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Founder of PokerStars Isai Scheinberg Pleads Guilty to Black Friday Charge

Tags: Black Friday, Full Tilt Poker, Isai Scheinberg, PokerStars.
Posted on 26 March 2020 by "T".

Two months after being back to federal custody, Isai Scheinberg, the founder of PokerStars, pled guilty in a New York federal court on March 25 Wednesday to running an illegal online poker site.

Black Friday, in the poker world, refers to the events of April 15, 2011 when the U.S. Department of Justice issued an indictment against the three biggest online poker sites in the country: Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars.

The last of those to face federal justice was 73-year-old Israeli-Canadian Isai Scheinberg.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said, "Ten years ago, this Office charged 11 defendants who operated, or provided fraudulent payment processing services to, three of the largest online poker companies then operating in the United States - PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker - with operating illegal gambling businesses and other crimes. As Isai Scheinberg's guilty plea today shows, the passage of time will not undermine this Office's commitment to holding accountable individuals who violate U.S. law."

The End of Black Friday Saga Imminent
This guilty plea from Scheinberg now comes nearly 10 years after the crackdown on illegal online poker sites, or what's simply called Black Friday, had completely changed the world of poker.

Scheinberg said to the court that he knew his company was operating in defiance of U.S. law, but for some unstated reason, chose to continue operating his extremely profitable business. He and 10 other executives of other major online poker rooms where charged with illegal gambling, money laundering and bank fraud.

After Black Friday, Scheinberg was in hiding while the rest of the identified 10 defendants in the case appeared, one by one, in federal court and pleaded guilty.

When Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker were despised for not giving back the unspent money from their players' accounts, PokerStars made a deal with the government that they will pay back $184 million in player liabilities. Scheinberg was recognized as a hero by the poker community due to this bailout gesture. As part of the deal, he then stepped down from running the company and ultimately sold it for $4.9 billion to Amaya Gaming Group's David Baazov in 2014.

After many years hiding from the U.S. authorities, Scheinberg surrendered and was arrested last year in Switzerland. He was extradited to the U.S. in January.

Sentencing Scheinberg
Initially, Scheinberg pleaded not guilty and posted $1 million for bail, but it looks like he reached a deal with the government.

Scheinberg faces a maximum of five years in prison and is scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. The date of sentencing is yet to be determined.

It is expected that Scheinberg will serve less than that. Despite the tough talk of the U.S. attorney, the thing is, most of the 11 defendants in this case served relatively short sentences, if they served any at all.

Anyway, Scheinberg's sentencing will finally signal the end of the Black Friday saga, the most infamous time in online poker history.



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23 comments on "Founder of PokerStars Isai Scheinberg Pleads Guilty to Black Friday Charge"

 dule-vu26/03/2020 14:33:33 GMT
after so many years,dont know is there point of this,especially for man who have 73 years and who know will he be alive when this pass!probably he will be less then this 5 years in prison,so maybe he will have time to enjoy in life and to spend this money that he have from sold to amay group!
 crankmuppet26/03/2020 19:54:38 GMT
Nine years to resolve the charges against him.

As the article points out, the other "criminals" served short sentences so we can assume he will as well. The rich get away with quite a lot and the poor stiffs get the max sentences.

I'll bet he had a wonderful time for the last 6 years on the lam with his 9 billion.

 maragatero26/03/2020 20:59:34 GMT
Yes, this was a really long story, with some of Faity Tales! With armor knights, dragoons and many, many treasures, it was hard to make a deal between mobsters. I bet that, if this guy finnally writes a book, it will be our headline book! And BRM might write the preface (introduction)!!! hahaha. Can you think how was that negotiation? In nine years, how much money had to run?
 CALICUL26/03/2020 23:23:14 GMT
This means that Pokerstars was not so fair and legal, as it was in property of this man with Israeli citizenship. His illegalities prove this ugly things and because of him a lot of players didn't play in those rooms anymore. I don't think that he will be convicted and he will escape quickly.
 3pokeronly27/03/2020 00:37:07 GMT
Most of the "ol time" poker dens in the south of the USA were illegal, the good ones were fair, to conflate and assume that any illegalities is unfair or any legal operations is fair is a little ignorant of the way people work. The illegal operations often try to keep thing as straight as possible to stop (or mitigate/reduce) any complaints, while "legal" operations can charge $20 for a drink and force you to but three for a chance to see one or two pairs of boobs.

