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 Important news for U.S. Players

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PostSubject: Important news for U.S. Players   Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:21 pm

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Federal prosecutors have agreed to let PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, two of the three online gambling companies targeted in a federal crackdown, to use their domain names to facilitate U.S. players' withdrawal of funds in accounts.

Eleven people, including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker, were charged Friday with bank fraud, money laundering and online gambling offenses, in the U.S.'s latest effort to crack down on online gambling.

Authorities filed restraining orders against 76 bank accounts allegedly associated with the poker companies as part of a separate civil forfeiture action. They are seeking at least $3 billion in civil money-laundering penalties and forfeiture.

Prosecutors seized five Internet domain names used by the companies last week: pokerstars.com, fulltiltpoker.com, absolutepoker.com, ultimatebet.com and ub.com. As of late Wednesday morning, all the websites featured a warning that the "domain name has been seized by the F.B.I," as well as citations of federal gambling and money-laundering laws.

But the U.S. Attorney's office of the Southern District of New York said in a statement Wednesday its agreements allow for the pokerstars.com and fulltiltpoker.com domain names to be used to help U.S. players withdraw funds. The arrangements prohibit the deposit of funds by U.S. players and require the appointment of an independent monitor to verify the companies' compliance.

The government said Absolute Poker has the option to enter the same agreement.

"Returning U.S. players' funds is a top priority for PokerStars and the company can now start the process," PokerStars said in a statement. It said all players' deposits are "completely safe," as licensing laws in the Isle of Man, where it is based, require funds to be held in accounts that are segregated from the company's assets.

PokerStars said it "categorically denies" the Justice Department's allegations and "is taking all steps necessary to robustly defend itself, and the two named individuals."

Barry Boss, counsel for Full Tilt poker, declined to comment. Contact information for Absolute Poker couldn't immediately be located Wednesday.

-By Matt Jarzemsky, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240; matthew.jarzemsky@dowjones.com
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