For those that thought the US crackdown on online poker would end at PokerStars, Full Tilt and the Cereus Poker Network, think again. Breaking news from Maryland indicates that three individuals affiliated with two online gaming companies are being indicted on charges of conducting an illegal gambling business and money laundering.
Monday the Department of Justice issued a statement announcing that Darren Wright and David Parchomchuk of BetEd and Ann Marie Puig of BMX Entertainment are being charged in two separate indictments. As part of the indictments, the Department of Justice seized 11 bank accounts located in Charlotte, North Carolina, Guam, Panama, Malta, Portugal, and the Netherlands as well as ten domain names. The domain names in question include a couple of recognizable sites, most notably DoylesRoom.com. Here is the complete list of domains seized:
Bookmaker.com, 2Betsdi.com, Funtimebingo.com. Goldenarchcasino.com, Truepoker.com, Betmaker.com, Betgrandesports.com, Doylesroom.com, Betehorse.com, and Beted.com.
The US Attorney for the District of Maryland, the IRS, and the Department of Homeland Security were all involved in building the case against online gaming software company ThrillX (DBA BetEd) and online payment processing company BMX Entertainment.
The investigation into the activities of the two companies included a sting operation in which the Department of Homeland Security set up a fake payment processing company called Linwood Payment Solutions. The company processed payments throughout 2009 both to and from the online poker sites. According to the affidavit, Linwood processed over $33 million in payments over the course of more than 300,000 transactions.
“It is illegal for internet gambling enterprises to do business in Maryland, regardless of where the website operator is located,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “We cannot allow foreign website operators to flout the law simply because their headquarters are based outside the country.”
Within the sworn affidavit from M. Lisa Ward, Special Agent for the Homeland Security Office, the companies are accused of violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), Maryland State law, and federal laws regarding money laundering.
The affidavit also states that Linwood did business with Absolute Poker and UB Poker in addition to the sites named in this indictment. The Linwood company also signed a series of contracts with online gaming sites represented by K23 Financial Services, aka BMX Entertainment. That contract included doing business with True Poker and DoylesRoom as well as seven other sites named in the indictment. The Beted.com contract is separate from Linwood’s business dealings with BMX, which helps explain why it is included in a separate indictment.
Puig is the owner of BMX Entertainment and the only individual named in that indictment. The second indictment naming Wright and Parchomcuk is in relation to alleged illegal operations of Beted.com.
The government is seeking the forfeiture of the bank accounts and domain names named in the indictment. As of press time, all but two of the sites named in the case were not accessible within the United States. DoylesRoom and BetEHorse’s sites were still accessible. Though the site bears his name, Doyle Brunson severed ties with Doyle’s Room earlier this month.
In somewhat related news, the Associated Press reported earlier today that Bradley Franzen, one of the 11 individuals named in the 4/15 indictment against the big three poker sites as well as a number of payment processors, plead guilty to lesser charges in a Manhattan court today in exchange for testimony against some of the other individuals named in the case.