Friday, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney charged the principals of three of online poker's biggest sites with bank fraud, illegal gambling and laundering billions of dollars.
In all, 11 defendants were charged, including PokerStars' Isai Scheinberg, Fill Tilt Poker's Ray Bitar and Absolute Poker's Scott Tom.
The Internet domain names used by PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet were seized and began redirecting to a message from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI.
Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the office has entered into an agreement with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to allow players to register for refund requests directly with the sites.
"On April 15th, this Office and the FBI took specific legal action against 11 individuals who allegedly engaged not merely in the operation of illegal gambling businesses, but in massive wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering, despite repeated warnings and clear notice that their conduct was illegal in the United States," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
"No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player's deposited funds. In fact, this Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate."
Under the terms of the agreements, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will not allow U.S. residents to play or make deposits, but will regain use of the pokerstars.com and fulltiltpoker.com domain names to allow U.S. players to log on and withdraw funds.
The sites will once again be allowed to conduct international business outside the U.S. through the once-seized domain names as it pleases.
An independent monitor will be appointed to verify PokerStars’ and Full Tilt Poker’s compliance.
An offer has also been extended to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker.