The charges, coming Friday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, targeted founders of the three largest Internet poker sites operating in the U.S., PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, the DOJ said. The agency has also filed a civil money-laundering complaint, seeking the forfeiture of the assets of the poker companies and several payment processors, the agency said.
The indictment and civil complaint seek more than US$3 billion in civil money-laundering penalties and forfeiture from the poker companies and the defendants, the DOJ said.
The court has issued restraining orders against more than 75 bank accounts in 14 countries used by the poker companies and their payment processors. The DOJ has seized five domain names used by the poker companies.
PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, which both feature endorsements from professional poker players on their sites, did not immediately respond to e-mail messages requesting comments on the charges. A message on AbsolutePoker.com Friday said the by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Online gambling is prohibited in most parts of the U.S. Congress passed a bill in 2006 making it illegal for financial institutions to process payments to online gambling sites. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) made it a federal crime for gambling businesses to knowingly accept most forms of payment "in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling."