Affiliates and online poker players who are tired of television courtroom shows don’t have to look far to get their fill of drama. Since Black Friday, daily developments have shaped the back and forth battle between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and major online poker companies. Here’s a roundup of some the latest developments in this ongoing story.
DOJ Call Poker ‘Game of Chance’
The biggest development in the Black Friday case came on Friday when DOJ attorneys tipped their hand and revealed that they would be categorizing online poker as a “game of chance.” Online poker lobbying groups have made the distinction between games of chance and games of skill the centerpiece of the legalization movement.
But in a 51-page rebuttal to a defense motion to dismiss all charges against banker John Campos, DOJ attorneys said that poker had always been gambling, pure and simple. To back up their argument, prosecutors pointed to Old West legends like Doc Holiday, and the Kenny Rogers country music classic, The Gambler.
Mathematicians who have analyzed billions of hands of poker from sites like Full Tilt Poker are being utilized by online poker trade groups to back up the skill argument.
Black Friday Bank Shuts Down
The bank at the heart of the online poker meltdown is now in the hands of banking regulators. Utah’s SunFirst bank was named in the Black Friday as the institution that processed illegal gaming transactions for a cut of the profits. Campos was the Vice Chairman of SunFirst when the indictments came down.
But SunFirst had been in hot water long before the DOJ became interested in online poker. Back in 2008, the financial institution came under scrutiny from regulators for aggressively lending to developers who defaulted in suspiciously high numbers. Many insiders believe SunFirst entered into the online poker world in hopes of recouping the losses from those bad loans.
Full Tilt Insiders May Have Had Advance Warning
Some Full Tilt insiders may have had a heads up that the site was going to go under, according an interview with UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer in PokerNews.com.
In the interview, Buffer claims that he, and other insiders, were told by company officials not to keep large amounts of money in their Full Tilt accounts months before the site shut down. Though he did move most of his money out of his account, Buffer kept some money there because of his high profile association with Full Tilt.
Buffer is not named in the Black Friday indictment and has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the case.
Will the DOJ’s Black Friday case hold water? Or will it all fall apart? Let us know your opinion in our Online Gambling Laws & Regulation forum.