United States v. Scheinberg, 10 Cr. 336 (2011), is a United States federal criminal case against the founders of the three largest online poker companies, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Cereus (Absolute Poker/Ultimatebet), and a handful of their associates, which alleges that the defendants violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and engaged in bank fraud and money laundering in order to process transfers to and from their customers. A companion civil case, United States v. PokerStars, et al., 11 Civ. 2564 (2011), includes Full Tilt and Cereus as defendants and seeks the forfeiture of approximately $3 billion in assets belonging to the companies. After the indictment was unsealed on April 15, 2011, a date quickly dubbed Black Friday by the online poker community, PokerStars and Full Tilt stopped offering real money play to their United States customers. Three years after the start of the poker boom, the U.S. Congress passed UIGEA in order to extend existing gambling laws into cyberspace. The law made processing payments for illegal online gambling a crime; however, the defendant companies remained in the U.S. market in the belief that the law did not cover poker. A former payment processor for the companies turned state's evidence after initially being charged with violating UIGEA himself. On September 20, the civil suit was amended claiming individual fraud by Messrs. Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Rafael Furst.
The U.S. Department of Justice seized the .com internet addresses of the three online gambling sites, replacing them with a takedown notice, but let Full Tilt and PokerStars use them again once they pledged to no longer serve the U.S. About 76 bank accounts in 14 countries were frozen, including an unknown amount of player funds. The prosecutors are seeking jail sentences for the 11 criminal defendants including site founders and executives, U.S. payment processors, and an executive of a small Utah bank, who prosecutors maintain were engaged in an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, using the bank in Utah to mis-code transactions with other banks to bypass UIGEA restrictions.
Antigua and Barbuda officials considered action in the World Trade Organization. The companies ceased their U.S.-facing ad campaigns, resulting in cancellations of poker-themed television shows. In June, Full Tilt had its eGambling license suspended, which halted all of its remaining online play. The Alderney Gambling Control Commission on the British Channel Islands later revoked its license on September 29.
On July 31, 2012, US government dismissed "with prejudice" all civil complaints against all PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker companies after coming to a settlement with PokerStars which includes PokerStars purchasing Full Tilt. PokerStars and Full Tilt admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which ends all litigation between the government and the poker companies. The criminal indictments remain in place for the named individuals.