Isai Scheinberg

Isai Scheinberg Surrenders to U.S. Authorities: Poker World Reacts

Former PokerStars owner Isai Scheinberg has surrendered to authorities in connection with the site’s pre-Black Friday U.S. operations. Veteran online poker players and fans are reacting.

On January 24th, news broke that former PokerStars owner Isai Scheinberg had voluntarily surrendered to federal agents in New York, to face criminal charges stemming from the company’s presence within the U.S. market between 2007-2011.

Scheinberg — who founded PokerStars in the early 2000s and sold the company in 2014 to then-Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion — has been released on $1 million bail upon pleading Not Guilty earlier this month, according to Forbes.

NEWS: Former PokerStars Owner Surrenders to Federal Agents (Nathan Vardi – Forbes – Jan 24, 2020)

Poker World Reacts to Isai Scheinberg Arrest

The Forbes article caught many longtime poker players, industry representatives, and fans by surprise Friday evening. Some have posted their thoughts to Twitter and/or to the TwoPlusTwo NVG board.

TwoPlusTwo Forum Administrator/Owner Mason Malmuth

Mason Malmuth - Isai Scheinberg

U.S. iGaming Lawyer and Former True Poker Owner David Gzesh

David Gzesh reacts to Isai Scheinberg surrender

U.S. iGaming Lawyer Brian Balsbaugh

Former PokerStars Security Analyst Michael Josem

Civil Litigator Ian J. Imrich

PokerFraudAlert Forum Administrator/Owner Todd Witteles

PocketFives Co-Founder Adam Small

Maryland Poker Pro Christian Harder

Hands of Victory Creator Kim Lund


Turning the Page for U.S. Online Gambling (Commentary)

* All commentary belongs solely to the author unless otherwise specified.

For anyone who played frequently on PokerStars and involved themselves in the online poker community before June 2014 (when the company was sold), Isai Scheinberg is a name that is synonymous with quality.

Isai Scheinberg’s knack for granting high profile and/or for-profit poker players an opportunity to broaden their professional horizons, for creating a clear market leader, and for maintaining poker as a stand-alone product helped turn pre-Black Friday PokerStars into a legitimate public relations machine.

But the money to do that was arguably illegally siphoned from American citizens throughout the 2000s and especially subsequent to the 2006 UIGEA — as PokerStars along with Full Tilt Poker and Ultimate Bet/Absolute Poker (CEREUS Network) — chose to continue serving U.S. customers despite numerous warnings from federal lawmakers.

Now that the plug has been completely pulled from the old-school “VIP Rewards” program (and now that the practice of awarding net-withdrawing players with cash-based incentives that outpace those of net-depositing players has been theorized to be unsustainable), the modern-day combo online poker/iGaming market faces significant challenges in convincing eligible individuals to gamble online.

Add to that break-neck regulations that are being created to ensure such online gaming business models aren’t allowed to proliferate going forward, and it might be easier to comprehend why PokerStars ownership has (at least in the past) promoted the idea of enacting a commercial “clawback” against Isai Scheinberg to pay for ongoing civil liabilities associated with the site’s U.S. facing operations leading up to April 2011.


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