Here's what I got from MSNNews:
WASHINGTON - An advocacy group for online poker said Tuesday
that the federal government has frozen more than $30 million
in the accounts of payment processors that handle the
winnings of thousands of online poker players.
The Justice Department long has maintained that
Internet gambling is illegal,
a view that the poker group challenges.
The Poker Players Alliance told The Associated Press
that the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York
instructed three banks — Citibank, Goldwater Bank
and Alliance Bank of Arizona — to freeze the accounts.
Documents obtained by the AP show that a magistrate judge
in the district issued a seizure warrant last week for an account
at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco,
and that a federal prosecutor told Alliance Bank to freeze accounts.
In a letter dated Friday and faxed to Alliance Bank,
the prosecutor said accounts held by payment processor Allied Systems Inc. are subject to seizure and forfeiture
“because they constitute property involved in money laundering transactions and illegal gambling offenses.”
The letter was signed by Arlo Devlin-Brown,
assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
In another letter faxed the same day, Devlin-Brown asks
that the bank treat the funds “as legally seized” by the FBI,
saying that the government has probable cause that the gambling payments of U.S. residents had been directed to offshore illegal Internet gambling businesses.
“The FBI has authority to seize proceeds of specified
unlawful activity without a warrant under exigent circumstances,” wrote Devlin-Brown — a process criticized by the Poker Players Alliance.
In addition, a grand jury subpoena issued last week to
Allied Systems seeks communications,
financial transactions and processing services between
the company and Internet gambling operations.
The subpoenas also seek corporate records and bank accounts.
A spokeswoman at the Southern District declined to comment.
John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance,
called the government’s move an “unprecedented action”
against online poker players.
In a letter Monday night to Devlin-Brown, Pappas requested that his group be notified and given the opportunity to be heard regarding attempts to seize the frozen funds.
He said that “seizure of Allied Systems’ bank accounts would constitute a violation of due process because there are no exigent circumstances to justify deprivation of PPA members’
property without prior notice and a hearing.”
“The PPA will pursue every legal course available to ensure
that poker players’ funds are not seized and their right to
play poker online is protected,” Pappas wrote.
In the interview, Pappas said 20,000 player accounts
were affected, but that his group has received assurances
from online poker sites that the players would be fully compensated.
A 2006 law prohibits financial institutions from accepting payments from credit cards, checks or electronic fund transfers to settle online wagers. The Justice Department viewed Internet gambling as illegal even before that.
In a statement, the alliance chairman, former New York Republican Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, said the frozen funds belonged to individual poker players, not poker Web sites.
“This money should be immediately released by the
Southern District to ensure that player payouts are not
further disrupted,” he said.
The alliance, which is funded by its poker player members
and the Interactive Gaming Council, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based trade association for online casinos,
plans to spend $3 million lobbying this congressional session.
The group supports legislation by Rep. Barney Frank,
a Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, that would regulate rather than ban Internet gambling.
At least half the $16 billion Internet gambling industry,
which is largely hosted on overseas sites,
is estimated to be fueled by U.S. bettors.
Well, its about time the gov to overstep boundries again. Yes,
may be ok to do by law, technically, but this shouldn't be law in the 1st place.
8 billion dollars a year, going to other countries, while our government is to
retarded and nieve to realize that the amount of money spent in the industry.
I mean, you know what 8 billion can do for the U.S gov? that 0.0001% of what
the gov has already spent could put us down to at least 10 more golden
toilet seats or maybe even start another "bailout" for another car company.
Since the gov owns the majority of GM now (60% of its stock) i guess the people
own GM. I want to sell my share of stock now, and bail my damn self out.
Can't wait to see where all of this leads to, because this atm this so much more important than an 8 year war, a flopping economy with an unemployment rate nationally
of 9.5%, North Korea missles , and the security of the U.S.
It kind of make sense to the fact that if the funds are going to illegal poker sites and are being laundered the gov. should make efforts to check into the matter. But if the funds are being paid out to legal U.S. citizens they need to keep their noses out of it. Tough call here considering it's not that easy to recognize legal and illegal accounts. Thanks for the FYI. :socool::thank you:
With the economy as bad as it is and with the local and federal gov. cutting corners and programs left and right they should legalize and in some way capitalize on online gambling and poker...millions to be had if they would pull their heads out of the sand
They say that online gambling in a whole is about a 16 billion
dollar industry, with about $8 Billion coming from the USA alone. Looks like
you could be talking about billions or close to them instead of millions.
The Gov. always wants to do things the hard way, and eventually having to
do what they should have done in the 1st place. Just like prohibition with alcohol.
Ended up regulated and taxed, the same will happen with online gambling, its just a matter of When.