Looking Back at Poker Black Friday 13 Years Later

March 18, 2024
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Clinton Jacob Machoka

Thirteen years have passed since the infamous "Poker Black Friday," a day that shocked everyone in online poker. On April 15, 2011, the Department of Justice stunned the industry by taking over the domain of the biggest online poker sites in the USA, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker.

This once-in-a-lifetime event changed the online poker industry in ways none could have predicted or anticipated.

The Department of Justice's Role

With its power to implement the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, the Department of Justice was at the epicenter of the storm on Poker Black Friday.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was a component of the SAFE Port Act that prohibited online gambling-related financial transactions, thus preventing banks from handling payments to and from these sites.
The Department of Justice's moves on that fateful day came after a lengthy investigation into claims that several well-known online poker sites broke federal gaming and banking laws.

When many American online poker players tried to log in to their preferred poker site, they were met with an unpleasant message on that particular day. The notification indicated the DOJ had taken over the site, and they could not access their accounts.

The Fallout

There were far-reaching consequences as a result of Poker Black Friday. Due to the DOJ seizing the domain names of the poker sites being investigated, thousands of players could not access their money.

Online poker players were shocked by the quick changes that happened. Tournaments and cash games were canceled, and action stopped.

Legal Battles and Settlements

After the chaos of Poker Black Friday, legal battles unfolded on fronts. PokerStars and other impacted companies struggled to navigate the terrain and safeguard their interests. The poker sites had to sign agreements and pay penalties. In some instances, individuals find themselves entangled in the proceedings.

For PokerStars, the journey to redemption was lengthy and challenging. The company settled with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing to give up millions of dollars in seized funds and take over its rival's assets, Full Tilt Poker, to reimburse players owed money by the now-defunct platform.

Regulatory Changes

After Black Friday, the U.S. and other countries re-evaluated laws about online gaming. Individual states in the U.S. have taken different methods to legalize and regulate online poker, leaving the legal scene for the game extremely polarized.

Different jurisdictions worldwide implemented less flexible licensing and control systems to prevent similar problems from happening again.

The Resurgence of Online Poker

It's impressive how strong and flexible the online poker industry is, even after the losses caused by Poker Black Friday. Following the shutdown of the sites that were accused, new investors such as HighStakes Poker stepped in to meet the needs of players by providing new platforms and services.

As technology has improved, more mobile poker apps have been made available, making the game easier to play.

Lessons Learned

The events of Poker Black Friday serve as a sobering reminder of the dangers associated with the online gambling sector. Inadequate regulation and supervision may expose players to deception and financial losses.
It also highlights the game of poker's timeless appeal as a skill and strategy game that can cut across geographical and legal obstacles.

Looking Ahead

It's been thirteen years since Poker Black Friday, but the event still impacts the online poker industry. As the poker arena evolves and adjusts to new problems, one thing stays the same: the love and passion of poker players worldwide will keep the game going, no matter what problems it faces.

Q and A Section

1. What were the consequences of Poker Black Friday on online poker players in the USA?
The consequences of Poker Black Friday were significant for online poker players in the USA. Due to the Department of Justice seizing the domain names of major online poker sites, thousands of players could not access their funds, leading to canceled tournaments and halted gameplay.

2. How did PokerStars respond to the aftermath of Poker Black Friday?
They settled with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing to pay millions of dollars in seized funds. Additionally, PokerStars took over the assets of Full Tilt Poker to reimburse players owed money by the now-defunct platform.

3. What regulatory changes occurred following Poker Black Friday, and how did they impact online poker?
Following Poker Black Friday, there were significant regulatory changes regarding online gaming laws in the U.S. and globally.
These changes included re-evaluating online gaming laws and implementing less flexible licensing and control systems to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.


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