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Poker News: July 25th, 2009

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HEADLINE: Online Poker Funds Seized by NY District Court

It started with the usual rumblings. Several players wrote on poker forums that their withdrawal payments from Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars were invalid. Checks were bouncing and funds transfers were not completing. But the number of complaints grew at an unusually rapid pace until it became a full-blown concern. Then the truth came out: More than $30 million in funds were seized from major U.S. banks, all of which pertained to online poker companies, and it was ordered by the Southern District of New York.

The order officially came from Assistant U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, Arlo Devlin-Brown, and it was precise. Freeze the accounts of several banks associated with online poker accounts—Citibank, Alliance, and Goldwater—on the basis that they “... constitute property involved in money laundering transactions and illegal gambling offenses.” This seizure of funds occurred in numerous states and affected countless poker players. Though online poker sites were able to skirt the freeze, albeit after the hassle of it happening in the first place, by opening new accounts and asking players to request their transactions again, the prosecutor’s harsh words and actions were enough to garner the attention of the entire poker community as well as the mainstream media.

As for the poker industry, the Poker Players Alliance immediately came to the defense of players by writing to Devlin-Brown on June 8 to request “notice and the opportunity to be heard with respect to any warrant the AUSA may seek...” PPA Executive Director John Pappas also added in the publicly-released letter, “The PPA will pursue every legal course available to ensure that poker players’ funds are not seized and their right to play online poker is protected.” Pappas contended that the PPA should have standing in the case because the property seized belonged to quite a few of its 1.2 million members.

PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato released a statement as well to note his disappointment in the actions and insist that any seized monies should be released immediately. “The PPA is coordinating a legal strategy to appropriately protect PPA members who are impacted by the Southern District’s actions,” he wrote. “Seizure of money without judicial authority and litigation tactics inconsistent with previously stated Department of Justice policy appear to be the type of conduct that the Department has recently committed to change.”

Hearings should be scheduled in the coming weeks, and the Southern District of New York may issue a response to the PPA during that period of time. Until then, poker players need to stand up and be heard. Presumably, tens of thousands of poker players were affected by the attempted seizure of funds, and it must be the players who let the SDNY and members of Congress know exactly the hardships these actions caused.

At the time this article goes to press, there is no news on the progress, or lack thereof, of the case.

What people can do now is to contact their political representatives through one of two major poker organizations—Poker Players Alliance ( or Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative ( It is of the utmost importance to become active in the fight before the Department of Justice is able to have its way with any funds they deem related to gambling. Only the voices of the masses can change the trend.

Jennifer Newell is a compulsive writer. In addition to Poker Player Newspaper, she writes for numerous publications and blogs at as California Jen. In her little bit of spare time, she plays poker, too. Contact her at

Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on July 25th, 2009

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