Black Friday, the day on which the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted the chief executives of PokerStars, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt Poker, accusing them of a wide range of crimes, including bank fraud and money laundering, plunged the US poker gaming community in gloom.
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To say that the US poker gaming community is shocked would be an understatement. They are wondering about their future and mourning the loss of online poker income. Over a dozen threads on Two Plus Two talk about the indictment alone, attracting over 1.3 million visitors.
The last biggest blow to the US online gaming industry was the passage of the infamous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006. While this bill does not make online gambling illegal, it criminalizes all the financial activities related to online gambling. The first online poker provider to leave the US market because of the UIGEA was Party Poker.
Meanwhile, the DOJ arrested the chief executives of Neteller Plc, a web wallet that facilitated the movement of large volumes of cash from poker accounts to bank accounts, in 2007. The UIGEA scared a number of players, especially the fish, from the online poker tables, making the game tougher and more competitive.
Although Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars stayed back in the US market, they began finding it exceedingly difficult to find honest payment processors to move funds from players’ gaming accounts to their checking accounts. Although some intermediary payment processing companies disappeared with players’ funds, the online poker sites always ensured that players never lost their money. The DOJ alleges that some of the methods used by Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars were illegal, coming under the category of money laundering and bank fraud.
US poker players now have millions of dollars in their Full Tilt, Absolute, and PokerStars accounts. On Wednesday, the DOJ announced that it will permit Full Tilt and PokerStars to allow players to withdraw their money if they stop offering real money games to US players. However, players can expect trouble from Absolute Poker, which has made no such agreement with the DOJ.
US poker players can still play poker at a number of other online poker rooms that still accept US players. Black Friday will mean fewer poker TV shows and lower World Series of Poker (WSOP) attendance; simultaneously, it could inspire the poker gaming community to press for laws to regulate and legalize the US online poker industry.

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