Although several people believe that the US government is on some sort of campaign against US online poker, many have failed to realize that the US poker shutdown was not a case of anti-online gambling but rather one against the illegal operations carried out by the Big 3. When PokerStars was found to be involved in creating fake web portals to avoid bank detections for their online transactions and transacting with American financial institutions, it was pulled up by the FBI.
Fred Heather, a member of a reputed law firm, made a statement to this affect at the iGaming North America conference in Las Vegas where casino executives, government regulators and others were present regarding the closure of Big 3.
Heather said that the biggest indication regarding this not being a case of the US authorities against the poker sites is that the government is not resisting the return of money to the players.
Several of these people who are under indictment live in other countries and they will probably resist extradition since they face huge penalties in the US. Through several such related cases the prosecutors are seeking $3 billion in restitution.
Paul Hugel, who is a civil and criminal lawyer specializing in fraud, bank fraud and enterprise corruption claimed that the laundering and fraud charges boosted the case beyond the stages of running an illegal internet gambling business. This created a potential for 20 or 30 year prison sentences and that is much more than a sentence of 5 years for running an illegal internet casino. He also mentioned that these cases rarely go to trial since the defendants will be trying to work out a settlement.
Hugel also stated that bank frauds are unusual because there is no theft involved. A potential defense would only be able to show that the bank executives knew the kind of transactions they were processing, but this might be difficult to prove. In this scenario, Heather states that a potential strategy in the line of proving the same would be to question how millions of dollars were involved in selling golf balls.
Although the companies involved have not said much about the situation, the people of America are angry towards the DoJ regarding the shutdown.
The prosecutors who are handling the cases are efficient and knowledgeable and have a history of handling such complex cases in the past and being successful at them. It has been estimated that US authorities may just come up with more such prosecutions if they find any more Poker operators doing business in the same way.
Meanwhile, it would be interesting to consider whether the government is fine with the risk of angering scores of US poker enthusiasts.