Isai Scheinberg Pleads Guilty in US Federal Court

Isai Scheinberg

PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg has entered a guilty plea on a federal gambling charge. This plea comes after an arrest in Switzerland last year, followed by extradition to the United States.

Many of you may know about the details around Black Friday in the United States. We aren’t talking about the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, we are referring to the day the US Department of Justice shut down online poker in America.

On April 15, 2011, the US Department of Justice indicted 11 individuals and three of the world’s top online poker sites for various violations of gambling laws. After almost a decade, the book has finally been shut as the last of those indicted have now been convicted.

Isai Scheinberg Pleas Guilty to Federal Gambling Charge

On Wednesday, PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg entered a guilty plea in a federal court in New York. According to a press release from the US Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York, the plea was to running an unlawful gambling business.

Back in 2011, Scheinberg was among 11 defendants facing multiple violations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Scheinberg had been facing multiple charges, including violations of the Federal Wire Act, wire fraud, and operating an illegal online business.

Over the years, 10 of the 11 people indicted have been convicted. Almost all avoided jail time. Scheinberg is facing up to five years in prison but it is likely that he will also avoid jail time. Instead, he will likely face a steep fine.

How Did the DOJ Finally Catch Scheinberg?

Since 2011, Scheinberg has successfully evaded capture by US authorities. However, it appears that he made a tactical error last June. He traveled to Switzerland and Swiss authorities quickly arrested him over pending charges in the United States.

In October, the DOJ requested that Switzerland extradite him to the United States. Initially, Scheinberg appealed the order. However, on January 17, he dropped the appeal and went to New York where he surrendered. He was later released on a $1 million bond. Scheinberg has to surrender his passport and his movements within the United States were restricted.

Some speculation claims that Scheinberg and his lawyers were in negotiations with the DOJ since June and once they came to an arrangement, he came back to the United States. Regardless, the matter will soon be concluded.

Black Friday Saga Finally Concluded

The Black Friday saga has effectively ended with the conviction of Isai Scheinberg. The results from Black Friday changed the poker world as we know it. Absolute Poker, UB, and Full Tilt Poker all shut down as a result of Black Friday and it took years for players to get their funds returned.

PokerStars was the only website indicted that survived. Their handling of matters surrounding Black Friday earned them the trust and respect of the industry. PokerStars was forced to pull out of the United States, and later they also pulled out of Australia when Australian online gambling was effectively banned.

Also, the majority of poker sites operating in the United States shut down. The only sites still operating are ones like Americas Cardroom and Ignition Poker, but they are considered unregulated sites. The only online casinos legal in the United States are in states where online gambling is legal. Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware are the only states with legal online casinos presently in operation.

Australia had its own version of Black Friday, but it involved a mass pullout of online casino companies from the region. While there are several Australian online casinos in operation, none operate in the country. With any luck, laws will soon change in Australia to allow companies like PokerStars to return to the region and give Aussies access to the best online poker in the world.