Feds not Bluffing with Online Poker Shutdown

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Back in April, the online gambling community was shocked when a couple of their favorite sites were shut down by the Department of Justice. Now, the Feds have added new charges to the mix. Along with existing charges of evading the federal online gaming laws, they are accusing the principals at Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker of embezzling player funds.

The charges stem from an investigation of the California based websites that cater to online poker players. Gambling over the Internet is illegal in the US, but these sites flouted the law for years. The amended complaint includes the text: “[the accused] defrauded its poker players by misrepresenting to players that funds deposited into their online player accounts were secure and segregated from operating funds, while at the same time using player funds to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to Full Tilt Poker owners. Full Tilt Poker was able to accomplish this massive fraud, in part, because it illegally conducted business in the United States but maintained its personnel, operations, assets, and accounts principally overseas.

While miffed at the illegal and unethical practices, gamblers still wonder when they will be able to find online poker again. Some of the reasons quoted are: “Speed of games and the ability to play in multiple games. Online games are roughly twice as fast as live games, and online, you can play in multiple games at once. If you play a winning game, this allows you to make the same amount of money per hour online playing much lower stakes than you would have to play in a live game.” And, “Online games require a much smaller time commitment. It's a bit difficult to organize a live game just to play for half an hour before heading to work.”

These and other reasons (ease of money movement) make online gambling a much different experience for gamblers. While some eschew the lack of associated bells and whistles, other problem gamblers find the convenience too tempting to resist. While offline casinos often have programs designed to spot and offer help to problem gamblers, online sites do not. You can play any time you like and the “casino” is as close as a home computer.

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