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Ian Scheinberg, PokerStars founder surrenders to DOJ

Ian Scheinberg, the 73-year-old founder of PokerStars, surrendered to US Department of Justice officials on Friday. His entry into the US legal system marks what could be the final chapter in the long, winding story of Black Friday and the collapse of the online poker boom that forever altered the shape of online gambling in the United States and across the world.

Scheinberg was indicted by US authorities back in 2011 as part of their crackdown on the semi-legal world of online poker in a move that has since come to be known as “Black Friday”. Eleven executives and employees of online poker companies faced charges as a result of Black Friday, and Scheinberg is the last of those folks to stand before a US judge.

But Scheinberg and PokerStars were a very different animal from the wild west cast of characters that populated other online poker shops, such as Full Tilt Poker. PokerStars was always run as a regular business by Scheinberg and his family; who all worked on the premise that their operations were legal. (And they had plenty of legal advice to back up that claim.)

In the aftermath of Black Friday, Scheinberg and PokerStars stepped up and purchased their former rival Full Tilt Poker for several hundred million dollars from the US DOJ. That money was then used to repay players whose accounts were frozen or lost in the Black Friday collapse.

Scheinberg had successfully stayed ahead of US authorities until they caught him in Switzerland and filed an extradition order. After initially fighting extradition, Scheinberg agreed to surrender to the DOJ in New York and arrived there on Friday. Once he appeared before a judge, Scheinberg posted a $1 million bond and was released. He’s expected to enter into a plea bargain and it seems unlikely that he will face jail time of any kind.