Feds Seize Poker Websites; Founders Indicted

from the guilty-until-proven-innocent dept

It appears that the federal government has really fallen in love with its new found ability to simply seize whatever websites they don't like. The latest is that the FBI (not DHS this time) has seized the three largest online poker websites, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, and indicted the founders of those sites. Some have already been arrested with warrants out for the others. Because, you know, poker is destroying society or something. While at least this time it actually commenced legal actions in association with the seizures, the more the government does this, the more it's going to make sure this new favorite tool (domain seizures) gets shot down by the courts.

First of all, whether or not those sites are illegal is something of an open question. Back in 2006, as part of a bill to protect our ports and harbors (I'm not kidding), Congress passed a "ban" on online gambling. But it's been a pretty open question as to whether or not poker sites really applied. There are questions as to whether or not poker is a game of skill or chance, with at least one court saying that it was the former, and thus not necessarily "gambling."

On top of that, some in Congress have been working hard for a while to clarify that online poker is legal.

Even if you accept the idea that these sites are breaking the law -- which is a big open question -- is it really okay to simply seize the domains prior to an adversarial hearing? File charges, bring it to court, and have the government ask for an injunction, allowing the site operators to state the basics of their case. Seizing the domains seems like a massive government overreach (yet again).

Of course, the interesting thing to me is that this may get a lot more people interested in the federal government's new love of seizing domain names prior to any real due process. Perhaps not that many people are all that concerned when the issue was the "boring" question of copyright, but an awful lot of people play online poker, and they are unlikely to appreciate the seizures...

Filed Under: domain seizures, fbi, online poker, poker
Companies: absolute poker, full tilt poker, pokerstars


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  1. identicon
    Glen Pearson, 17 Apr 2011 @ 1:10am

    land of the free?

    Poker is not gambling.If poker is gambling then so is online stock trading or trading in general.Why do the same people keep ending up at final tables,time and time again?What are they the luckiest people in the world?NO!In the game of poker you measure the equity involved in any given situation based on all of the available information you have at your disposal and act accordingly.Just as investments in the stock market do not always yield the returns expected or not at all in many cases, poker to has this trait.Now, you may say, what about the people who do not know how to play and are blowing their money gambling.Well to you I say, ANYONE who invest in anything in life without calculating the risk to reward ratio properly and accounting for all the variables at their disposal is GAMBLING.In that sense poker is gambling and so is everything else you do.What about children who dream of becoming pro football players?Should we tell them that they are not aloud to gamble with their physical well being or for that matter what about the cost of playing football that is spent and more times then not wasted because of an injury down the line or lack of discipline and fading interest.Adults should be able to measure risk by themselves and they do not need the help of the government.Now if you are talking about slot machines then yes I agree get rid of them as they are BUILT to make the player lose or how about state lotteries?Poker is a game of 100% skill.If you invest in the correct situation you WILL make money playing against weaker opponents.This is no different than any other sport!I did not see any of you stepping in to save Buster Douglas from Mike Tyson when the odds were 50 to 1.NO!You didn't because you believed it was the mans right to wager his body against the will of another man.I hope this has opened the eyes of some.Thank you for taking the time to read this, regardless of what your opinion is.Remember it is your duty to protect the freedoms of others as one day your number may be called and will I be there to stand for you if you will not for me?

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