The decade long Black Friday saga has almost come to a close as PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg has pleaded guilty to charges of running an illegal gambling business in a New York federal court.
On Wednesday, the 73-year old PokerStars founder Scheinberg pled guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business. Scheinberg now faces up to a maximum five years in prison.
Geoffrey S Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: “Ten years ago, this office charged 11 defendants who operated, or provided fraudulent payment processing services to, three of the largest online poker companies then operating in the United States – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker – with operating illegal gambling businesses and other crimes.“
This comes two months after Scheinberg, who is a dual citizen of Canada and Israel, surrendered to U.S. authorities. He was released on $1 million bail after initially pleading not guilty to all charges.
Scheinberg was one of the 11 executives of major online poker rooms charged with money laundering and illegal gambling by the US Department of Justice in April 2011 on what is known as “Black Friday.” He was the last of 11 defendants to have pleaded guilty. All 11 defendants charged on Black Friday, including the likes of Raymond Bitar, Scott Tom, Brent Beckley, Nelson Burtnick, Paul Tate, Ryan Lang, Bradley Franzen, Ira Rubin, Chad Elie and John Campos, have now pleaded guilty, with 10 of them already sentenced.
Scheinberg founded PokerStars in 2001 and grew the company into the world’s largest online poker platform. After Black Friday, the company went on to operate outside of the United States and finally settled a civil lawsuit with the U.S. government by paying as much as $731 million penalty. After a deal, he stepped away from running the company and sold it to Amaya for $4.9 billion in 2014.
Despite legal troubles, Scheinberg remains a beloved figure in the poker world. He has worked really hard and is regarded as a critical figure in the explosion of online poker over the past 20 years.