Sunday saw the first anniversary of Black Friday and to mark the occasion, the Poker Players Alliance has been urging poker players to protest and lobby their representatives to legalise online poker in America.
“It’s been a full year since the rights of millions of American poker players were trampled,” said John Pappas, PPA’s executive director. ” We are calling on congress to reverse this wrong and reinstate our basic freedoms.”
Black Friday saw thousands of players prevented from playing and their accounts seized, when the Department of Justice closed several operators including Full Tilt Poker, Poker stars and Absolute Poker that were accused of illegal online gambling, bank fraud and money laundering. More sites were shut down over the ensuing months such as Bookmaker.com and Doylesroom.com.
Last Thursday Howard Lederer and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, former Full Tilt directors, had suits filed against them in Las Vegas for allegedly converting funds illegally. Full Tilt is accused of running a “global Ponzi scheme,” with Lederer and Ferguson exercising “unlawful dominion and control” over player’s funds. The plaintiffs in the case are seeking the refund of player’s money along with damages.
It is claimed players have been denied access to around $150 million held in their accounts, while Lederer is said to have received about $42 million from distributions and profit sharing payments and Ferguson pocketing $85 million, much of which is thought to be in the form of loans.
Along with the American Gaming Association, the PPA has also lobbied against intrastate legalisation of online poker. They prefer federal legislation although Nevada approved regulations last December to allow online gambling sites to apply for licenses to operate within the state.
Despite Black Friday, hundreds of offshore gambling sites are still operating illegally. “As long as these sites are operating outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement and with little to no regulation,” said Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the AGA, “Americans who continue to patronize them will be at risk of being defrauded.”