Pokerstars Turbulent History

The Turbulent Evolution of PokerStars

Pokerstars, the world's leading online poker site, marked its 20th anniversary in December 2021. Let's take a look at it's turbulent journey from inception to stardom.


Playing Poker on the Web with PokerStars


Back in 2001, online poker was still in its early stages. The concept of "electronic poker" had been around for some time before the emergence of the internet.


In the 1970s, as personal computers were being invented, the initial poker programs were also formulated. Mike Caro, known as the "Mad Poker Genius", then created a program for heads-up Limited Hold'em games on an Apple II computer in the early 1980s that demonstrated excellent results against experienced players. Around the same time, Las Vegas Casinos began installing the first video poker machines, with the consoles permitting players to compete against each other and against the computer in draw and stud poker.


In the year 1988, the introduction of the first IRC chat networks occurred. Four years later, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh created a script that allowed IRC users to engage in poker sessions against each other. After connecting to the poker server, each participant selected a channel appropriate to the type of poker they were interested in. The gameplay was conducted by inputting commands such as ‘check’, ‘bet’, ‘call’ and ‘raise’, as well as the value of bets. These matches were all based on Play Money chips, despite some players using real money to play against each other.


In the mid-1990s, the emergence of online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay fostered the expansion of online payment systems. Shortly after, gambling websites began to appear.


The inaugural real money poker hand took place on January 1st, 1998, at the $3/$6 Limit Hold'em table with a $30 buy-in. This room was playable in the browser, with rather basic graphics; a fixed image of the poker table with unalterable avatars, and a basic animation of the action. Unfortunately, the modem would often malfunction, causing disconnects, and a security issue in the random number generator was found before being resolved. In spite of this, the number of players kept growing steadily due to the advertisement by Mike Caro, who established a new role - that of an online poker ambassador.


Back in 1999, Paradise Poker became the foremost leader in the online poker industry with its advances in software, graphics, and a greater variety of games. Then, in the summer of 2001, PartyPoker was established. For its sizeable promotional endeavours and tournaments, it has since become the leading poker website at the turn of the millennium, offering the first-ever $1,000,000 tournament.


The Appearing of PokerStars


The emergence of PokerStars as a major player in the online poker industry is an event that has had a profound impact. The platform has become a major force in the industry, with its presence being felt in many countries around the world. It has become a popular choice for many poker players looking to enjoy a game online.


In the fall of 2001, PokerStars released their Play Money Beta, with real money games becoming available by December. This proved to be a big step up from the competition, featuring improved graphics and animation. The client also had basic game statistics, the ability to take notes on opponents, and the option to upload one's own avatar. In addition to Hold'em, Omaha and Stud poker were also available, usually in limited format, although one could also find Pot Limit tables. The first account was created by Swedish player Oscar pokermaniac Hornell. Moreover, the PokerStars Room hosted a great variety of tournaments, which was a major factor in the poker boom. Subsequently, Pacific Poker (later rebranded 888poker), Absolute Poker, Bodog, and Full Tilt Poker emerged as leading players in the industry.


By 2001, poker in the online sphere had yet to be embraced by the traditional poker community. Many players had doubts about its legitimacy, questioning whether it was truly "real poker". However, this outlook shifted rapidly.


WSOP 2003 was taken by Chris Moneymaker as the victor


2003 was an integral year in the history of PokerStars and online poker. Ask all current poker players who were of age at the time, and many will say that this was when they first encountered online poker. This is largely due to the presence of Chris Moneymaker, a 27-year-old accountant from Tennessee who won the 2003 WSOP Main Event by playing in a PokerStars satellite. This was the first time online satellites to the WSOP Main Event were available. The World Series organizers had signed agreements with various websites, including PokerStars. Moneymaker, playing under the name Money800, surprisingly entered a one-table Sit-n-Go with a buy-in of $86, not knowing it was a satellite to the WSOP mainline event. He later stated: To be honest, I didn't know it was a satellite. If I knew I never would have played it..


