Filing A Claim For Frozen Online Poker Funds
The Poker Player’s Alliance (PPA) is an American nonprofit organization “to speak with one voice to promote the game and and protect the right to play poker in all its forms.” Among recent PPA efforts includes coverage of the Department of Justice’s seizure of three offshore online casinos back in April and the freezing of funds held in player’s accounts on the sites.
The PPA has a legal team, and recently posted a legal guide regarding players’ funds entitled “Legal Rights of Players with Unpaid Account Balances: A PPA Information Guide.” On page 5, the PPA states:
Third-party claims filed in civil forfeiture proceedings must be filed within 60 days of the Government’s first publication of notice of intent to seek forfeiture. With respect to the April 15th cases, the government’s notice was first published on May 16, 2011, and so the deadline to file claims is July 15, 2011.
I am not an expert of civil forfeiture proceedings. I cannot comment on likelihood of success, and am not recommending whether or not a poker player with frozen funds should or should not file a claim. It is clear that what’s best for one player may very well be different for another. As stated several times in the PPA guide, one should consult an attorney to consider particular facts and circumstances. I. Nelson Rose, professor of gaming law, also recommends such.
Both the PPA guide and Mr. Rose mention possible tax-related issues that may arise from filing a claim. I’ll note that the Department of Justice very likely already has access to names of poker players who frequented the seized sites. Furthermore, the IRS is already involved to some extent with the DOJ’s crackdown on offshore online gambling.
That said, a poker player who files a legal claim for seized funds may stick out to authorities. Social security numbers, home addresses, etc., would suddenly become far more easily accessible to the DOJ, IRS, and state tax agencies. In addition, according to the PPA legal guide, an individual who files such claim is subject to questioning under oath “very shortly” after the claim is filed. Answers to these questions could be held against the individual in future proceedings.
The bottom line here: Tread carefully.