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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

NYC Gambling Case: Abe Mosseri and Justin Smith Playing Poker While Out on Bail

Abe Mosseri
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Back in April a major FBI Gambling Bust netted some of poker's finest, like Abe Mosseri, Bill Edler, Peter Feldman, Justin "Boosted J" Smith, Edwin Ting, and others. Some of those players have pled guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business and aiding in unlawful activity in New York City. And some of those players have asked the court to allow them to continue to earn their livelihood which is playing poker — count Mosseri and Smith in that tally.

abcNEWS reports that Mosseri is out on bail and asked a federal judge to allow him to earn his living as a high limit poker pro; giving him the leeway to travel to different parts of the United States while he pursues his profession.

"This is not Mr. Mosseri's desire to get some hot weather in Vegas," defense attorney Michael Bachner said during a hearing in May. "He just wants to engage in his livelihood, which is a legal activity he has done for many, many years."

There are others that have been granted the freedom to travel and play poker while they wait for the next move in the legal labyrinth.

Last month Smith agreed to forfeit $500,000 after pleading guilty and is expected to be sentenced in January. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ruled that Smith could continue his poker playing career while he waits for the sound of the gavel. Smith "makes a living by lawful poker playing and poker tournaments and supports members of his family that way," Mark MacDougall, Smith's lawyer, told the judge.

Prosecutors’ are saying Smith’s involvement with others in an illegal internet bookmaking organization where the organization catered to very wealthy bettors led to his arrest.

Prosecutor Joshua Naftalis' claims against Mosseri at the hearing were founded on supposed wiretaps revealing that Mosseri's Bellagio Las Vegas house account was used in the illegal gambling operation. Naftalis went on to say that because they found $215,000 in chips and $30,000 in cash in Mosserie’s safe deposit box at Bellagio, it "suggests money laundering to us."*

Mosseri is allowed to play in a poker tournament in Las Vegas but is banned from staying at Bellagio and must report his winnings and stay in constant touch with the federal probation department.

"Mr. Mosseri, there is a saying that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," the judge said. "Don't assume that to be the case here."

*Our opinion: What would happen if they opened all the high-limit poker players' lockboxes spread throughout the casinos in the USA? Mosseri's lockbox contents were probably on the lowside of average for a high-limit pro. At least we have some of the best legal minds in the country taking care of us.

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