PokerStars And CEREUS Network Also Targeted In Massive Fraud Case

In our continuing coverage of this weekend’s shocking online poker crackdown, today we are going to look at how the FBI and the U.S. Attorney are targeting PokerStars and both Absolute Poker and UB from the CEREUS Network. If you’ve been under a rock this weekend and haven’t seen the headlines, then you might be shocked to know that the American sites for Full Tilt, PokerStars, Absolute Poker and are all inaccessible due to an FBI seizure relating to pending fraud and money laundering charges against three of the poker industry’s largest online brands.

As we noted yesterday, Full Tilt Poker’s website was the first to go down, and the good people at FTP were equally quick to defend their operations, though ultimately they will be suspending real-money play for their U.S. members…assuming the FBI eventually lifts the lockdown on their U.S. domain, that is. Shortly after Full Tilt went down, so too did PokerStars and the sister sites UB and Absolute Poker. Now, every one of those poker room’s home pages bears the same warning advising patrons of the site of the charges each room could be facing. Try to access secondary pages, and surfers will only get a “The webpage cannot be found” error.

Real money members of each of these sites went into a panic upon finding all four lobbies inaccessible, even through their pre-downloaded software. This isn’t PokerStars’ first run-in with the UIGEA, but it is the first time that the site has been completely shut down. Now, though, virtually all of the poker rooms can be accessed through their preexisting European domains (like Still, American players’ ability to deposit or withdraw from either PokerStars or the CEREUS sites have been suspended indefinitely.

Not only is the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York threatening to confiscate all property used to carry out the allegedly illegal gambling activities (including everything from what could amount to billions in player funds to the currently defunct domain names), but several individual charges have been leveled against the founders, CEOs and other upper-level management members of the above three poker sites.

Online ring games are the bread and butter of most American pros’ salaries, and satellites have long been padding the numbers of the biggest tournaments while sites like PokerStars are almost single-handedly responsible for the operations of some of the most popular live tours. In fact, it has already been reported that ESPN could pull the plug on live coverage of this season’s EPT and NAPT events, and the recently forged alliances between brands like PokerStars and Full Tilt and some of the largest gambling corporations in Nevada have already been dropped. In other words, the effects of this case reach far beyond online poker and could very well reshape the entire industry.

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