US Online Poker Needs A Suckout

Whether one plays Texas Hold’em in brick-and-mortar casinos or pot-limit omaha online, there was bad news to digest for the poker world over the weekend. The federal government seized the domain names of three FIVE of the biggest poker sites operating in America. PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker have also been named in indictments accusing executives of those sites in illegal gambling, money laundering and bank fraud.

In addition to the indictments and domain seizures, Friday’s federal actions were accompanied by a civil lawsuit seeking the forfeiture of $3 billion in ill-gotten gains from the money laundering – 1.5 billion from the PokerStars; $1 billion from the Full Tilt Poker; and $500 million from the Absolute Poker.

Although there have been renewed efforts recently to legalize online gaming, it remains illegal in the U.S., one of the few countries where that remains the law. Some challenge the idea that poker is really gambling, arguing it’s a game of skill not chance. –ReadWriteWeb.

The effect of the seizures on the game itself remains to be seen. Last year’s World Series Of Poker Main Event entries–a crude but often-watched barometer of the health of poker today–were the second-most attended tournament ever (and they eventually turned people away). That 7,319 figure will almost certainly drop now, as many of those participants come from satellite games put together by players pooling their money to allow the winner to pay that $10,000 entry fee.

This is sad for anyone that loves playing cards and the camaraderie that comes with that. Many of you will remember that I covered the WSOP’s Main Event in Vegas last year, and the pros that I met there were as down-to-earth and as friendly as anyone a sportswriter could hope to cover. They’re going to be hurt by this, all in the name of “money laundering.” It’s hard to express my disappointment here, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that things usually become more badass with each crackdown from the government. So there’s that.

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