UPDATE 1-PokerStars chairman to pay $50 mln to resolve U.S. case

Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:49pm BST

(Adds statement by PokerStars spokesman)

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK, June 12 (Reuters) - The chairman of PokerStars has agreed to pay $50 million to resolve forfeiture demands by the U.S. government connected to a money laundering lawsuit the online gambling company settled last year, according to court documents.

Mark Scheinberg, chairman of the Isle of Man-based PokerStars, had continued to receive distributions for PokerStars that were subject to forfeiture, according to an order filed late on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York.

Scheinberg, who had disputed that the money was subject to forfeiture, agreed to the settlement as he "wishes to fully and finally resolve this matter," the order said.

PokerStars spokesman Eric Hollreiser said in a statement the "agreement is not in response to any action that had been brought against Mark and contains no admission of wrongdoing, culpability or guilt on his behalf."

The settlement comes on top of the $731 million PokerStars itself agreed to pay in July 2012 to settle the money laundering lawsuit, filed a year earlier by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The earlier settlement included $547 million that would be used to reimburse U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker, a rival brand that also settled at that time and that was coming under PokerStars' control.

The offshore companies operated two of the biggest websites for gamblers after a federal law banning real-money gambling on online card games was enacted in 2006 and other companies left the market.

Their success came to a halt on April 15, 2011, a day dubbed Black Friday by the industry, as federal prosecutors unveiled the civil bank fraud money-laundering suit against Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker.

The lawsuit contended the companies used fraudulent means to circumvent federal law and deceive banks into processing payments for them.

Criminal charges were also brought against the sites' founders. Former Full Tilt Poker CEO Raymond Bitar pleaded guilty in April and was ordered to pay $40 million.

The three other defendants remain at large, including Isai Scheinberg, the founder of PokerStars, and the father of Mark Scheinberg. Criminal charges were not filed against Mark Scheinberg.

The case is USA v Pokerstars, et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-02564. (Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and Matthew Lewis)