Posts Tagged ‘US government’

Popular Online Poker Currency Bitcoin watched by US Govt.

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Bitcoin (a.k.a. bitcoins) has become a very popular currency in the online poker world. Bitcoin isn’t backed by a central bank or country, and it can be sent across the internet anonymously through “wallets.” This allows poker players to easily make deposits and withdrawals from poker rooms without worrying about huge delays and hassles.

Unfortunately, it looks like the ease of use aspect could be gone because the US government has been focusing on bitcoins. Furthermore, the American government has applied money laundering laws to virtual currency in a move designed to target Bitcoin.

The Wall Street Journal discussed the money laundering laws by writing, “online cash will now be regulated in a similar manner as traditional money-order providers such as Western Union. They would have new bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000.”

At first, this may seem like another selfish move by the US government to hurt the online poker industry since they’re not drawing tax revenue from it. However, applying money laundering laws to Bitcoin and other virtual currencies is more about eliminating drug-based crimes. The WSJ discussed both the legal and illegal side of bitcoins with the following:

Bitcoins can be used in a host of legitimate transactions—for example, website Reddit allows users to upgrade services using bitcoins and blog service’s store accepts them as a form of payment. also lets bitcoin savers pay for deliveries through Domino’s and other pizzerias.

On the other hand, at least one online service takes bitcoins as payment for illegal drugs, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation report last year. Bitcoin’s backers point out that criminals will use any currency for money laundering or illegal purchases.

After the new stipulations placed on virtual currencies, the value of bitcoins has already fallen from $60 a unit to $49. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the currency will suddenly become obsolete. However, its use among US online poker players may drop significantly. Seeing as how many US-friendly poker sites are relegated to paper checks, which can take weeks to process/send, this definitely isn’t good for the game.

US Government causes Panic with PokerStars and Full Tilt Shutdown

Friday, April 15th, 2011

US online poker players were shocked when they went to log onto several of the most popular sites. Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, UB Poker and Absolute Poker were all inaccessible to players, and they were greeted with a message that read, “This domain name has been seized by the FBI pursuant to an arrest warrant in rem obtained by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York… Conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing, or owning all or part of an illegal gambling business is a Federal crime.”

Unfortunately, the message still remains on Absolute Poker, and UB Poker shows a blank screen when American players try to access it. However, the US released the Stars and Full Tilt websites so that Americans can keep playing here. Even still, this major scare, which is more than just a scare for UB and Absolute members, just goes to show that the war between online poker and the US is not over yet.

Most sources believe that former IntaBill owner Daniel Tzvetkoff is the pied piper leading US authorities down a trail of supposed money laundering and bank fraud charges aimed at the major poker sites. As you may have guessed, this is an obvious move by Tzvetkoff to save his own skin considering that he’s being charged with about a million crimes for helping online gambling sites.

Hopefully the Poker Players Alliance can help in some respects since their lobbying efforts have at least gotten federal lawmakers to consider legalizing online poker. They released the following statement regarding this incident, “On behalf of the millions of poker players across the country, we are shocked at the action taken by the U.S. Department of Justice today against online poker companies and will continue to fight for Americans’ right to participate in the game they enjoy. Online poker is not a crime and should not be treated as such. We are currently gathering all of the information around today’s announcement and will offer detailed analysis when the full facts become available.”