Information for PPA Members on Actions by the Southern District of New York
As of June 9, 2009
In light of recent events by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) to freeze payment processor accounts containing pay-outs to online poker players, the PPA would like to clarify the facts as we know them today. Be assured, the PPA is keeping close tabs on this situation and is doing everything possible to protect our members’ money and rights.
On or about June 4, 2009, a federal agent working with a federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York contacted at least two banks in the Los Angeles and Scottsdale areas and requested that accounts containing approximately $19 million in player deposits and payouts be immediately frozen until a seizure warrant could be obtained from an appropriate judicial officer.
It is important to underscore that in at least two cases, the prosecutor acted and the banks responded without a warrant being issued.
Two days prior, the same agent and prosecutor team sent a seizure order to Wells Fargo freezing at least $14 million in accounts at that bank which were designated as pay-outs of winnings to Internet poker player.
In most cases, the pay-outs were the return of initial deposits made by players.
That same prosecutor sent two subpoenas to two individuals associated with one of the payment processing companies.
The seizure notice and subpoenas appear to allege violations of the Wire Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act, even by .com sites that are exempt from Wire Act liability and by .net sites that do not accept money.
These actions are not related to enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA.).
At least 24,000 player accounts have been affected directly or indirectly by the SDNY action.
PPA has been in touch with the affected poker Web sites and has been assured that all players have been or will be appropriately reimbursed.
On Monday, June 8th, the PPA sent a letter to the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York asking to be part of any future warrant hearings. The letter is available at www.pokerplayersalliance.org
The PPA is working closely with legal counsel on this issue to determine the appropriate course of action and will keep members updated as events warrant.
This is yet another example of misguided efforts to prohibit online poker. A more effective way to provide important protections while allowing individuals the freedom to play poker online is to regulate and license the industry. We need your help to make this happen. Send a letter to your member of Congress asking them to support licensing and regulating online poker.