When Moneymaker won the Sit-n-Go, he was given the chance to compete in the $650 Final Satellite, which would award three tickets to the WSOP main event. He was tempted by the $8,205 consolation prize for fourth place, which would have paid off his credit card debt, but a friend urged him to keep playing with a promise to provide $5,000 for half his main event action. Eventually, he won the ticket, though his friend couldn't come up with the full amount. The organizers only gave $1,000 for travel expenses, so Chris sold the shares to another buddy. His success in the Main Event is now well-known, as he beat 839 players and was rewarded with a championship bracelet and a $2,500,000 prize. ESPN aired a video about his victory for months, sparking more players to begin playing online. This led to an increase of amateurs in live poker, and the divide between old-school players and internets began to diminish. The following year, Greg Raymer won the WSOP Main Event, which had also been selected through an online PokerStars satellite, and he earned a double prize of $5,000,000. By 2006, the attendance of the WSOP Main Event had increased tenfold to 8,773. Over 1,600 of these players had earned their way through the PokerStars satellites, and Jamie Gold became the eventual winner, taking home a record $12,000,000.


The WCOOP has become the most expansive online poker tournament series in history


Before Chris Moneymaker's success, PokerStars had already seen success with the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP). This was the online counterpart to the WSOP, and it was held a year before the WPT offline tournament series was created and the European Poker Tour was established.


Nine tournaments were hosted, each with an initial buy-in of $109, which was considered expensive at the time. The most number of players registered for the Limit Hold'em tournament (565) while the least registered for the Limit Omaha High Low tournament (135). The main event, with a buy-in of $1,050 and 238 entrants, granted a Swedish "MultiMarine" prize of $65,450.


The 2002 WCOOP debut was incredibly successful and PokerStars demonstrated that the online series could be just as competitive as the expanding live poker festivals. Following Moneymaker's success, the World Championship of Online Poker became even more popular and the Main Event prize pool grew to an impressive $12,200,000 by 2010. Tyson's POTTERPOKER Marx's win for the 2010 Main Event was a record-breaking $2,278,098 and this continues to be the highest prize to date. These figures demonstrate the remarkable rise of online poker globally as well as the continual flow of money into the poker economy.


When it first started out, WCOOP was seen as a premier poker series, and it wasn't until 2017 that players with smaller buy-ins were able to compete in the tournaments. This move was met with criticism by some in the poker world who felt that this was diminishing the value of the series. However, this led to an increase in the amount of people taking part in the series. By 2021, there had been 306 tournaments in total with a combined prize pool of over 122 million dollars.


In the years prior to 2011, a majority of World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) winners were from the United States. However, once PokerStars left the American market, it dropped to fourth place. Poker has since become a global game, with players from Russia and Brazil taking the top spots.


PokerStars have ventured into the world of offline poker and introduced an innovative EPT series


Back in 2004, the European Poker Tour (EPT) was brought to life by PokerStars, with a view of testing the waters. It was not anticipated, however, that the series would be met with such success. With Chris Moneymaker's success overseas, many European poker players were enthusiastic to have a major tournament on their home continent, but what they needed was an organizer with the necessary financial resources.


Unlike the annual WSOP held in Las Vegas, the EPT's inaugural season was held between September 2004 and March 2005, hosting seven stops scattered across Europe, one each month. Thanks to the availability of online satellites, everyone had the chance to compete, and future years saw successes from the likes of Jeff Williams, Mike McDonald, Gavin Griffin and Jason Mercier. The majority of poker tournaments in Europe had buy-ins of no more than €1,000, and typically had around 200 entrants. US top pros often frequented the larger tournaments, but local players were the majority in most. PokerStars wisely marketed the EPT as a new and exciting experience, positioning poker as a game that the young and smart play to win big prizes in popular vacation spots. Perfect timing, as it happened, as the series coincided with the start of the era of affordable air travel, appealing to many gamers who wanted to visit a new town and play poker.


During the inaugural EPT season, novel ideas were implemented as the situation demanded. Casino and card club operators had experience in poker, but they had never seen such a large crowd in one place. The venues were jam-packed, small eateries could not handle the demand for snacks during breaks, and the play time had to be extended to 15-16 hours to ensure the tournament schedule ran without a hitch.


The first season of the WSOP incorporated cameras in the side tables in order to show viewers the pocket cards. Since the crew was accustomed to shooting dynamic sports, they had to adjust to recording the more nuanced reactions of poker players. Dave Corfield, an early EPT operator, admitted, "It was a sport about which we knew nothing". To learn the rules, the staff took breaks to read the book, "Poker for Teapots".


The EPT series has greatly impacted the poker world, transcending numerous boundaries. It has united seasoned European poker players with ambitious, young professionals from all over the planet, which has been a major contributing factor in the growth of poker globally. This series was the first live poker experience for numerous online poker fans. In addition, the EPT was at the core of the emergence of well-known players like Patrick Antonius, Bertrand ElkY Grospelier and Justin Bonomo, subsequently becoming the premier tournament series around the world.


