U.S. Gov't: Refunds available for online poker players
The United States Attorney General's office in Manhattan reached an agreement with two online poker companies to help American customers get their money back.
Under the deal, FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com will have their domain names restored to facilitate the refunds of cash to customers in the United States.
The two companies, along with Absolute Poker, were charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, illegal gambling and money laundering last week.
Although a restraining order was issued against multiple bank accounts used by the poker companies, the government said it never prohibited refunds being given to clients.
Through the domain agreement, customers can register their requests for refunds directly with Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker.
U.S. Attorney General Preet Bharara said his office will work with the poker companies to "facilitate the return of funds to players."
Absolute Poker has not entered into such an agreement with the government, and a spokesperson for Bharara's office declined to comment if any such deal is pending.
In the complaint brought against the poker giants, Bharara charged the defendants with concocting "an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits."
The indictment accused the three poker companies of engaging in "massive money laundering and bank fraud" in their efforts to circumvent current gambling laws.
The maximum penalties for these charges range from five years in prison and a $250,000 fine to 30 years in prison and a $1-million fine or twice the gross profits.
Authorities from the FBI said that the sites "arranged for the money received from U.S. gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls."