U.S. Online Poker Case Finally Comes Before Judge
Last week two men who are charged in a case which led to U.S operations for three internet poker companies being shut down were informed by a judge that they are likely to go on trial in March.
Lawyers for the two men presented arguments to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan over whether internet poker should be considered gambling. After the hearing the judge informed the attorneys that a trial was almost certain.
Former bank executive John Campos and co-defendant Chad Elie are the only men that seem to be headed towards a trial after a dozen people were charged. Half of the people charged were not arrested and have remained abroad and it seems that the remaining cases will be solved without a trial.
Campos used to work at SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah. The bank processed money for the online poker sites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. In total prosecutors are seeking $3 billion in money laundering penalties and forfeiture from all those who enabled PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker to operate in America.
Judge Kaplan was told by assistant U.S. Attorney Harlo Devlin-Brown that Congress was not intending to protect any companies that knowingly processed financial transactions for internet gambling companies. However, Congress will be giving passes for cable companies, banks and ISPs. Campos and Elie’s lawyer argued that they should be exempt from prosecution in the same way that a cable company or ISP is exempt.
One of Elie’s lawyers, Paul Clement, argued that Congress did not intend to outlaw internet poker games as a number of U.S. representatives and senators enjoyed the game themselves.
At present it has not been decided whether the final decision will be up to a jury, however, Kaplan commented that it would be interesting to see whether there are 12 jurors in New York “who think poker is not gambling or have no opinion on it.”