Scheinberg Pleads Guilty And UK Gaming Companies Warned Not To Be Greedy

It has been a relatively quiet week for any news not coronavirus-related as you would expect, but we have put together some of the biggest industry stories to keep you up-to-date on what is going on, including the final chapter of the Black Friday saga…

By: Andrew Burnett

PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg pleads guilty to Back Friday charges

PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg was in court in the USA this week to finally confront the Black Friday UIGEA charges that have been hanging over him since 2011.

Scheinberg is the last of 11 defendants to face up to charges of ‘operating illegal gambling businesses and other crimes’ on the back of the 2006 UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act).

Scheinberg pleaded guilty this week to ‘one count of operating an illegal gambling business’ according to a US DOJ press release, for which he could in theory be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail.

Much more likely is a far lesser sentence, Scheinberg cooperating with the authorities previously in a massive settlement that included covering the majority of Full Tilt Poker’s player fund liabilities.

Scheinberg had initially challenged the extradition proceedings in Switzerland launched by the US earlier this year, but decided to voluntarily face the US court, almost certainly because on the back a behind-closed-doors deal with US justice officials.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said of this week’s proceedings: "As Isai Scheinberg’s guilty plea today shows, the passage of time will not undermine this Office’s commitment to holding accountable individuals who violate U.S. law.”

Scheinberg will be sentenced by United States District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan on a date to be determined.

Don’t be greedy during coronavirus boom say UK regulators

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has warned online gaming companies not to get greedy during the boom caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes on the back of our story earlier this week that saw politicians asking companies to limit players to a £50 per day betting cap.

UKGC chief executive Neil McArthur said: “We expect you to be very mindful that customers may be vulnerable and experiencing financial uncertainty, whilst others may be experiencing other effects of being isolated including, for example, feelings of anxiety, loneliness or boredom.”

The gaming landscape itself is undergoing serious changes due to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, bricks and mortar casinos asking for government help while online companies have seen a massive hike in player numbers.

His press release this week also stated: “Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling has always been a major priority. We are very mindful – as you should be – of the fact that the risks of harm arising from online gambling have increased as a result of recent events.”

Australia finally locks down casino industry

Australia has finally shut its casino doors after the government ordered all non-essential services to be shutdown, with many scheduled tournaments now postponed or cancelled.

Operators had been trying to lessen the impact of the coronavirus on casinos by implementing their own social distancing rules – closing every second slot machine and limiting numbers at table games.

Those measures had been described as “a minimum,” by Philip Russo, president of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control, who told the Guardian newspaper: “It will likely slow down spread, but more stringent social distancing would have a greater effect.”

That decision was taken out of their hands this week as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a nationwide lockdown similar to that seen in other countries.

The Australian Poker Tour has cancelled its APT Sydney event scheduled for next month and several popular pub poker leagues also announced a halt to their activities.

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