A New York judge has informed the legal representatives of two men indicted in a case that led to the closure of three major online poker rooms in the US online poker market that their clients will have to face trial in March, next year.
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The judge Lewis Kaplan first heard arguments regarding whether poker is a game of chance or skill before informing the legal representatives of Chad Ellie and John Campos that their clients will have to face trial on March 12. Judge Kaplan said, “I think it is extraordinarily unlikely that the entire indictment will be dismissed.”
Kaplan stated that it will be “very interesting to see whether there are 12 potential jurors in New York in this environment who think that poker is not gambling or have no opinion on it.”
Elie and Campos are the only two of the total 12 men who were charged on counts of bank fraud, illegal gambling, and money laundering. Half of them have successfully evaded arrest and the others might get their cases resolved even before a trial.
Campos is a former employee of SunFirst Bank, based in St. George in Utah, which processed funds for offshore online poker sites such as Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. Both Elie and Campos state that they are not guilty.
The prosecutors are seeking $3 billion in confiscation of property and fines for money laundering activities after charging those involved in the US operations of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker.
According to the indictment against these companies, they stand guilty of violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) 2006, which makes it illegal for online gaming operators to accept bets.
Harlo Devlin-Brown, the assistant US attorney, said at the hearing that Congress is not interested in protecting companies that willingly process gambling funds although it intends to be lenient towards ISPs, banks, and cable companies involved in online gambling cases, provided they do not have a major role to play in the business.
Frederick Hafetz, Campos’s legal representative, argued that Elie and Campos cannot be prosecuted simply because the government exempts ISPs and cable companies and the two men was not involved in any online poker gaming operations in the US. Paul Clement, Elie’s lawyer, said that Congress never wanted to criminalize the act of betting on online poker games because senators and US representatives enjoy playing poker themselves.