Black Friday continues to have massive ramifications in the poker world from bankruptcy and raids to arrests and prosecutions. It is indeed a black time for the online poker world.
According to msnbc.com, Absolute Poker will be forced into bankruptcy due to the loss of American players which could spell bad news for American players still deposited in the site and sister site UB.com. Accoring to the report:
Madeira Fjord of Norway, which represents shareholders in the poker websites’ parent company, Blanca Gaming of Antigua, said in an email to shareholders this week that it planned to file for bankruptcy protection in Norway after being informed that the latter company had “no cash on hand and no prospects for any cash flow for the foreseeable future.”
“Most importantly, Blanca Gaming has provided notice … that it is currently unable to make any payments toward its debt obligations,” it said. “Additionally, Blanca has further advised that there will be no future payments.”
Meantime, a source in Costa Rica, where Absolute Poker and UB (formerly Ultimate Bet) have their operations center, told msnbc.com that more than 300 customer support and marketing employees – approximately 95 percent of the staff — had been laid off.
The bad news continues for the company as the Washington Post reports that Absolute has also let go of its American sponsored pros.
The parent company of online poker websites Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet said Monday it laid off 11 sponsored poker professionals in the United States as two of its executives face charges of tricking banks into processing illegal gambling payments.
Antigua-based Blanca Games said it has severed ties to players including Joe Sebok, Prahlad Friedman, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and “Real World” reality star Trishelle Cannatella.
“This was a difficult task for Blanca’s management, and we are very disappointed that we have been compelled to sever ties with our sponsored pros,” the company said. “We are truly saddened that circumstances have dictated this course of action.”
The company said the indictments unsealed April 15 mean the company can’t pay players to play poker. The legal actions in federal court in New York targeted 11 executives and alleged associates of Absolute, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, including Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of Absolute.
The indictment said Tom and Beckley were stepbrothers who were principal decision-makers for Absolute.
The trail of law enforcement even reached Costa Rica this week with raids of offices and residences of people believe to be in connection with Absolute and PokerStars, according to the Tico Times and other media outlets.
According to news reports, the raids were done to arrest Absolute Poker executive Scott Tom, Olman Rimola, the owner of Innovative Data Solutions (IDS) where Absolute Poker was housed, and a third man, whose name The Tico Times could not independently verify until OIJ offices open on Monday. The men are allegedly being investigated for money laundering and bank fraud.
The San Francisco Chronicle offers some insight on all the moving parts related to the future of online poker.
What is clear is that online poker in its current form has been drastically altered in the U.S. The major firms have had their dominance taken away, and the industry will likely have to wait for state and federal regulations before moving forward. Traditional gaming firms are likely to be the eventual winners, though many websites will likely again sprout up to get into the action whether the activity is officially made legal or not.
Lets hope this situation is soon resolved so freedom prevails. Playing poker online in no way infringes on the rights of others and can have a huge economic impact on the U.S. PokerTraditions supports legal, regulated, taxed, and safe online poker.