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Online poker payment processor settles with U.S. Feds for $13m

Federal prosecutors continue to go after financial processors in their attempts to stifle online poker, reports Forbes Business, revealing that the authorities reached a settlement worth $13.3 million Tuesday with Ahmad Khawaja, together with his firms, Allied Wallet and Allied Systems.

The settlement brings to a close a year-long issue that began when the FBI seized the $13.3 million in June 2009.

Officials alleged that the funds constituted proceeds of operating an illegal gambling business that were deposited between January 2009 and May 2009 in an account at Goldwater Bank in Scottsdale, Arizona. Those funds were traceable to PokerStars, the world's biggest online poker firm, and other offshore online gambling companies, and include "proceeds of the illegal transmission of gambling information and operating an illegal gambling business," court documents reveal.

Forbes reports that the funds were linked to allegations of money laundering by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, with some of them traceable to wire transfers from outside the U.S. by individuals who knew that the funds represented the proceeds of the illegal transmission of gambling.

Isle of Man-based PokerStars issued a statement following the settlement in which it said: "PokerStars does not condone efforts by processors to conceal the nature or purpose of funds used to play online poker. PokerStars has taken steps to ensure that processors properly disclose the nature of their business to their relevant financial institutions."

Forbes notes that PokerStars has long maintained that it offers for-money online poker play to U.S. players in accordance with legal opinions from several U.S. law firms that state it is not violating U.S. law.

"Department of Justice officials have for years taken the position that facilitating for-money online poker violates U.S. law, making no distinction between online sports betting - clearly illegal - and online poker playing. Still, the fact that prosecutors have not moved directly against the online operators has suggested to some that the government's position is weak," the publication observes.

Despite the UIGEA, PokerStars continues to dominate the U.S. market for online poker, making it the world's biggest online gambling firm, with estimated annual revenue of $1.4 billion and some $500 million in profits.

Source: InfoPowa News

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