Full Tilt Poker is under the gun as a federal grand jury in Manhattan investigates the site for catering to American gamblers. Online gambling is currently illegal in the United States, though many U.S. residents gamble online anyway. Celebrity poker players Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer, who reportedly control Full Tilt Poker, also are under investigation.
“They are waging this war of intimidation,” gambling legal expert Nelson Rose told the Financial Times. “There are not a lot of good statutes, so they go after high-profile targets and try to intimidate everybody.”
Eric Jackson, a Los Angeles-based attorney representing Lederer, Ferguson and a Full Tilt-related software company, told the newspaper his clients “are not going to comment about a speculative grand jury investigation that we are not aware of.”
Full Tilt Poker is currently involved in a civil case in Los Angeles related to its U.S. activities, but Lederer and Ferguson filed a motion to have the case dismissed.
Significantly, the investigation charges Full Tilt with violations of the money laundering laws rather than relying on the Wire Act, under which previous online gaming operators were charged, or the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, whose penalties and jurisdiction have been questioned.