3p out
 antonis32127/03/2020 01:49:19 GMT
He's very old to go to prison Smile But most of all .... Isn't he very very rich guy ? I don't believe he's going to serve any sentence , any jail time . He'll pay the US government some millions and that's all , everything 's fine . he'll get back his passport and go back home . No other severe penelty , at least for multimillionaires or billionaires Blink . He has enough moneu to pay any fine , or get some of the billions he gave to his son , lol . Anyway , the other persons who were also accused I don't remember them to have served any jail time , only fines , if I remember correctly .
 maragatero28/03/2020 00:57:34 GMT
I might say that he still paying millions to a lot of chieff and intermediates whom keep free and safe like the past nine year. This is a chapter of his tale, but not the end. He will makes another legal deal with other judge or other court and he will get another lapse of nine or more year. He can die invict and full of money, he know what are the doors that he have to hit
 antonis32128/03/2020 02:13:54 GMT
Anyway , I don't believe he personally , or the company he used to have and run then , Pokerstars , did sth wrong so as to punish them severely . If the US government didn't want online pokerrooms , it would throw them out of the US market the same day or one month after they voted for this UIGEA stupid unfair law , not wait some years and deal with them later . Even the scandal of Full Tilt was not Scheinberg's fault , he had nothing to do with them , on the contrary he paid all Full Tilt , US and everyone else , customers , he bought Full Tilt domain and site , he paid millions to US goverment , he stepped back voluntarily or forced from Pokerstars satisfying the USA government ...

What else do they want from him ?? It's really silly , this story is over , release him and let us all forget this Black Friday , their bad actors or whatever , the ponzi schemes , everything bad that happenned then . Re-legalise online poker in the USA in all states and everyhting will be all right Smile
 dule-vu29/03/2020 18:09:32 GMT
for america most important in this case is to get big amount from this man and not take him in jail!they will have much more benefits from his money,then to have him in jail for few years and to bet there for free!with lot of millions they can make something and everybody will knewt what can happen if you take money from people!
 maragatero30/03/2020 01:42:15 GMT
You have the reason dule-vu, here in my country says that, in some people and societies, the pocket is the most sensitive organ! and I think that there it´s like that. This man only need time and he can buy a lot of it. You have to think that he had not yet covered all the procedural steps and the instances that the legal system allows. So all this is nothing but a 'deal'
 CALICUL30/03/2020 09:20:26 GMT
Normal people cannot make agreements when they break the law but for millionaires or billionaires this thing is possible.Here the discrimination is very clear and money is power... This man will not suffer too much, because he has many years to receive a big punishment. Money also means luck.
 dule-vu30/03/2020 18:38:45 GMT
when they need 10 years to make some decision,there is something strange,but if you ask me,best thing is to take lot of money from him,because you have nothing from him to go in jail for 2 or 3 years and to die there,but if you take 200 or 300 millions,you can make something from it or to give people that really need this money!
 antonis32130/03/2020 19:16:55 GMT
It's almost a certainty to me , that they will make one more deal with him , take some more hundreds of millions from him , and then take back all the charges and accusations and release him . He must also have some powerfull frieds , so he' ll be fine . Actually , even those from this Black Friday scandal , with no such power , weren't punished hard and severely all these years , will they show now to this rich man all their aggressiveness and vengefulness ?? i really don't think so . They'd better deal with bigger problems , like the ones they caused to so many Americans by illegalizing online poker , find a better way to make it legal once more in all USA , that would be optimal .
 Pistolpaid31/03/2020 09:31:08 GMT
Ten years to make a decision???? How bout the amount of money that went into the us justice system that we as citizens had to pay in federal tax.... i mean in all reality they guy created something that would keep most of the poker players at home behind their computer/phone instead of out running around chasing casino poker rooms. Or what other crazy endeavors a man who likes to play poker. He created the best babysitter known to the human race that would keep us home safe from the Thrills of the night life, from gettting robbed, or commit adultery if he’s married...... and now with it being the year 2020 and the corona virus would help with quarantine process.... they need to re legalize the online poker for ALL states... and take advantage of the lucrative tax earnings they would get instead of trying to find another way to take out money 👍✌️
 CALICUL31/03/2020 12:05:54 GMT
10 years for decisions because he is rich... Trump can do this, but at this point he is interested to do other things and to win a new mandate of President of the United States of America. Taxes can be collected very quickly if he decides to let all US states to play online.
 dule-vu31/03/2020 18:55:37 GMT
probably in america as on some other parts of world,you can buy time when you are rich,even we know that in america court work fast,but in this case when he payed 1 $ for bail,they it was easy for him to be at home!for me best option is now to take money from him and to invest in something!they have nothing from him to be in jail in his age!
 antonis32131/03/2020 23:40:26 GMT
This is a nice example to use , when you want to refer to a fake event , a set up by a government or the system , just for the eyes of the people or the newspapers . '' They arrested a billionaire , he faces charges and punishment , also jail time " , amusing phrase , good example of fake news , . They arrested a billionaire : this IS actually a joke . Many times I have the fear they don't arrest billionaires even if there is the suspicion he might have killed someone . Arrest a billionaire and put him in jail for 2 years , 5 years , 10 years ??? . I wonder how many cases there are in the world ?? If there are , I guess in order to count them , the fingers of my left hand should be enough .....

