PPA Granted Friend of the Court Status in Funds Seizure Case

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Poker Players Alliance

By Jennifer Newell | July 17, 2009 at 8:33 am

It was only days ago that action was finally taken in the case of online poker funds transfers that were seized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York. Account Services filed a motion with the court to retrieve approximately $13 million of seized monies, and the Poker Players Alliance hailed the action. And soon after, the PPA took its own next step to participate in the process by asking to become a “friend of the court” in the Account Services filing.

Account Services filed its motion on July 10 and contented that the seizure of the millions of dollars was unlawful, noting that poker is not considered illegal gambling under federal law and that Account Services merely held money and assisted in transfers of funds that belonged to poker players and were not subject to seizure. The action to seize the funds by Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown of the Southern District of New York was unlawful, the motion contended, and the funds should be returned to Account Services.

The PPA’s involvement in the case came when the organization filed its own motion, this one in the Southern District Court of California, to participate as amicus curiae, which would allow the PPA to become a friend of the court in the Account Services motion. And within days, Judge Jeffrey T. Miller granted the request, giving the PPA standing to file an amicus curiae brief by August 7, 2009, for the hearing to be held on August 21.

PPA Executive Director John Pappas said, “As the voice of online poker players, PPA should be granted the opportunity to provide evidence and legal briefings on why online poker is a game of predominant skill and not considered illegal gambling under the law. Recent rulings in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Kentucky and Colorado all affirmed that poker is a game of skill. PPA was actively involved in representing the rights of the poker players in each of these cases and should be able to do so at the federal level. Any action contesting the government’s seizure of players’ funds will help protect the rights of U.S. internet poker players, and we will explore every legal avenue to ensure that our members’ voices are heard and their rights are protected.”

The funds seized by the Southern District of New York affected poker players across the United States, though many of the online poker sites from which money was being transferred reimbursed players for their inconveniences. However, with more than $30 million being seized, some of which occurred without warrants, the court cases to retrieve the funds are only beginning.

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