Friday, June 12, 2009

Government declares war on online poker players

If you play online poker you might have a bit of a problem withdrawing your winnings thanks to los federales. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has ordered three banks (Citibank, Wells Fargo, Goldwater Bank and Alliance Bank of Arizona) to freeze the accounts of payment processors who handle the winnings for online players.

Los federales informed Alliance Bank that accounts held by Allied Systems, Inc. (a payment processor) were being seized on the grounds that the accounts served to launder online poker winnings and that exigent circumstances existed that justified the warrantless seizure.

David, an online player from Maryland, won his way into the World Series of Poker Main Event by winning an online poker tournament. But, when he tried to cash the check he received, it bounced.
"It's not like the government went after money that the site made, instead they seized money that belonged to me," David said. "There is no law that restricts citizens from recovering money."
The government's action has affected some 27,000 online poker players.

Current federal law makes it illegal for the operators of online gambling sites to accept money from bettors -- but it is not illegal for an individual to place a bet online.

The funds seized by los federales belonged to the individuals who placed the bets, not to the online gambling sites or to the payment processors for those sites. The money seized by los federales was not the result of any illegal activity on the part of the recipient of those funds.

The acts of los federales amount to an illegal search and seizure affecting some 27,000 Americans who did not break the law. The players themselves broke no law in sitting down to play online poker.

What we have is the federal government enacting legislation that it cannot enforce against entities that are not citizens (whether they be individuals or corporations). And so, just as the Chinese government represses its own citizens because it can't control what people outside China say or do, the U.S. government reaches out and steals money from our fellow citizens.

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