The FBI has shut down the sites of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. Until now, it seems only the .com variants of those sites have been seized. Moreover several bank accounts were frozen (65 accounts in 14 different countries) and 11 people, including the owners of those sites, were indicted for fraud, the provision of illegal gambling and money laundering.

The sites were taken offline because since 2006 online gambling isn’t allowed anymore in the USA. However the poker sites came up with a solution for this problem. They moved their headquarters to the Isle of Men, an autonomic British island. The American government reacted to this action by forbidding American banks and credit card companies to process payments which had anything to do with online gambling. The poker sites then set up a whole network of payment processors. The transactions of the gamblers were hidden as payments to non existing foreign stores.

However, at the end of 2009, this fraud was discovered. The poker sites then contacted small American banks which were having difficulties to survive because of the American crisis. In return for investments these banks processed the payments of the poker sites. However this ended since Friday. The site were taken offline and the accounts were frozen.

If you surf to one of the .com versions of those websites now, you’ll get to see a FBI message telling you that cooperating to illegal gambling is a federal crime which can be punished with imprisonment up to 5 years and fines up to $250.000.

Meanwhile, the customers of those poker sites are panicking. Many of them decided to collect the money on their accounts as soon as possible once they heard those site were shut down. This has now become impossible since the accounts of those sites have been frozen. Many people still have several thousands of dollars on their account with those sites. Question is when and how much they’ll ever see again.

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