la cosa nostra online pokerNow Mafia?

The ever imaginative UIGEA Federal Prosecutor filed court papers which link an American online casinos and poker mogul (indicted on Black Friday) to the Italian Mafia.

On Friday, November 4, in an insightful and somewhat bizarre 51 page rebuttal filed in Manhattan Federal Court, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors for the first time revealed the official position of the Obama administration on the UIGEA – (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006), and much more.

According to the latest casino gambling news, the court filing came as an official response to a defense motion to dismiss all charges against the banker (John Campos) and an alleged owner of a payment processor (Chad Ellie) indicted during April’s assault on online poker – known as Black Friday.

Prosecutor Argues That Poker Is Identical to Sports Betting

The US Government’s position is that poker is a game of chance, where skill only plays a marginal role on the outcome. (As was reported yesterday in: Prosecutor Shocks Court – USA Online Poker Game of Chance Not Skill). The US Attorney contends that poker falls into a class of house/banker games which have been traditionally considered gambling, such as betting on sports, and lists a number of (what they believe) are similarities between sports betting and online poker.

The government argues since when gamblers visit bookies to place their bets on a sporting event (bookies…I wonder where this is going…), the gamblers who have expert knowledge of sports teams and memorized sports player stats, will do better than gamblers taking a stab in the dark when picking the winner.

The US Government contends that poker operates under the same principles as sports betting, and memorizing the EV, odds, and trends is no different than memorizing if a pitcher throws better on warm or cold days in an attempt to predict future behavior.

Interstate sports betting is currently illegal in the United States, with only a handful of states allowing licensed bookmakers for state residents. The prosecutor, at this point in the 51 page rebuttal, reminds the court that the US Federal Wire Act of 1961, the law which made bookies and sports betting transactions between states illegal, was created specifically to fight the Mafia.

On a side note, we recommend Party Poker for all your online poker needs.

Prosecutor Hints at Association between Online Poker and Italian Mafia

Last, but definitely not least, in the US government’s merciless vilification of online poker, is the section in the rebuttal to the court which alludes to a broad working relationship between online poker and organized crime – specifically with La Cosa Nostra ,the Italian Mafia itself.

All the talk about bookies, betting on sports, and the original purpose of the Wire Act were just the opening act, the introduction to the Mafia entrée.

Yes, The Five Italian Mafia Families are deeply connected with online poker at the highest of levels so don’t dismiss any charges – the undertone and the structure of the report seem to want to assure the judge. The government lists one example of alleged cooperation and association which may possibly show a link between the alleged owner of one of the three online poker websites indicted on Black Friday and the Italian mafia.

The DOJ alleges that a few years earlier, Mr. Chad Ellie (indicted owner of a payment processor) was accused by his client, Mr. Isai Scheinber (the Poker Stars founder who was also indicted on Black Friday) of stealing $4 million dollars. Mr. Chad Ellie allegedly transferring the $4 million without permission, from a Bank of California poker processing account to his personal numbered Swiss Bank account. At this point, according to the DOJ, an alleged La Cosa Nostra associate became involved and supposedly gave Mr. Ellie an offer that ‘he couldn’t refuse’ on behalf of [someone with an interest in seeing the money returned, the report states]. A portion of the money was recovered.

… and delivered to the boss of bosses … the mafia puppet master of online poker himself, who was unmasked as – Phil Ivey* – the only African-American capo in the Italian Mafia!

  • * Yes, that’s a joke. Phil Ivey is neither an Italian, nor a mafia capo and wasn’t mentioned, or even hinted at in the government report.
  • Mr. Chad Ellie and Mr. Isai Scheinberg are 100% innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and everything written here is neither fact nor truth and should never be accepted, believed or read as such. The statements above are just unproven accusation made by the prosecution to the court in a pre-trial rebuttal motion.
  • In previous cases, the federal government has used the term ‘Mafia Associate’ to describe a number of individuals who have no criminal association with the Mafia – doorman, waiter, a dentist and anyone with a prior arrest record. The government is ready to play dirty, which is surprising with such strong pro-legalization political atmosphere.
  • Editor: We analyzed and attempted to interpret these allegations in order to provide the world of American online poker with an idea of the tactics and strategy used by the US government in the initial stages of the Black Friday prosecutions.
    On a personal note, I am surprised there were no Al Qaida associates thrown in. I believe that online poker is being portrayed unfairly and smeared by the prosecution as though it were the heart of darkness and the playground of all the evil of the 21st century.