April 15, 2011 has become one of the “where were you when” moments of poker.
Seemingly just another day, players instead woke up to DOJ seizure notices on the big three websites available to US players – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute/UB.
Panic immediately took hold with players scrambling for information.
Shortly after a statement was released explaining that 11 defendants had been charged with band fraud and money laundering including PokerStars' Isai Scheinberg, Fill Tilt Poker's Ray Bitar and Absolute Poker's Scott Tom:
"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," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
"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.”
Suddenly PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute/UB were cut off from the massive U.S. online poker market.