The poker world is not likely to forget “Black Friday” in April of 2011 when the American federal authorities shut down three poker sites that were offering online poker to players in the United States. The sites involved in the federal crackdown were Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars. They were accused of operating illegally in the United States by continuing to offer online poker to American players.
After the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act came into being most operators pulled out of the online poker market in the United States but some continued to operate until their domain names were seized in 2011. Ray Bitar was the Chief Executive Officer of Full Tilt Poker.Full Tilt was one of the world’s largest poker sites. In 2011 along with eleven others Ray Bitar was charged with online gambling offences, money laundering and fraud. He could have faced up to 65 years in jail if found guilty of these charges. He avoided being arrested by staying in Ireland where some of Full Tilt’s operations were based. However, last year Bitar returned to the United States of his own accord and was arrested when he landed in New York. At the time he issued an apology for the fact that Full Tilt owed players about 350 million dollars.
Until recently there was no mention of Ray Bitar’s serious health problems. At the moment the 41 year old Chief Executive Officer of Full Tilt Poker is in California where he is waiting for a heart transplant. His lawyer has stated that due to the serious nature of Bitar’s illness that a deal has been struck with prosecutors regarding the charges against him. It is not known yet what effect the deal will have on his time in jail if found guilty.The United States attorney prosecuting Bitar has claimed that Full Tilt was not a real poker site but rather that it was a “Ponzi scheme”. It appears that those indicted are accused of lining their own pockets from players’ accounts over several years. Some even put the estimate of the stolen money at over 1 billion dollars. Several of those accused alongside Ray Bitar are still on the run from the United States Authorities. It remains to be seen what the details of Bitar’s deal are.