Absolute Poker — formed by four frat brothers at the University of Montana — wasn't liquid enough to continue either. None of its players has been reimbursed.

In December, Absolute Poker cofounder Brent Beckley pleaded guilty to lying to banks about the nature of his transactions. He's expected to receive 12 to 18 months in jail. His accomplice, Ira Rubin, ran a payment-processing company in Costa Rica that disguised gambling proceeds through fake merchants and suppliers. He pleaded guilty in January and is expected to receive up to two years in prison.

Rumors have been circulating that Absolute Poker will repay players soon, though payouts may be as little as 25 cents on the dollar.

Maxwell Fritz made hundreds of thousands gambling online.
Will Rice for Eight One Seven Photography
Maxwell Fritz made hundreds of thousands gambling online.
Black Friday nearly finished Michael  Minkoff.
Bill Hughes
Black Friday nearly finished Michael Minkoff.

"If you had a... state-regulated system, that wouldn't happen," says Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas. He's also pushing a law to legalize online poker. "This is one of those rare congressional bills that's not a Republican-Democrat issue. There are people for it and against it on both sides, but there are much more people for it. If it came up on the floor of the Senate on a majority-vote wins, it would pass. Whether it has 60 votes, I just can't tell you."

The general sentiment, from players to politicians, is that something will get done — eventually.

Sandy Becher, an attorney based in a penthouse along the Miami River, is among the nation's experts on online-gaming law. He had his own brush with federal crackdowns in 1998; back then, he was in-house counsel for SBD Global, an early online-poker firm based out of Panama. In a move similar to Black Friday, the feds shuttered the firm; Becher eventually negotiated a financial settlement. Today, Becher says he thinks the Obama administration will create a framework for online poker in the near future.

"I have a very strong sense it will be regulated and taxed in the next 12 months," Becher says. "That comes from talking to legislators and operators and other attorneys and seeing the trend from the Justice Department to the needs of states in this difficult financial time."

In the meantime, poker has gathered some powerful advocates. Casinos that once guarded their turf are hoping to get in on the online action. They're pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get something done, but the prospect of new revenue sources is anathema to many Republicans. They squashed Reid's attempt to pass online-poker regulation in 2010.

It might come down to the states legalizing it within their borders (much like medical marijuana) and daring the feds to step in. Nevada has already begun issuing online-gambling licenses. Washington, D.C., passed a plan for running its own online-poker site. And in December, the Justice Department reversed its longstanding view that the 1961 Wire Act banned online gaming, a move many experts see as opening the door to state-regulated poker.


Eleven months after Black Friday, players are still adjusting to life without PokerStars and Full Tilt. Some, like Barros, have turned to live poker to fill the void. Just last month, she won the Miami Poker Society's tournament, earning a berth in the Las Vegas World Series of Poker. In February, she won a $700 pot in a game at Calder Casino.

"I've learned there are advantages in live games you don't have online. I can use my feminine wiles, for one," she says, laughing. "Online, I'm a dude as far as anyone is concerned."

But the basic unfairness of being told she can't sharpen her skills on a worldwide stage sticks in Barros' craw. What's more American, after all, than using your God-given gifts and carefully honed talents to make a living?

"Poker isn't gambling; it's a skill you learn and you practice and you develop," she says. "There's a reason there aren't professional slot-machine players. I deserve to play poker again like the rest of the world does."

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13 comments
Deman
Deman

Walter "Deadbeat Dad" Wright is a pussy!

online blackjack
online blackjack

Online Poker game has faces so many assault and that's why many people in trouble to join this great online gambling or not. This is the serious matter for the player.

7NT
7NT

Once the Wire Act was clarified ( and it seemed like the ruling was delayed?), maybe there was some culpability?

Dover Pro
Dover Pro

Online poker is a game of skill, as this article indicates, and it should be the right of anyone who chooses to play to do so. The PPA (http://theppa.org) is fighting to regulate and legalize US poker, check out their site for more information.

US Players have been continously victimized by shady operators, cheating scandals, poker action flops, faulty software, simple outright fraudulent sites, and payment processors being shut down.

It has been estimated that regulated legal online poker would produce up to 3 Billion Dollars in tax revenues VOLUNTARILY from players who would welcome protection. Legalized, trustworthy sites would automatically attract players from around the world creating a new American industry and thousands of USA jobs.

Sheryl J
Sheryl J

Thanks for this informative article about online poker and what the government did to it.  An entire industry was destroyed last year.  This is the first article that really illustrates the situation.  We need federal legislation that licenses and regulates online poker in the U.S. and brings back an industry.

Oh, and @rudedude, you're wrong.  Playing online poker is not, and has not been, explicitly illegal except in a couple of states.

Gary R. Reed
Gary R. Reed

Poker is a game of skill. For the Feds (or anyone else) who thinks it's just dumb luck like casino games or horse racing, sit down at a poker table with an accomplished player and play for a few hours. Let's see if you can get lucky. You won't. Oh you may win a hand or two. You might even come out ahead after an hour or two. Play long enough and skill will take all of your money. Bank it. That, if truth be known, is why the current administration hates the game. They want government to control you from the time you wake up until you go to sleep. To have something that they can't control, or even understand, is intolerable to them. 

FQS9000
FQS9000

Duh, the Fed are seizing assets.  They get to keep the cash.  That makes them look great to the other bureaucrats who promote them into better paying jobs.  The prosecutors are attacking because it is easy to get convictions, as these guys aren't hardened criminals.

Any time congress or ObammaBoy want to stop this they can, but it is in their narrow interests to continue.  So they will.

Term limits, guys.  Kick the pigs away from the trough.

rudedude
rudedude

Hello!  its ALWAYS been ILLEGAL! 

just because you got away with it for so long...

-not unlike internet taxes.  the day is coming... don't be shocked.

Gail S.
Gail S.

Thank you for this article!  Great background and good information on what has led up to our current situation here in the US and where we are now.  It's way past time for the US to move forward with regulating the online poker industry. 

Sheryl J
Sheryl J

Thanks for this informative article about online #poker.  I hope other media will do the same.  We need federal licensing and regulation, like H.R.2366.

Occultist1521
Occultist1521

It needs to be more massive than term limits like maybe just abandoning the current system in favor of another government with more democracy and less partisan bullsh*t. This current crap system shuttered everything not to keep the cash but to keep the cash out of your pocket. They collapsed the financial markets, and are now driving the dollar down by causing hyperinflation by printing money on top of money. No one you elect or reelect will change that. Wash. D.C. as the fed and state gov't. will NOT stop until everyone and I mean everyone (except themselves of course) has lost their home, job and is living on welfare. That way we become like Cuba dependant on Big Brothers hand outs so we can't and won't say anything against them for fear of losing our slice of bread.

JustMe
JustMe

No it hasn't. If you had read the article you'd see even the DOJ is no longer making that claim.

 
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