Anyway , this arrest is set up . They have made a deal behind the doors , so this is a show , the conclusion of the ''Black Friday'' black comedy , only for R believers , a well planned theatrical show to hurt online poker for the interests of well known billionaires , their true motivation of those shows then was clear to the insiders and the deep thinkers ..

As I said , he didn't do anything so as to be accused and punished , cut the cr** and relegalise poker in the USA . These times of crisis you see the real value of online poker (and also I would say all internet Smile )
 dule-vu01/04/2020 19:22:04 GMT
well ofcourse this isnt same as somebody rich kill other person in car accident or something like that and just because of money he can skip jail or to get small punishment!but in this case there isnt such a big problem,if players got money back or if this men pay big amount and that everybody are happy!so for me best thing to give him big amount to pay,he will stay at home and die in few years and end of story!
 antonis32104/04/2020 07:22:32 GMT
He won't even stay at home , with an electronic tag to watch him and restrict severely most or even all of his outdoor activities Smile He'll be free , no punishment , free to go wherever he desires . The fate of the very rich men is more rights and much more freedom than everyone else , also less or no punishment , as long as they have powerhouse alliances , as long as they get along well with others of their status Smile
As I said , it's all for the show , the last act , the last episodes of this ''BLlack Friday '' Saga , which took away some of the freedom of the Americans to bet and use their money wherever they desired . Always restrictions , always shows for the eyes and ears of the poor and the weak people , to manipulate them ....
 CALICUL04/04/2020 17:08:22 GMT
In this case, if there is the possibility that the major games from the past of this poker room will be investigated i suppose he would get a higher sentence. I saw a lot of weird things there because i watching many professional tables with criminal rivers...
 Mober04/04/2020 18:59:53 GMT
The whole thing reaching at the end point according to this.
I dont see it getting jail time.
Probably some fine and then he will be out.
No matter what black friday has changed the poker world since then.
Cant say though it has changed for the better for the players.
There is a higher amount of insurance now playing in an online site, but still
less promotions, and of course less greerolls Smile
 CALICUL05/04/2020 17:52:07 GMT
I don't think Black Friday has changed things for the better because after that all players from United States of America, France, Spain and Italy they were blocked to play with the rest of the world. There is a great chance to make money but without them we lost high chances.
 antonis32106/04/2020 10:14:13 GMT
Yes Calicul , things are still worse , despite some improvement or developments in regulations since then . Still many restrictions , and many regulated countries cannot join larger players' pools to increase the prises and the interst for the game , such as in France . Only domestically or in very small regional pools , like twi three neighbour countries , like in South western europe .

Anyway , better for the US government to try to find ways to bring poker again in the USA , all states, fix the mess they created then , and not keep on chewing the same gum , this Black friday witch hunt has to end , leave Scheinberg alone and cut the cr***

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