On Friday, the FBI charged executives at PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker with bank fraud and money laundering, cut off the flow of billions of dollars in the companies' bank accounts, and began making arrests, turning the once-thriving poker sites into scary reminders that online gambling is illegal (though, in a jolt of irony, it could soon be legal in Washington, DC). The news has, inevitably, inspired pun-happy headline writers worldwide (be it Know When to Fold 'Em or It's No Bluff: Manhattan Prosecutors Shut Down the Nation's Largest Online Poker Sites, Calling Them Three-of-a-Kind). But it's also riled up online poker players.
On Twitter, poker fans worried about the fate of their money in online gaming accounts. "The good news is I think I only had about $300 left on the online poker sites overall," one Wisconsin resident wrote, according to The Los Angeles Times. Another Twitter user anxiously awaited a money transfer: "just tried a bank wire with PokerStars....fingers crossed......Please allow 72 hours for processing of Wire cashouts." We should "expect a run-on-the-banks atmosphere as online players do what they can to cash out from the affected sites," warned B.J. Nemeth at Sport of Poker.
The poker forum Two Plus Two, meanwhile, was on fire. "Good thing the feds have their priorities straight. stopping americans from playing online poker should be the #1 priority for law enforcement," wrote lukaluka05, voicing a desire to leave the U.S. "This is really scary. first time that online poker being illegal has worried me," added FoldNow 13. Commenters engaged in apocalyptic talk ("This COULD possibly be (trying not to speak in absolutes with such little info at this time) the last shoe dropping on online poker (at least from reputable sites) in the US imo," noted Karak) and wild schemes were hatched ("On 2+2: potential for Euro players to buy out poker accounts of US players discussed," tweeted Amy Calistri). It's a safe bet, we think, that the debate has only begun.