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PokerStars Founder Isai Scheinberg Pleads Guilty

George Miller

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PokerStars Founder Isai Scheinberg Pleads Guilty
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Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ISAI SCHEINBERG, the founder and former executive of PokerStars, an online poker company, pled guilty  to running a multimillion-dollar unlawful internet gambling business.  SCHEINBERG pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. 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.”

As alleged in the Indictment filed in March 2011 in Manhattan federal court, PokerStars was founded in approximately 2001, with headquarters in the Isle of Man.  PokerStars offered online poker games to players around the world, including in New York, New York.  SCHEINBERG was PokerStars’ founder and principal.  On October 13, 2006, the United States enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (“UIGEA”), making it a federal crime for gambling businesses to “knowingly accept” most forms of payment “in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling.”  With the enactment of UIGEA, leading internet gambling businesses – including the leading internet poker company doing business in the United States at that time – terminated their United States operations.  However, PokerStars, along with Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, continued illegally to make internet poker available to U.S. customers through March 2011.  

In pleading guilty, SCHEINBERG admitted that he knew operating a business that offered internet poker to New Yorkers violated state law, and that it was the clear position of the U.S. government that offering online poker in the United States violated federal law.  Nonetheless, Scheinberg decided to continue running his multimillion-dollar online poker business in the United States.

SCHEINBERG, 73, a dual Canadian and Israeli national, was arrested in Switzerland on June 7, 2019, based on the U.S. charges.  In early October 2019, SCHEINBERG was ordered to be extradited to the United States by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, a decision he initially appealed.  SCHEINBERG subsequently withdrew his appeal and surrendered to U.S. federal agents on January 17, 2020.  He was arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker on the same day.

 

Source: justice.gov

Asia

Kazakh President Signs Amendments to Law on Gambling Industry

Niji Narayan

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Kazakh President Signs Amendments to Law on Gambling Industry
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Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has signed the law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Gambling.” Bookmakers will be moved to Kapshagay and Schuchinsk gambling zones.

Earlier it was reported that the government of Kazakhstan wanted to create three new game zones in the country, however, deputies of the Parliament abandoned this idea and excluded this rule from the draft law. Now all bookmakers will be moved to the two existing gaming zones – Kapshagay and Schuchinsk.

In order to have information about the players, they will create a unified betting centre in the country and the player’s relatives will be able to limit the right to place bets appealing to court. All bets received by the bookmaker in cash or through electronic payment systems should be accounted in a single monitoring centre.

A single accounting of all payments received by the bookmakers will eliminate the shadow turnover, increase tax collection and simplify control. A database of players will contribute to the introduction of universal declaration, the introduction of a procedure for limiting and self-restricting a client from betting and will also strengthen measures to fight money laundering related to crime and the financing of terrorism.

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Compliance Updates

Pariplay Receives ISO/IEC 27001 Certification for Information Security Management

Niji Narayan

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Pariplay Receives ISO/IEC 27001 Certification for Information Security Management
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Online casino games provider Pariplay Ltd has received ISO/IEC 27001 certification for its Information Security Management System (ISMS). ISO/IEC 27001 is an information security standard published by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

This latest company milestone will enable Pariplay to continue their global expansion into regulated markets and to provide their extensive portfolio of engaging games to more operators. One such region where Pariplay will be making its debut is in Switzerland, a highly lucrative and prestigious market that uses the ISO certification as their regulation benchmark.

Establishing partnerships with a new base of operators in Switzerland will allow Pariplay to provide access to a repertoire of over 100 inhouse developed casino games, including its latest Spin N’Hit and Stallion Fortunes, as well as extremely popular titles like Wolf Riches and Dragons of the North.

“This accreditation acknowledges our unwavering commitment to compliance and security across our global operations, while also allowing us to continue to expand our reach into newly regulated markets, including Switzerland. We’re very excited at the possibilities this presents as more players get to experience our thrilling games and cutting-edge services, furthering our 2020 strategy of branching out into newly regulated markets on a truly global scale,” Adrian Bailey, MD of Pariplay, said.

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Compliance Updates

UK House of Lords Calls for Urgent Regulation of Loot Boxes

Niji Narayan

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UK House of Lords Calls for Urgent Regulation of Loot Boxes
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The House of Lords Gambling Committee has urged the UK government to classify video game loot boxes as “games of chance.” The recommendation came as part of a wide-ranging report in which the committee suggested a number of changes to the gaming industry.

“If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling. The government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation,” the report says.

Loot boxes have long been controversial in video games. They offer players a chance at a randomised reward when opened. To further complicate matters, boxes can often be bought for real money, and the rewards can sometimes be traded.

Lord Grade, chairman of the committee, said that lots of other countries have already started to regulate loot boxes because “they can see the dangers” which is teaching “kids to gamble.”

He said the Gambling Act was “way behind what was actually happening in the market” but he added that the “overwhelming majority” of the report’s recommendations “could be enacted today” as they do not require legislation.

The Lords report is wide-ranging, covering the entire gambling industry, but focuses in part on new forms of gambling, and those targeted towards children.

“There is academic research which proves that there is a connection, though not necessarily a causal link, between loot box spending and problem gambling,” it says.

The Lords report concludes that ministers should make new regulations which explicitly state that loot boxes are games of chance. It also says the same definition should apply to any other in-game item paid for with real money, such as FIFA player packs.

The government told the committee that its planned future review of the Gambling Act would focus on loot boxes. But the Lords report warns: “This issue requires more urgent attention.”

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