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Five years ago the online poker world changed forever. In the early afternoon of April 15, 2011 the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments against executives from the three largest online poker operators in the world, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker/UB, and some of the payment processors that served them. Within minutes of the indictments being unsealed the poker world learned the news as DOJ seizure notices appeared on all three websites. Word spread quickly throughout the poker community on Twitter. Today, on the fifth anniversary of Black Friday, PocketFives looks back at some of the tweets from that day. Just one week before April 15, Howard Lederer, one of the top Full Tilt Poker executives, was getting ready to head overseas to spend time with U.S. troops. He was on that trip when news broke about the indictments. Sebok was ultimately proven to be wrong about UB - on many fronts - and quietly left the poker world later in 2011 and now works in Silicon Valley. Black Friday changed online poker in the United States forever. The optimism that once ruled the day for federal regulation of the game in the United States is all but gone and players are left hoping that their state regulates the game. So far, only three states have done so; Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. While other states appear to be considering the idea, many hurdles remain. After leaving the U.S. market on April 15, 2011, PokerStars returned to the U.S. - in just New Jersey - on March 21, 2016.
Nearly nine years after the United States federal government charged him with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling, PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg has surrendered to U.S. authorities. According to a Forbes.com article, Scheinberg travelled from Switzerland to New York City on Friday, January 17 and was met by federal agents who took him into custody. According to the article, this was the culmination of negotiations between Scheinberg, 73, and the U.S. government which began when an extradition order was sought after Scheinberg travelled to Switzerland months earlier. Scheinberg founded PokerStars in 2001. Following the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, PokerStars continued to accept American customers and soared to become the largest online poker site in the world. On April 15, 2011 the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York seized the PokerStars.com domain name and charged Scheinberg and other executives from Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. PokerStars eventually re-acquired the domain name and continued to operate outside of the United States. In 2012, the company paid the U.S. government $731 million to settle a civil lawsuit the government had brought against the company. As part of that settlement, PokerStars acquired the assets of Full Tilt Poker and provided the government with $184 million to go towards making American Full Tilt players whole following the company's collapse in the wake of Black Friday. Scheinberg sold the company to a group lead by David Baazov in 2014 for $4.9 billion. According to Forbes, federal prosecutor Olga Zverovich told a hearing on Wednesday that Scheinberg had been negotiating with the government for some time. “We have an agreement in principle on the basic terms,” Zverovich said. Scheinberg is the last of those charged on Black Friday to face a judge in the United States. Scheinberg plead not guilty and was released on a $1 million bail. He also surrendered his passports.