The Year 2011's Black Friday


On April 15th, 2011, people around the globe saw a picture of the most well-known poker sites back then - Full Tilt, PokerStars, Absolute Poker, and Ultimate Bet - indicating that these URLs were taken control of by the FBI.


Where did it all start?


Chris Moneymaker, a humble accountant from Tennessee, created an unexpected wave of poker popularity both in the US and beyond when he won the 2003 WSOP Main Event after qualifying online. Within two years, the number of both online players and live tournaments increased tenfold. Numerous newcomers used this opportunity to improve their skills by playing multiple games on a daily basis; the top achievers even managed to make a living out of it.


In 2006, the US government put forth the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) as a measure to prevent money transfers to unlicensed gambling sites, thus making most forms of online gambling illegal. Supposedly, this was done to preserve citizens' funds from being exploited by criminals.


The poker industry responded in various ways to the UIGEA. Partypoker, the most prominent poker site of the time, blocked US customers straight away, causing them to lose their top spot. On the other hand, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker opted to not limit American involvement. One of the key "loopholes" they found was American billionare Daniel Tzvetkoff, who set up his firm as a kind of bank for the four top poker sites (PokerStars, FullTilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and UniBet Poker). Tzvetkoff posed as a business magnate in the computer field, but in reality, he was in charge of transferring the poker rooms' funds. This went on until the poker room managers grew suspicious of him taking some of the money for himself. To punish Tzvetkoff, they handed over details of his activities to the US government. He was facing up to 75 years in prison for his actions, yet something unexpected happened. He made a deal with the FBI and gave away all the data regarding the poker rooms' funds, while at the same time receiving protection from the authorities and being ostracized by the poker sites.


On Black Friday, everything came to a halt


In 2011, Preet Bharara from the Southern District of New York submitted criminal charges against eleven key poker company officials and straight away the FBI blocked their websites.


PokerStars experienced a decline of 26% in its total traffic, while Full Tilt Poker saw a 16% decrease. Conversely, the Cereus Poker Network, which included Absolute Poker and UltimateBet, remained amongst the top ten most popular poker rooms. Despite the US government's interference, these two poker rooms continued to provide services to US players, albeit with a maximum withdrawal limit of 10%. On poker forums, many worried players were seen selling and purchasing US dollars at much less than their actual value, assuming that they would never be able to get their money back; some bankrolls were sold for just 10 cents on the dollar.


Authorities issued arrest warrants for the creators and backers of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker/UltimateBet. Initially, these individuals were accused of participating in illegal online gambling. Later, reports surfaced of deception, money laundering, and a pyramid scheme (Full Tilt Poker was obligated to players for almost $390 million while only possessing $60 million).


Reactions from the Poker world


Obviously, these events had an impact on the poker players. Social media and forums were inundated with debates about the fate of online poker, with some believing there was no future. Others, however, made light of the situation. Eric Lindgren, who owns two WPT titles and two WSOP bracelets, joked, “I told Daniel Negreana if he ever started to win online, the world would end”. Many players not only lost their bankrolls, but also all their savings, as they had kept them in their poker accounts, sometimes in the form of six-digit sums. Blair Hinkle, who had won the FTOPS shortly before Black Friday, lamented that he was unable to withdraw any of his winnings as his account had exceeded one million dollars.


Having blocked online poker in the US, many American professionals made the difficult choice to leave their homeland. Justin Bonomo shared that he had to depart, leaving behind a sizable sum on Full Tilt. There were those who were unable to recover from the financial losses, like Chad Batista who was a renowned poker player at the time and had won millions of dollars from online tournaments. His withdrawal led him to online poker, and he found it hard to adjust to live events. He too moved to another country, but his struggle with alcohol abuse resulted in his premature death at the age of 34.


Consequences


The ramification of an action or decision can be far-reaching and profound.


The global event of "Black Friday" had many impacts, particularly on the involved parties. While PokerStars managed to reach an agreement with the government and take a series of financial hits, the other participants weren't as fortunate. Just a few months later, Blanca Gaming, the parent company of Absolute Poker and UniBet Poker, filed for bankruptcy and had to terminate all of its personnel. Full Tilt Poker had never recovered from the 40% traffic reduction and the debt payments, and ended up being bought by PokerStars in 2021 and eventually closed its operations. The US online poker market completely stopped functioning. Even though many players have moved to different rooms, it is still prohibited. In April 2011, the US launched a campaign with the intention of legalizing poker. To this day, the bill is ready but the authorities are still debating whether to forbid online poker.


