Today marks the three year anniversary of Black Friday, a day that was immortalized for poker players by the US Department of Justice. It was April 15 2011 when the US Justice Department seized the domain names of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and other internet betting sites along with dozens of US poker player bank accounts.
The US Justice Department acted on language laid out in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which at the time was interpreted as prohibiting all methods of accepting payments for online gambling. The US attitude towards online poker is very different from Canada and other nations, where the practice is welcomed or at the very least, accepted.
The crackdown saw PokerStars seek a settlement with the Justice Department by paying a fine worth hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as exiting the US market. Full Tilt Poker, on the other hand, remained frozen by US authorities, who accused the second largest online poker room of running a Ponzi scheme to profit site administrators by defrauding players.
After over a year of negotiating with the US authorities, PokerStars successfully acquired the rights to Full Tilt Poker by agreeing to pay out its outstanding fines. The sites began structuring a process to repay US players whose Full Tilt accounts were frozen since Black Friday. Meanwhile, Full Tilt Poker was relaunched as a sister site to PokerStars, though both sites must continue to operate outside US jurisdiction.
But many states recognize that citizens will continue to play in online poker rooms regardless of the laws, adopting an approach very similar to the Canadian government. This libertarian approach to online poker has already gone live in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey with states like California, New York, and Massachusetts close to passing their own laws.
PokerStars wants to reenter the US market within licensed states, but the remnants of the Black Friday scandal continue to linger over the domain in the eye of US legislatures. Full Tilt Poker is also undergoing a new design to become the Full Tilt Casino, a fully functional online casino that includes slots, blackjack, roulette, and other table games. PokerStars will strictly remain an online poker room.