Black Friday and the ramifications from that time still have repercussions today. Several major players in the online poker industry have served jail time and/or paid massive fines for their involvement and the industry in the United States has never recovered. But what happened to the man who “blew the whistle” and essentially brought down online poker as we knew it in the United States?
According to the Queensland Courier Mail in an article entitled “Whiz Kid Proves That Crime Can Pay,” Daniel Tzvetkoff (pictured), the internet entrepreneur who was responsible for processing many of the payments made by PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and UB prior to the Black Friday shutdown, is now back in Australia and living “the high life” in a $2.5 million mansion on the Gold Coast.
In addition to living the good life “Down Under,” Tzvetkoff doesn’t appear to have any travel restrictions, having trekked to Barcelona, Bali, and the Barossa Valley over the past year on pleasure trips. From all appearances, he has been able to reconnect to those in the business community he’s worked with before and has dived back into internet technologies.
Not only has Tzvetkoff been able to purchase an extravagant mansion, but his entire family has apparently joined him. Along with that property, his parents “bought” four other properties surrounding Tzvetkoff over the past 18 months, with their total value being $1.75 million. These properties are highly fortified, according to the Courier Mail, and surrounded by security cameras.
It is a surprising turnaround for the man who was responsible for taking down the US online poker industry. As the founder and owner of the payment processing company Intabill, Tzvetkoff was responsible for online transactions for hundreds of companies around the world. The most profitable enterprise, however, was Intabill’s processing of online gambling transactions for several of the largest online poker companies.
Things began to go south in 2009, though, when Intabill started having difficulties and reneged on millions of dollars in transactions to and from those gaming companies.
Allegedly, the online poker companies – in particular Full Tilt Poker – caught wind that Tzvetkoff was coming to the United States and tipped off authorities. In 2010, federal agents arrested Tzvetkoff in Las Vegas on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business. The story doesn’t end there, however.
Facing the threat of massive fines and, perhaps more importantly, up to 75 years in prison, Tzvetkoff instead began to sing to federal investigators. Much of the information that made up the 2011 Black Friday indictments against the major players in the online gaming and poker industry came from Tzvetkoff personally, where he explained how the rooms circumvented the banking laws in the United States and, in particular, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
Based on Tzvetkoff’s extensive information and evidence, more than a billion dollars in fines were collected by the US Government and several people went to prison for their actions or paid hefty fines and sacrificed personal property in settling their cases.
As for Tzvetkoff, he was released after being the whistleblowing informant that the government needed, but he didn’t get away scot-free. Tzvetkoff was fined $13 million and, after he paid it, he returned to Australia. After his return to Oz, Tzvetkoff filed for bankruptcy in 2013, but that hasn’t prevented him from living lavishly, traveling extensively, and getting back in the business game.
The Courier Mail reports that Tzvetkoff had a 40% stake in an advertising company in Brisbane that reportedly changed its name following Tzvetkoff’s divestiture of his ownership stake. He allegedly registered a business name under the flag of Singapore and has gotten back into business with several prominent Australians he previously worked with. He has also maintained his relationship with the public relations company that supported him during his days at Intabill.