One of the biggest poker stories to surface in the month of September is how the US Department of Justice is supposedly targeting the Merge Gaming Network, which includes Lock Poker, Carbon Poker, RPM Poker and others. The story broke from a website called Subject Poker as the writer, Noah Stephens-Davidowitz, said that a source gave him information on the potential bust.
Before we get into the specifics, it’s worth mentioning that this source was never actually mentioned in the story. In short, the writer put this article into question before it even got started with the anonymous source. Essentially, using anonymous sources like this isn’t far off from what tabloids and Hollywood gossip magazines do before printing an outrageous story like, “Arnold Swarzenegger pregnant with Twins!”
Moving to the actual article, Noah claimed the source told him that the US Attorney’s Office in Maryland was hot on Merge’s trail. He wrote:
According to our sources, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland plans to seize the assets of payment processors who facilitated transactions between the Merge Network and its US customers. It is unclear exactly which payment processors are reportedly being targeted, whether indictments are planned in addition to seizures, or whether the DOJ intends to seize domain names as well.
The sad part about all of this is that people actually took the article and its unnamed source at face value, and rushed to make withdrawals. This is definitely bad news for a host of reasons, including the fact that Merge Gaming has already had a difficult time processing all of the new customers. The influx of withdrawals certainly aren’t going to help matters. Going further, other poker sites have started to question whether or not Subject Poker has a hidden agenda by writing this malicious article.
PokerNewsBoy writer Gerry Poltorak said that the anonymous source also contacted him on Skype after Poltorak bashed Subject Poker. Poltorak wrote the following about what the source said when pressed for information:
Finally, I even offered to retract my article if this guy could provide any proof at all who he is:
4:24:04 PM] Robert: its all sealed
[4:24:08 PM] Robert: i can’t
[4:24:14 PM] Gerry Poltorak: id be happy to look over the proof and retract my post backing noah up
[4:24:54 PM] Robert: i can’t send any docs
[4:24:58 PM] Robert: on merge
[4:24:59 PM] Robert: sorry
[4:25:05 PM] Robert: i gotta run for now
So…he can send this stuff to Noah, but not to me? It’s sealed, but Noah got them. Right.
Gambling911 was another doubter of this story’s legitimacy as they wrote:
SubjectPoker.com posted an article last week that was full of obvious agendas looking to take down either the Merge Poker Network or one of its main skins.
“We suspect the later,” said Costigan.
“It’s not so much the Merge Poker Network per se that is the target of this smear campaign, but one of its larger skins and we will leave it at that,” Costigan said.