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Poker News | World Poker News

Poker Sites Bound for Bankruptcy? Black Friday Blues!

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American poker players that had money on deposit with Absolute Poker and UB Poker may never recover the money they deposited and won according to a report from A federal indictment last month against ‘the Big three’ online poker sites – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker – may force Absolute Poker to enter bankruptcy.

Madeira Fjord of Norway that represented shareholders in UB and Absolute Poker’s websites' parent company, Blanca Gaming of Antigua, sent an email to shareholders this week stating 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.”

It appears that approximately 95 percent of the staff - more than 300 customer support and marketing employees - had been laid off according to a source in Costa Rica where Absolute and UB Poker (formerly Ultimate Bet) have their operations center. Blanca Gaming was not available for comment on Wednesday.

Scott Tom and Brent Beckley - two of Absolute Poker's founders - and Absolute Poker were named in the April 15th indictment, which included PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, by the U.S. attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. UB Poker was not directly named in the indictment.  However, UB shares operations with Absolute Poker through the parent company, The Cereus Network, which is owned by Blanca Gaming.

The indictment alleges that money laundering, bank fraud, and illegal gambling offenses were committed by tricking U.S. banks into processing online gambling transactions which are all a violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 and is seeking at least $3 Billion in forfeiture and penalties.

Five internet domain names used by the companies were also seized by the government.  Control of the domain names was later relinquished back to PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to facilitate the repayment of U.S. player's funds.  PokerStars has initiated payment to U.S. players and it's possible that all of them have received their funds by this date.  Full Tilt Poker is still announcing news on their website and through an FAQ - they are working on returning the player’s funds.  

While the U.S. Attorney's Office was willing make a similar deal with Absolute and UB poker, no agreement has been forthcoming and the sites have not been honoring withdrawal requests from non-U.S. players according to Holdem Poker Chat, an affiliate marketing website that reported on the bankruptcy announcement and has a copy of the email sent out posted on their site.

Both Absolute and UB Poker were the subject of a cheating scandal in 2007 and many in the media continue to sift through evidence to find out what really happened and who was behind it, it's believed that more than one person was involved. A recent article at portrays trouble for Absolute Poker almost from the beginning.

Absolute and UB Poker filing bankruptcy to escape paying back U.S. player's funds is another reason the U.S. should license, tax, and regulate internet poker.

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