It was more than 5 years ago when the online gambling industry was rocked to its core by the US Department of Justice. April 15, 2011 – a day forever known as Black Friday – saw the DOJ unseal indictments against 11 individuals in connection with three of the world’s largest online poker sites, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.
Since then, eight of the men charged by U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara of Manhattan – facing multiple counts of misconduct, including some rather severe accusations like bank fraud, money laundering and operating an illegal online gambling business – have finalized their cases with the New York District Court. As of yesterday, another is well on his way to doing so.
In a story first broke by Forbes’ Fortune.com, it was revealed that formerPokerStars employee Paul Tate has pled guilty to one charge of operating an online gambling business.
The 42 year old Brit, the former Director of Payments for the world’s largest online poker room, appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses on Thursday, donning glasses and a modish gray suit. Mr. Tate expressed an admission of guilt and what seemed to be genuine regret for his actions.
““My family and I have paid a heavy price for this conduct,” said Tate in an emotional display of repent.
The charge Mr. Tate pled guilty to carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. Whether Judge Moses buys into the sincerity of the defendant’s plea could have an impact on how much time he actually sends behind bars.
5 Years Of Deception Worth 5 Years In Prison?
Working against Mr. Tate is the timeline in which he was involved with PokerStars. He was hired to perform technical duties within the online poker site’s payment processing department in 2006 – the same year the US government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that prohibits financial institutions from facilitating payments with illegal online gambling operators.
Over the years, the Englishman worked his way high in the ranks, earning the position of PokerStar’s Director of Payment Processing. His tenure with the company continued right up through 2011, when the indictments against him and 10 others were unsealed.
According to prosecutors, Mr. Tate played an instrumental role in the operation’s ability to circumvent the law, using deceptive practices to convince US banks and credit card companies to facilitate payments for the online poker business, for five long years.
Paul Tate will appear in New York District Court again on November 21, 2016 for sentencing.
No Blood On PokerStars Hands
In a statement from Canada-based Amaya Gaming, parent of PokerStars, the company reiterated its innocence in all charges related to Black Friday. Amaya didn’t even purchase PokerStars until 2014.
Prior to that, the former owner settled its case with the DOJ in 2012, claiming no wrong doing. PokerStars agreed to pay $731 million in the settlement – enough to appease US Attorney Baharra, plus cover repayment of all American player accounts associated with the bankrupt Full Tilt Poker, acquiring the FTP brand in the process.