Opening a new front in the government’s battle against Internet gambling, federal prosecutors have asked four American banks to freeze tens of millions of dollars in payments owed to people who play poker online.
The frozen payments of at least $33 million are owed to 27,000 players at four offshore poker sites, including PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com, according to John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, an advocacy group for online poker players.
Stephen Cohen, a spokesman at Citibank, a unit of Citigroup, confirmed that the bank had received a request from prosecutors. He said that as a matter of policy Citibank complies with such requests.
Wells Fargo, which received a court order to freeze the money, said it had a policy to comply with “valid instructions to seize funds” but declined further comment. It is not clear whether the other banks received court orders or simply requests.
I. Nelson Rose, a professor of law at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif., and a specialist on gambling law, called the government’s move a surprising and significant new effort to police wagering on the Internet.
“It’s very aggressive, and I think it’s a gamble on the part of the prosecutors,” Mr. Rose said. He added that it was not clear what law would cover the seizure of money belonging to poker players, as opposed to the money of the companies involved.Web's Poker Winners Face Delays in Collecting - General * US * News * Story - CNBC.com