UIGEA Breach Lands PokerStars Co-founder in Hot Water

Jan 28

One of the founders of PokerStars, Isai Scheinberg, is in hot water with the law due to an issue that happened in 2011. This has something to do with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This was signed into law by then US President George W. Bush and was why a lot of online poker portals started pulling out of the US.

While most poker providers began to restrict real money play to those in the US, three entities, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars, still allowed their US players to continue gambling as normal. On April 15, 2011, these sites were hit with indictments for violating the UIGEA, which was formulated to help prevent the movement of money to and from gambling sites. The heads of these gaming portals were all slapped with indictments for the UIGEA violation and charges of money laundering, bank fraud, and illegal gambling.

Fast forward to this year. Isai Scheinberg is traveling to the US to face these charges and to make a deal with the US goverment. While both him and his son Mark Scheinberg are co-founders of the company, only Isai was named in the indictment. They began this online poker portal way back in 2001. Last year, the US Government issued an extradition request to have Isai be sent back to the US from Switzerland, where he was on a trip. He surrendered his passport voluntarily and is out on bail after paying US $1 million.

The main issue that is being pegged on Scheinberg is his failure to comply with the UIGEA and for continuing to operate in the US after this law was passed. Also included in the list of violations is the conspiracy to launder money and to commit bank fraud. There are ongoing negotiations with the US government between both parties as of this writing.

The PokerStars name and company was sold by Isai’s son Mark to Amaya for the price of US $4.9 billion in 2014.