In news that will likely affect poker affiliate marketers in the United States, the domains of three of the largest online poker rooms accepting U.S. players have been seized by the FBI.
As of the morning of Friday, April 15, PokerStars.com, FullTiltPoker.com, and CEREUS poker rooms UB.com and Absolute Poker are now restricted, their domains seized by the governments and U.S. visitors (and some other countries’ residents) not allowed to access the sites.
The FBI, under the umbrella of the United States Department of Justice, is responsible for the action. U.S. visitors trying to access these poker sites now see only a message from authorities with a brief explanation of the new situation:
“This domain name has been seized by the F.B.I. pursuant to an Arrest Warrant in Rem obtained by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York,” the message reads.
“Conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing, or owning all or part of an illegal gambling business is a federal crime.
“For persons engaged in the business of betting or wagering, it is also a federal crime to knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling, credit, electronic fund transfers, or checks.
“Properties, including domain names, used in violation of the provisions … or involved in money laundering transactions are subject to forfeiture to the United States.”
A news announcement has also been released regarding the seizures. Per the news release, eleven defendants were charged, including the large Internet poker companies listed above. These companies have been charged with “bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses,” the report states.
U.S. authorities are also filing a civil money laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint against the companies, “their assets, and the assets of several payment processors” that the companies use.
“In addition, restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts … and their payment processors, and five Internet domain names,” the news release continues.
The big picture
The gambling and gaming affiliate industry has been caught off guard by the FBI’s move, particularly since the U.S. has been making notable progress in recent weeks towards regulating online gambling.
Some residents of other countries, like Canada and the UK, have also reported seeing the confiscation warnings for the online poker sites, but it’s not known yet whether that’s part of the domain name seizure or accidental overlap. And many people in the United States are still able to access the sites; it’s expected that some days will pass before all domain name registrars are able to comply with the FBI’s actions.
This news originally posted on our sister site, Casino Affiliate Programs.