Feds Freeze Online Poker Accounts

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

The feds may not be able to arrest people for gambling online (technically, it isn’t illegal), but it looks like they plan to make life pretty difficult for them. From the Wall Street Journal:

In an apparent crackdown on Internet gambling, federal authorities in New York have frozen or seized bank accounts worth $34 million belonging to 27,000 online poker players, according to representatives for the players and account holders.

In an operation that began last week, the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York froze or issued seizure orders for bank accounts in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Arizona held at Wells Fargo, Citibank, Goldwater Bank and Alliance Bank of Arizona.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office had no comment.

The accounts are managed by Allied Systems Inc., and Account Services, which handle cash for popular online poker sites, including Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker. Though the money belongs to the poker players, it is held for them in accounts managed by the two service companies.

Account Services, which had an account worth $15 million frozen in its San Francisco bank, doesn’t accept deposits, but writes checks to players who are cashing out, said lawyer for the company, Jeff Ifrah. As a result, thousands of players receiving checks from the company won’t be able to cash them, he said.

In the last week, the major poker sites have also shut down some of the main mechanisms for U.S. players to make deposits.

(Via Sallie James)

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20 Responses to “Feds Freeze Online Poker Accounts”

  1. #1 |  Mattocracy | 

    Prime example of why the FED’s aren’t smart enough to manage dick. Instead of allowing the gambling and taxing the earnings, (seeing as how they have this huge shortfall in tax revenue they’ll spend untold amounts of money prosecuting people for a vistimless crime. That’ll get us back in the black.

    Thanks for listening choir.

  2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Have I ever mentioned my opinion that any law that penalizes someone for an act that does not measurably injure another identifiable person against their will is simply persecution?

    No? Well, I thought it might be time to clarify exactly why I use the word persecution so often.

    Most people think persecution is something that used to happen long ago in uncivilized places. I think it’s all around us. But then, I’m an irrational paranoid conspiracy freak.

  3. #3 |  av | 

    I’m glad the authorities have time to handle the dangers of online Poker.

    That must mean that they have hardened the federal computer systems against Chinese and Russian cyber attack, broken the back of online identity theft, suppressed terrorist networking, and exterminated online kiddie pron….. Right?

  4. #4 |  Thomas Paine's Goiter | 

    It’s an illegal seizure. It’s not illegal to get money from sites, by any law, even the wire act. It’s only illegal to accept money for the purposes of gambling.

    Is the DA in southern New York a leftover from the Bush admin?

  5. #5 |  Zargon | 

    It’s not stealing… it’s just 100% taxation.

  6. #6 |  MDGuy | 

    Whenever I hear about laws against “vice” crimes the usual explanation/justification for their existence is that the “vice” activity in question breeds crime around it – in the case of poker, we’re usually told that it causes murder, racketeering, loan sharking and the associated knee-cappings, etc. ad nauseum…so I’m kind of left wondering what the rationale is for banning online poker games, when none of these side effects are created by some guy playing online in his basement. I suppose I shouldn’t wonder…when they create new legislation to close the loop-hole created by the “games of chance” vs. “game of skill” ambiguity, I’m sure it will be rationalized somehow, probably as more nanny-statery, with Congressmen telling us how we’re too stupid to manage our own money and that we can’t be trusted to play poker because we’ll all turn into gambling addicts.

  7. #7 |  Marty | 

    looks like the asset forfeiture programs are expanding…

  8. #8 |  J sub D | 

    <Is the DA in southern New York a leftover from the Bush admin?

    Does it matter? The Attorney General (y’know, the friggin’ boss?) was confirmed more than four months ago. Passing the buck to the Bush administration would be awfully disingenuous.

  9. #9 |  Aresen | 

    #8 | J sub D | June 10th, 2009 at 3:10 pm
    Passing the buck to the Bush administration would be awfully disingenuous.

    Uh, have you noticed how many Bushies are still trying to blame Clinton for Bush Jr’s screwups?

  10. #10 |  J sub D | 

    Uh, have you noticed how many Bushies are still trying to blame Clinton for Bush Jr’s screwups?

    I don’t buy that responsibility dodging bullshit then either.

    I know, I know. Every politician and true blue (or red) party member does the same thing. It gets really tiresome.

  11. #11 |  Aresen | 

    J sub D

    Exactly, everything bad is the fault of the opposition/previous administration.

    And complementarily, if the sun comes up in the morning, a politician will claim credit for it.

  12. #12 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “The feds may not be able to arrest people for gambling online (technically, it isn’t illegal), but it looks like they plan to make life pretty difficult for them.”

    That wacky State! It never loses!

  13. #13 |  Sarah | 

    I don’t get how they can justify this at all. Even with the new UIGEA laws, it’s not illegal to play and not illegal to receive your winnings from an online poker site. The only thing it prohibited was financial transactions from certain institutions to the gambling companies.

    So dumb. So dumb. So dumb.

    I don’t get why it seems like common sense to me to let people do what they want in their own home – especially a SKILL game like poker – and just tax it, and why others just don’t seem to get it.

  14. #14 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » Feds Freeze Online Poker Accounts | All About The World | 

    [...] post: The Agitator » Blog Archive » Feds Freeze Online Poker Accounts Hit & Run > Feds Freeze Online Poker Accounts – Reason MagazineUS DoJ Targets Poker-site [...]

  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #13 | Sarah
    I don’t get why it seems like common sense to me to let people do what they want in their own home – especially a SKILL game like poker – and just tax it, and why others just don’t seem to get it

    Oops. A booboo.

    There. I fixed it.

  16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Well, crap! I meant to strike out the “and tax it” part of Sarah’s comment.

    Doesn’t the “s” (strikeout) tag work here?

  17. #17 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    The ironic part is that The State’s argument for needing to ban poker is that the players would be victimized by losing all of their money.

  18. #18 |  Sarah | 

    Dave – Not a booboo – if they regulate it they’re going to tax the poker sites. They’re not going to allow the gaming just out of the goodness of their hearts. It’ll help the economy, and that’s probably the only reasoning that will really work to get it all above board and legal right now.

    I’ll point out though – if you’re making money playing poker, you’re supposed to be declaring it for taxes anyway. But we’ll just keep that between us.

  19. #19 |  HorsesAss.Org » Blog Archive » Open Thread | 

    [...] – The Feds have frozen or seized the bank accounts of 27,000 online poker players. [...]

  20. #20 |  Nobody | 

    They don’t want people to lose their own money because there will be less for them to take. The government wants to control every aspect of ones life and it’s only getting bigger under the Obama administration. For those of us who work are asses off for nothing because the government taxes us on everything they can – the extra poker winnings keeps our heads above water. There is truly no legitimate reason to ban online poker in the United States.

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