A short report on the continuing difficulties faced by poker sites in the wake of the FBI seizure of their domains and freezing of their assets.
June 27 2010: A straight flush in clubs on Absolute Poker, first five cards.
In the wake of Black Friday, UltimateBet and its sister site Absolute Poker are quitting the United States for good.
George (no second name) of the new UB Poker said: “Absolute Poker and UB ceased their U.S.-facing operations due to recent legal developments in the United States. The company is currently restructuring and is focusing its resources on consolidating its non-U.S., rest-of-the-world operation and software business. ”
Eighty percent of the companies’ workforce is now looking for new jobs, and “We regret that we have been compelled to take these actions. We have worked tirelessly to create a truly amazing company that is filled with extraordinary people. We have always been and still remain fully committed to our employees and players. At the same time, we are confident that this restructuring will strengthen the company and its future.”
The UltimateBet and Absolute Poker domains names that were seized by the FBI have now been removed. UltimateBet is no more, and the new company, UB.Net, has moved to an eponymous domain. At 14.57 London time on May 11, there were 10,867 players on 3702 according to the site counter. The membership of the old site having been transferred smoothly to the new one. Apart from its large American contingent, that is.
This is the sight that greeted American poker players after the Black Friday domain seizures.
As of yesterday, May 10, that total includes no sponsored players, because although their names have yet to be removed from the site, all ten sponsored professionals have had their contracts terminated. An earlier report that both sites are entering bankruptcy looks to have been unnecessarily pessimistic, although the prognosis is bad enough. Their offices and the office of PokerStars in Costa Rica have also been raided, apparently not under pressure from the American authorities but due to concerns over their frozen assets.
In spite of the current dismal state of affairs, and American players being left high and dry if only for the moment, on-line poker will survive. According to the VIP Manager of PokerStars writing from the company’s head office in the Isle of Man: “PokerStars continues to operate the world’s largest poker room, business as usual. It is true that the OIJ is currently at the PokerStars Costa Rican office and has sent employees home temporarily, but employees will be able to return in a few hours. PokerStars expects the office to return to business as usual in short order as this action was most likely taken as a response to problems experienced by other local companies in the same industry.”
It remains to be seen if American players can find a way around the new Draconian clampdown, and from the bellicose pronouncements issuing especially from the DOJ, it would be unwise of them to try, but there is no question that all the major players will recover from its financial effects, and the net result will be the loss of foreign capital and jobs for the US economy. And fifteen million angry poker players.
[The above article was published originally May 11, 2011; it included a screengrab uploaded by Silverberg. This has been replaced with one from the article Absolute Poker R.I.P. The other screengrab - of the domain seizure notice - is an enhanced version of the one used originally].
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