The FBI shut down the three biggest online poker sites, just as another is set to be opened up — by officials in Washington, D.C. Residents and visitors to the nation’s capital would be allowed to gamble on the Web, under a proposal in the District of Columbia’s budget, according to the Hot Air
website. Congress had until April 7 to object but took no action.
“There was really no clear law that said we could not do this,” said D.C. Councilman Michael Brown, the provision’s author. Brown wants money raised from gambling to offset budget cuts and help social service programs.
But just a week after the D.C. program was approved, the FBI closed down three sites, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker, charging 11 executives with bank fraud and money laundering, and hoping to recover $3 billion. The sites were all based abroad but aimed at U.S. gamblers.
The sites now have a message explaining that the FBI has seized the domain names. “Conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing or owning all of part of an illegal gambling business is a federal crime,” the message says.
According to a report in The Hill
, Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for Southern New York, said the shuttered sites constituted “an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits."
He added: “Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don't like simply because they can't bear to be parted from their profits."
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