The FBI recently seized three of the largest online poker gaming websites and indicted 11 founder-operators of these online poker rooms and gamblers, following which it now plans to file requests for extradition. Those proved guilty face a sentence of as many as 30 years in prison. The confiscation of online poker domains happened last Friday, plunging the US online poker gaming world in gloom. Three of these defendants are Israelis and some are die-hard gamblers, whose property has been confiscated by the FBI.

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The root of this turn of affairs lies in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which makes it illegal for banks and other financial institutions to process funds related to online gambling. However, the UIGEA 2006 does not make it illegal for US poker fans to play poker online. The UIGEA made several online gambling providers leave the US and set up business elsewhere; however, websites such as Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker stayed in the US and raked in billions of dollars in profit every year. Ultimately, the FBI felt that the founder-operators of these sites used illegal ways to help US poker players move funds from online gaming accounts to checking accounts.

The 11 people indicted by the US authorities are either operators of the above-mentioned websites or heavy gamblers who have extradition requests on them. Scott Tom, one of the founder-operators of Absolute Poker, is associated with the super user scandal and is still involved in the operations of Absolute Poker although official statements have been passed in the past that he has nothing to do with Absolute Poker anymore.

According to a recent press release, Elie and Campos were arrested at Las Vegas in Nevada and at St George in Utah, respectively. Elie and Campos appeared in a magistrate court at Nevada and Utah, respectively, on April 18. Franzen’s arraignment was scheduled for April 19 in New York. Bitar, Burtnick, Scheinberg, Tom, Tate, Rubin, Beckley, and Lang, who are currently not in the US, are yet to be arrested. The US Attorney Office of New York’s southern district is collaborating with offshore law enforcement bodies and the Interpol to get these defendants arrested and to seize all illegally obtained funds in other countries. Tom, Beckley, Bitar, Elie, Campos, and Franzen are all citizens of America.

The closing down of these online poker rooms in America does not affect any non US player.

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