PokerStars Experiences the Impact of Black Friday


The day known as Black Friday has had a notable effect on the online poker company, PokerStars. This event has had a lasting influence on the company and how it operates.


The Manhattan Federal Attorney's Office lodged a series of accusations against Isaiah Scheinberg, the originator of PokerStars, for illicit activities that caused Black Friday 2011, the interruption of PokerStars and the insolvency of its central adversary, Full Tilt Poker. In this instance, indictments were brought against ten other individuals, all of whom eventually pled guilty.


When indicting the accused, federal prosecutor Prit Bharara emphasized that “foreign companies operating in the United States cannot overlook laws that are not in their favor.”


After Black Friday, Full Tilt Poker declared bankruptcy and was unable to give back the $330 million that belonged to the players. Bharara declared the business a pyramid scheme, but he and Sheinberg tried to find a way out. Ultimately, PokerStars bought Full Tilt for $731 million, and Starzov's claims were disregarded. The Justice Department used the money to reimburse the American players and PokerStars gave back the lost money to the other countries' players. Sheinberg became a bit of a celebrity among online poker players. Despite his assistance in the Full Tilt matter, the federal prosecutors continued to pursue him. His son Mark sold PokerStars for $4.9 billion in 2014, and Sheinberg's voluntary surrender to the US authorities marked the end of one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of the Internet.


The Tale of Isaiah Scheinberg


A narrative of Isaiah Scheinberg's life can be told.


Though Sheinberg tends to keep a low profile (limited images and interviews), he is far from ordinary.


In the 1960s, Isay was brought into the world in the Lithuanian SSR. Then, he attained his degree from Moscow State University, and after that, he moved to Israel. During 1973, he was part of the "Yom Kippur war" against the Arab nations.


Having finished his military duties, Scheinberg was welcomed to the Israeli arm of IBM in 1983, and soon after was recruited by their Canadian office in Toronto. His aptitude as a programmer had a major part in the construction and execution of Unicode, a common character encoding standard for written languages.


Scheinberg was part of the group of mathematicians who enjoyed poker. He had a special liking for tournaments, and in '96 he participated in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.


In the year 2000, Scheinberg established PYR Software in Toronto for the purpose of manufacturing and selling software to online poker operators, yet he had difficulty locating customers in this recently created sector. A year later, at the peak of the "dot com boom", he and his son Mark started their own online poker room called PokerStars. Mark crafted the idea and served as the managing director of Rational Entertainment Enterprises. This online gambling business, much like many of its counterparts, was located in Costa Rica.


Rational's PokerStars Internet platform was started on September 11th, 2001, the same day that terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City. A decade later, a former NYPD officer Mike Kosovo, who was among the first to help out at the WTC, won $1 million in a PokerStars-sponsored poker show with Fox. The software produced by PYR Software, and employed by PokerStars, was distinctive as it featured online tournaments. There were also cash games, but it was the PokerStars competitions that attracted many players. For just a small fee, usually below $25, they could participate in the freezeout and have the option to make a substantial gain without risking much money. Gamers also relished the tournament format itself, in which players were eliminated consecutively and the leftovers continued until all chips went to the winner. In the summer of 2002, Stars held the inaugural World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP), a digital version of the World Series of Poker (WSOP).


Initial Statements by the US


PokerStars rose to become the world's second largest internet poker provider after PartyGaming, a firm based in Gibraltar. This company held the number one spot in the US, the world's premier poker market.


The US Department of Justice disapproved of international online poker rooms conducting business within the country. Its standpoint was that online poker went against the 1961 legislation that prohibited bets across state boundaries and the US border, with the use of wired communication.


Despite the legal opinion from top American law firms, PokerStars, PartyGaming, and Full Tilt Poker all continued to provide services to U.S. patrons. The latter, operated by the well-known professional players Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, and Ray Bitar, Ferguson's prior Wall Street associate, were in particularly high demand. They promoted their poker rooms on TV, broadcasted television shows, and even sponsored some of the most famous sports stars, such as Rafael Nadal, Boris Becker, Gianlugi Buffon, Ronaldo, and Orel Hershiser. During the early 2000s, the U.S. government seemed to overlook this activity, as it was possible to sign up with a credit card. The poker rooms argued that the 1961 Act referred exclusively to sports betting, and not poker, and that the Federal Illegal Gambling Act did not apply either, since the game was one of skill and not luck. As a result, PokerStars, which relocated their headquarters to the Isle of Man, and Scheinberg, who became the technical director of the company, received confirmation of their legal position.


