In the two years since online poker’s infamous “Black Friday”, most of the biggest headlines in the poker media have been about the big picture dealings between the U.S. government and major poker sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Less attention was paid to the individuals who had been targeted by the Department of Justice, such as a group of eleven indicted on Black Friday – April 15, 2011 -that included bankers, payment processors and executives at the poker sites themselves.
However, the government interest in online poker didn’t end on that day. One of the most prominent individuals targeted since Black Friday was PokerStars CEO Mark Scheinberg. This week, Scheinberg reached a settlement with the United States government that will finalize the legal proceedings between the two parties without requiring Scheinberg to admit any wrongdoing.
But the agreement doesn’t come without a price. As part of the settlement, Scheinberg will have to forfeit $50 million to federal prosecutors. Still, the fact that he will not have to plead guilty to any charges is a major win for Scheinberg, similar to the same provision PokerStars itself received when they settled the civil complaints against the company last year. PokerStars was forced to forfeit $731 million as a part of that settlement.
“The agreement is not in response to any action that has been brought against Mark and contains no admission of wrongdoing, culpability or guilt,” said PokerStars spokesman Eric Hollreiser in a statement.
UIGEA Violations Cited
Scheinberg was not technically cited as were two other PokerStars executives, who faced charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Those included his father, Isai Scheinberg, who founded the poker site, as well as Paul Tate, director of payments for PokerStars. However, his position as CEO generated plenty of interest in Mark Scheinberg’s role at the company as well.
The settlement comes while PokerStars is still engaged in a legal battle over their attempted purchase of the Atlantic Club casino in Atlantic City. One of the reasons cited by the Atlantic Club for backing out of the sale was the ongoing legal issues faced by several PokerStars executives. Scheinberg’s settlement puts to bed one of the most notorious DoJ cases of money laundering and bank fraud cases in recent history, but the company’s chances of acquiring the Atlantic Club at this point – based on recent court rulings – are still slim to none.