Will U.S. Online Poker Players Get Their Money Back?

Entertainment Editor

Web-Related Legal News

As you may have heard, the F.B.I. seized the websites of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker and froze their bank accounts.  The site owners face charges of money laundering for allegedly using fraudulent means to accept payments from U.S. players despite the ban which went into effect in 2006.  The government is now temporarily returning the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker domain names so U.S. players can easily withdraw their funds.  The two sites agreed not to let any IP addresses in the U.S. do any gambling or deposit any money.  U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says the same deal is open to Absolute Poker.

In a first for court rooms in America, a judge has forbid a debt collection agency from contacting a woman or her family and friends via Facebook.  Melanie Beacham of Florida fell behind on her car payments.  MarkOne Financial then called her house as often as 23 times a day before finding her Facebook profile, at which point they began sending messages about her debt to her, relatives of hers, and all her Facebook friends.  It’s illegal for a debt collector to reveal private financial information to a debtor’s friends and relatives, so for obvious reasons the judge ruled in Beacham’s favor.  Next up: figuring out how to ban annoying former classmates and ex-boyfriends from sending more than one unwanted friend request.

Web-Related Financial News

Earlier this year a hedge fund launched which buys and sells stocks based on a “sentiment analysis” of Twitter posts.  Now Hideki Furusho and Yutaka Matsuo are seeking 5 billion yen ($61 million) in funding for their hedge fund which performs a similar analysis of blog posts.  Their software analyzes about 20 million Japanese blogs for keywords related to Nikkei 225 futures, decides to buy, sell, or sit out for the day based on those keywords, and cashes out every night.  When backtesting the software, they found it would have theoretically returned 46.8% from November 2006 to July 2010, and so, in August of 2010, they launched the fund with $366K funding.  Between August ’10 and April 11th, 2011, the fund has returned 7.5% compared to the Nikkei 225’s average 1.9% return over the same time period.  Meaning they probably won’t have trouble finding investors to expand their hedge fund into a multi-million dollar investment.  And now we’re done blogging about a blog post about software that analyzes blogs.


  • The government says online poker players’ money isn’t lost yet. (ArsTechnica)
  • Judge tells debt collector to stop contacting debtor, her friends, and family on Facebook. (Mashable)
  • Hedge fund will analyze blogs to judge how well the Nikkei 225 will perform. (SAI)



  • Some Amazon sellers use a program to automatically reprice their books based on the prices set by another seller.  Sounds good in theory, except when two sellers peg their prices to each other, leading to a developmental biology book being eventually priced at $23,698,655.93.  It would be a great deal if it weren’t for the $3.99 shipping cost. (MichaelEisen)
  • The 20-year-old son of Ivan Kaspersky, anti-virus software founder and one of the richest men in Russia, went missing last week and was rumored to be held for a 3 million euro (US $4.5 million) ransom.  Now CNET reports Ivan Kaspersky has been freed without a ransom paid, and the police have five suspects in custody.
  • Apple is rumored to have finished working on an online music storage service with plans to launch it before Google can complete their own cloud storage for music files.  No word yet on whether Apple’s service will keep a secret log of which songs you listen to and where exactly you were located when you listened to them.  For now your love of Lionel Richie is our little secret. (Reuters)



  • Apple might have reason to worry about damages to their image in light of the news that the iPhone keeps a secret log of the phone’s geographic location at all times.  Among mobile phone subscribers who have downloaded at least one app in the past month, a slight majority (59% of women and 52% of men) expressed concern over their privacy in regards to their phone sharing their location. (Nielsen, picture via joyoftech)
  • 44% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 have a cellphone instead of a landline.  Other demographic groups who have been replacing landlines with cellphones are renters (47% compared to only 15% of homeowners) and low-income adults (40% compared to only 21% of higher income adults). (NYTimes)
  • Here is an infographic on some of the new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary, including de-friend, chillax, frenemy, and vuvuzela. None of these were the words I used when I heard about iPhones tracking locations, but the Oxford English Dictionary staff never reads my suggestion letters, the YooHoo-guzzling cheetahmongers.


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