In March 2006, Calvin Air, a billionaire owning Bodog, the offshore online bookmaker, was on the cover of Forbes magazine. His article in that issue was called Catch me if you can. The son of a Canadian pig farmer, Air relocated to Costa Rica and was successful in transforming Bodog into a prominent bookmaker as it started to accept bets from American players. In that article, Forbes wrote about Air's billionth state, noting that Bodog allegedly breached the 1961 law.


Laws becoming more stringent and Attempts to Access Poker Rooms Illegally


The laws pertaining to poker rooms are becoming increasingly strict, and there have been numerous attempts to bypass these regulations and gain access to these rooms illegally.


A few months after, the US Congress approved the Suppression of Unlawful Internet Gambling Act. This scared the traditional directors of PartyGaming and made them abandon the profitable US sector. The stock plunged and has not gone back up since. In 2009, PartyGaming, providing poker to US online casino players, reached an agreement with the US government and paid a penalty of $105 million in return for not being prosecuted.


In contrast, Scheinberg was the head of a private enterprise that specialized in poker. The Suppression of Illegal Online Gambling Act 2006 prohibited related money transactions but not online gambling itself. Due to this legislation, the number of available deposit and cash options for American players decreased, yet they still chose to participate on foreign sites. When PartyPoker left the US market, PokerStars pounced and became the most significant online poker room globally. Full Tilt, who decided to still serve the US market, was the only other contender that competed vigorously.


In 2010, Schoenberg had employed Dick Gefardt, a previous House majority leader, as a lobbyist in the capital. This resulted in Starze's net profit increasing to $500 million annually with a total of $1.4 billion.


The massive amounts of money flowing through PokerStars had the attention of the Justice Department, particularly the prosecutors in Manhattan. Led by Arlo Devlin-Brown, the lawmen identified a weakness in the offshore poker operations - the large sums of money from players and back to the US financial system. Most banks and credit card companies refused to facilitate their gambling transactions, so PokerStars and Full Tilt had to resort to smaller payment services that were willing to accept the money in exchange for a hefty fee.


In the years 2009 and 2010, the government confiscated large sums of money from businesses that facilitated the monetary transactions of poker websites. A few of these enterprises were even accused and had their assets confiscated.


The controversy was sparked by the utilization of false MCC codes for credit card payments, which were used to send funds from players to poker rooms and vice versa. To camouflage the real intention of the payment from the US issuing bank, a different code was used, making the transaction look like it was for the purchase of flowers or animal products, instead of to the poker website. This technique has been utilized by Full Tilt since its beginning, which has aided them in swiftly increasing their player base, yet PokerStars has always stated they have not employed the same tactic.


Although the poker industry was in the gray zone, prominent politicians such as Barney Frank were pushing to make it legal. As a result, federal prosecutors' intervention was seen as a costly obstacle to overcome. Frank Catania, the head of the New Jersey State Gambling Commission and an online gambling specialist, stated, "The federal government will not be able to stop the poker rooms from closing down."


PokerStars Celebrated Black Friday in 2011


On April 15th, 2011, federal prosecutors in Manhattan made a major announcement impacting the online poker industry, a day later dubbed "Black Friday" by poker players. Preet Bharara charged eleven people, including PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker executives, Sheinberg, Bitar, and four gateway operators, plus one banker. There were no accusations of violating the 1961 Wire Call Ban Act, but they were accused of contravening the Illegal Gambling Act, plus criminal conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering. Mark Sheinberg was never charged.


The Federal authorities employed a creative approach to apprehend the domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker. Players were unable to log in to the usual Friday session and instead came across a notification that their beloved poker website had been seized by the FBI. Furthermore, the state filed a civil suit against PokerStars and a few months later, Rod Rosenstein, who at the time was a federal prosecutor in Baltimore, charged Calvin Eru, the creator of the online bookmaker Bodog, who had possibly expedited the approach of Black Friday.


Sheinberg was stunned by the events that unfolded, and the prosecution team led by Bharara was just as shocked when Full Tilt Poker shut down without being able to pay the $330 million owed to players. A civil suit was then filed by Bharara against the head of the company, Ray Bitar, and his two partners, professional poker players Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson. The prosecutor asserted that the trio had taken players' bankrolls to distribute $440 million in dividends to board members and owners. Ferguson has since been widely disliked by the poker community, causing him to miss several WSOP tournaments.


