is getting this.

  85. CanadianAces
    CanadianAces on 04/17/2011 12:27 p.m.

    im canadian, i need to update my ftp software and cant. Guess this means my ftp days are over? I can play at Everest poker still at least, but for how long?

  86. FresaJunior
    FresaJunior on 04/17/2011 4:26 p.m.

    I'm living in Peru. Couldn't install the FTP update either. I uninstalled FTP and then downloaded/reinstalled and it works fine.

  87. Myles316
    Myles316 on 04/18/2011 6:09 a.m.

    IF the U.S. gov't doesnt get their cut, you cannot do business!!! greedy, corrupt scumbags!!!!

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