Absolute Poker Founder Pleads Guilty To Violating UIGEA
Back in April, executives from PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were indicted on charges of violating the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. That law, according to many lawmakers, was ill-advised, but the Department of Justice chose to go after companies earlier this year that were in violation of the law.
On Tuesday, the DoJ received their first-ever guilty plea involving the UIGEA. Absolute Poker co-founder Brent Beckley pleaded guilty to knowingly deceiving financial institutions into processing online gambling transactions. At hearing Tuesday in a Manhattan court, Beckley explained his stance.
"I knew it was illegal to accept credit cards from players to gamble on the Internet."
The next step in the process will be sentencing, but legal analysts believe Beckley will receive no more than eighteen months in prison. That is a penalty that will be minimal compared to the millions of dollars that Beckley brought in for Absolute Poker over the years.
The more damning penalty for Absolute Poker may be the premise that they will be excluded from future dealings with US online gamblers. Dozens of US lawmakers are working to overturn the UIGEA and regulate online poker in the US. If that occurs, foreign companies in good standing with the country could receive licenses.
PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker all were on their way to gaining those licenses when the executives were indicted. PokerStars had a deal with Wynn Resorts, but Steve Wynn terminated the deal shortly after the indictment was handed down.
Wynn, Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts, and other US-based gaming companies have started to align with foreign companies in preparation of what many believe will be inevitable changes to the current laws. Millions of poker players were left without a place to enjoy their game online after the indictments earlier this year, and they reacted by flooding their local representatives' offices with calls and e-mails.
In the time since the indictments, several bills have been proposed that would regulate online poker. The movement, however, will absorb a big blow when its main proponent in the US House, Representative Barney Frank, retires. Frank has tried on several occasions to have the UIGEA overturned, but his efforts to date have been unsuccessful.
Many of the players that had funds in their Full Tilt accounts at the time of the indictment were not paid by the company. A group of French investors has agreed to purchase the ailing company, and expects to pay the funds to the Department of Justice. Players can file claim forms to receive their funds with the DoJ.
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