Sheinberg managed to return all $150 million of PokerStars customers' money to American customers. One year later, the owners of PokerStars struck a deal with the US Department of Justice, in which they paid a fee of $547 million and another $184 million to Full Tilt customers whose accounts had been blocked since the investigation started. In return, PokerStars acquired all assets of Full Tilt. The Starzes declared themselves not guilty of any wrongdoing, with one of the terms of the agreement being that Sheinberg would not take any more senior roles in the company.


In the following years, all defendants of the "Black Friday Case" except Sheinberg, admitted guilt to various charges, from misdemeanors to bank conspiracy. The most extreme prison sentences were given to the owners of payment locks, with a maximum sentence of three years. However, the penalties imposed on the online poker operators were minor. Full Tilt's CEO Ray Bitar confessed to bank fraud conspiracy and was let off with a sentence due to his ill health. He also accepted a fine of $40 million. Scott Tom, president of Absolute Poker, who also failed to reimburse players, confessed to an offense. Calvin Air, the wealthy bookmaker of Bodog, who accepted bets from players in the US, was allowed to plead guilty without being present in a court in the US, instead doing so from his lawyer's office in Vancouver, Canada.


Acquisition of PokerStars


The purchase of PokerStars is now complete. This deal marks a new beginning for the popular online poker site. Players can expect to see a variety of new features that will enhance their gaming experience. Additionally, the sale will open up new opportunities for the company's growth.


After Isaiah's son Mark Scheinberg was given the leadership position at PokerStars, the business kept operating in the Isle of Man, but no longer catered to American players. In the meantime, David Baazov, a director of a software development business in Montreal, began to make frequent calls and visits to Mark, hoping to purchase PokerStars with the aid of Blackstone Group - a global giant in private investment. However, the New Jersey gambling regulator, which had legalized online poker in 2013 (with Nevada and Delaware following suit), rejected PokerStars' application for a license multiple times due to its association with Scheinberg. Despite this, Scheinberg was willing to pay a reasonable price for the license.


When Blackstone representatives took an in-depth look at PokerStars' financials, they discovered that Scheinberg had put together an excellent company.


Despite no longer being located in the US, the room was still able to bring in an annual income of four hundred million dollars, resulting in a yearly revenue of one point one billion dollars.


At the time of the cybersecurity audit, PokerStars had 89 million registered users, with a regular monthly visitor count of 5 million. This made the audit a breeze. Astonishingly, the site hosted 500,000 daily online tournaments.


In 2014, the Sheinbergs sold their company to Amaya Gaming with the assistance of Blackstone for nearly five billion dollars. As a result of the transaction, Mark Sheinberg, who was given $3.7 billion in cash for his 75% stake, became one of the world's youngest billionaires. In a statement to his staff, he pointed out: «This deal and our accomplishments validate the hard work, expertise and commitment of our employees, which will lead us to greater successes.


The Impact of Black Friday on Online Poker in the United States


The now-infamous "Black Friday" of 2011 had a massive impact on the online poker industry in the United States. This event saw the US Department of Justice shut down some of the largest online poker sites operating in the US, and it sent shockwaves through the industry. Since then, the landscape of online poker in the US has changed dramatically.


When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, it may have appeared to be advantageous for online gambling. Trump had a history of indulging in gambling, and he even created a business that provided gambling over the internet. He believed that the US should make online gambling legal, as several other nations have already done, commenting that legalization seemed inevitable, although nothing is certain in this country.


However, after Trump took office, his team shifted its strategy. Jeff Seyshens' Justice Department reinterpreted the 1961 Betting Act, claiming it also included online gambling and poker. New Hampshire's lottery disagreed and in 2019 a federal court supported their stance, ruling that the law only applied to sports betting. The Government refused to accept the decision and brought an appeal, which is still under consideration.


The US Attorney's Office in Manhattan, headed by Jeffrey Berman, has now shifted their focus to Shainberg. He appears to be facing charges of unlawful gambling, rather than illicit financial transactions. Isay is currently in New York to address the allegations against him. After being released on a $1 million bail, the defendant surrendered his passports. At the proceedings, federal prosecutor Olga Zverovich declared that the US government and Sheinberg have had protracted discussions to reach a settlement outside of court and have achieved an agreement in principle. Nonetheless, it appears he will only be fined.

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