More Indictments, Growing Desperation – Merge to Come Next?

Poker Legislation | estimated reading time
2011. May 24.
Additional online gambling sites were seized by US officials on Monday, May 23. Although this time <em>Merge</em>, <em>Bodog</em> and <em>Cake Poker</em> were not involved, US players started to withdraw their money from these rooms and networks as well.
As you all know, the domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and AP/UB were seized by the FBI on April 15 as these had illegally been accepting US players. The rooms consequently banned Americans form their real money tables and froze their accounts; only PokerStars has started cash outs yet.

Smaller rooms strived to profit from the situation by remaining to offer real money play for US-based players, but it was perceived their accounts would come next soon. Finally, more than a month after the Black Friday of online poker, other indictments took place; the following domain names have been seized: Bookmaker.com, Truepoker.com, Funtimebingo.com, Goldenarchcasino.com, Betmaker.com, Betgrandesports.com, Doylesroom.com, Betehorse.com, Beted.com and 2Betsdi.com. Three people have been charged by Maryland with violating the UIGEA and money laundering.

Baltimore Sun reports that investigation began already in 2009 when Linwood Payment Solutions was launched to conduct transactions and so to bust illegal activities. Over 300,000 payments have been made in the past two years for online poker rooms via the site, with a total worth of $33 million. All of the rooms involved in the indictments of Monday have had contracts with Linwood Payment Solutions; even Cereus network used it to conduct illegal transactions.

"It is illegal for Internet gambling enterprises to do business in Maryland, regardless of where the website operator is located. We cannot allow foreign website operators to flout the law simply because their headquarters are based outside the country," Maryland US Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated.

Since this most recent action involved DoylesRoom as well, many believe that the sites may have seen it coming and this is the true reason for Doyle Brunson leaving the site bearing his own name barely a week ago. This is supported by the fact that Bookmaker and TruePoker remained functional with an .ag domain extension, most likely bought before Monday.

Currently, this message is awaiting players at DoylesRoom.com:

DoylesRoom Seizure

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that US players now fear further indictments, involving especially Merge, Bodog and Cake Poker so they started withdrawing their money from these sites. Merge, the current leader of the US market, has experienced a 79% growth in traffic since Black Friday, obviously due to the seizure of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and AP/UB domains. It seems, however, that their prosperity will not last long...

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