If you visit popular online poker site DoylesRoom.com, you will see a graphic not unlike the ones we saw on Black Friday, when PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker were taken down by the federal government. The site has been seized, along with nine other sites including bookmaker.com, truepoker.com and beted.com, in accordance with indictments returned by a federal grand jury in Baltimore, MD.
Three people have also been indicted on charges of money laundering. Eleven bank accounts located in Charlotte, NC, Guam, Portugal and the Netherlands were also seized.
The indictments come from a long investigation of online gaming software company ThrillX and online payment processing company BMX Entertainment. The investigation involved the US Attorney in Maryland, the IRS and the Department of Homeland Security.
From the press release on the indictments:
“These indictments are the direct result of impressive undercover investigative work by our agents, along with the close collaboration of our law enforcement partners here in Maryland,” said William Winter, Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Baltimore. “The proceeds from illegal Internet gambling are often used to fuel organized crime and support criminal activity. ICE HSI will work diligently to uncover illicit transactions involving these types of financial crimes. Together, with our law enforcement partners, we will disrupt and dismantle organizations that commit these crimes, regardless of their location, whether here in the United States or abroad."
These indictments are unlikely to affect DoylesRoom's famous namesake, Doyle Brunson. Texas Dolly just recently parted ways with the site due to uncertainty in the online poker landscape following Black Friday. In a statement to Gambling911:
Reluctantly, I have decided to terminate my endorsement contract with Doylesroom.com. It pains me to leave at this time. I have aspirations of reentering the online poker business when the United States Government passes legislation, that officially legalize online poker sites. Doylesroom management has decided to continue to serve U.S. customers. Although they believe they have the right to market the name Doylesroom and to use my name and likeness for a period of time, I have asked them not to. Good luck-Shuffle up and deal.
Doyle isn't the first big name to cut ties with online poker since the initial crackdowns. Vegas Billionaire Steve Wynn nixed a burgeoning partnership with PokerStars just a few days after they were seized by the DOJ.
Poker players on Twitter commented on the DoylesRoom situation:
RT @TonyGuoga So Doyle must have got a tip off to jump Doylesroom, huge this news today & this my friends is curtains for online poker in US
(1) After Black Friday, the writing was on the wall, & @TexDolly's decision makes perfect sense in that context. He didn't need a "hot tip."
After the initial seizure of the big three sites, players' first concern was naturally the security of the money they had locked up in the sites. The U.S. attorney's office and the sites came to a domain agreement that allowed for the facilitation of the return of funds shortly after the crackdown. And since then, PokerStars was the first to slowly began to refund U.S. players, and Absolute Poker just announced that they would be doing the same.
But some are less concerned about that and more concerned about getting back into the fray. PokerStars, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt are still completely closed for business for real money play in the States, and these new seizures mark a disturbing trend that suggests we may see more and more sites go down.
But the tactic of domain name shifting seems to be working for some sites. As of right now, both DoylesRoom and True Poker are up and running and saying "business as usual" via .ag extensions. Although functioning, U.S. players might feel a little wary to deposit funds into a possibly sinking client, however.
One new client is announcing it's launch on May 31st. Rise Poker looks to fill the void by offering rake-free online poker for real money to U.S. players. They say that they will be totally legal.
“The market could not be better for a new, innovative rake-free site to fill the massive
void created by the recent U.S. departures of the largest offshore online gambling sites. We want to obliterate what the market thinks of a typical membership poker site,” says Steve “Chops” Preiss, RISE Poker Executive Vice President of Business Development to Bluff Magazine.
It's a new day in poker. RISE.
Although more domain seizures looks like really bad news for online poker in the U.S., there looks to be some hope on the legislative level. The State of Nevada approved an online poker bill on Tuesday, ensuring their right to license and regulate the game should the federal government legalize it.
But of course, we have to wait on lawmakers in Washington to make a move. And call me a pessimist, but I'm not holding my breath.