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
U.S. iGaming Lawyer and Former True Poker Owner David Gzesh
U.S. iGaming Lawyer Brian Balsbaugh
Isai is the most intelligent & driven person I’ve ever encountered. Poker owes him. He deserves a statue, instead he’s fighting statutes. https://t.co/u0bvIM7Xbb
— Brian Balsbaugh (@Balsbaugh) January 25, 2020
Former PokerStars Security Analyst Michael Josem
Isai is a remarkable man, one of the highest integrity and most decent people I've ever known. The Isle of Man is fortunate to have had him, and I look forward to him being exoneratedhttps://t.co/46z77sCVBI
— Michael Josem (@MichaelJosem) January 25, 2020
Civil Litigator Ian J. Imrich
“There is a guerrilla war going on,” Ian Imrich, a lawyer for Full Tilt, told Forbes in 2010.
— Ian J. Imrich, Esq. (@ijiLaw) January 25, 2020
PokerFraudAlert Forum Administrator/Owner Todd Witteles
This isn't being discussed much, but Pokerstars' founder Isai Scheinberg surrendered to US authorities on Jan 17 after being indicted 9 years ago. He was released on $1m bail, and it's almost certain a plea deal is already in place. This surrender was being negotiated for months.
— Todd Witteles (@ToddWitteles) January 25, 2020
PocketFives Co-Founder Adam Small
Do you think this is going to end with exoneration? https://t.co/Q9RpeGTgjn
— Adam Small (@AdamLoebSmall) January 25, 2020
Maryland Poker Pro Christian Harder
— Christian Harder (@realcharder30) January 25, 2020
Hands of Victory Creator Kim Lund
Although I have never met Isai myself I 100% believe this to be true.
But he angle shot / cheated the market and a case can be made that it stalled regulation.
A smart play in this cynical world but nothing to be celebratee. Ppl with even more integrity suffered from it. https://t.co/t2cRuszFGE
— Kim Lund (@InfiniteEdgeKim) January 25, 2020
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.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONSIDERATION (TWITTER): @nathanvardi, @Forbes
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