After fleeing to Antigua following a raid on his Las Vegas home for operating Bitcoin poker site Seals With Clubs without a license, Bryan Micon will reportedly return to Nevada and appear in court on the matter this Thursday.
Micon faces 10 years in jail and a $50,000 fine on the allegation, the first such prosecution related to a Bitcoin-friendly poker site. Seals With Clubs accepted players worldwide, but dealt only in Bitcoin – not U.S. currency. The case may have legal ramifications for years to come regarding what licenses may be required for poker rooms or gaming sites that accept crypto-currency but do not accept American dollars.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that remains unregulated. Its value fluctuates based on a number of factors that include its perceived value and speculation on whether its acceptance will become mainstream, among other reasons. The value of one Bitcoin reached as high as $1,240 in late December of 2013. It is currently trading at roughly $287.
Seals With Clubs broke new ground by offering online poker in Bitcoin. And it appears that even newer ground will be covered by the case after lawyers for both sides are done presenting their arguments on what crime Micon or may not have committed.
Nevada gaming regulators and law enforcement forced Seals With Clubs offline in February. Micon packed up and moved his family overseas, opening a new Bitcoin poker site called SwCPoker. That poker room has failed to attract the same number of players as the first, leading to speculation that players have stayed away due to the fear of another possible shutdown.
No players were left unpaid at Seals With Clubs, as all were promptly made whole.
Micon did not face arrest until after he arrived in Antigua. The raid on his home took place in February and a warrant for his arrest was not issued until April. That arrest warrant has since been recalled, as Micon’s attorney informed the authorities that his client will appear in court voluntarily, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
After learning of the case lodged against him in Nevada, Micon established a GoFundMe account online in hopes of receiving donations that would go toward fighting the allegation. The poker-playing public failed to rally behind the innovative poker operator, reaching into their pockets for only $4,000 – a far cry from the goal of $100,000. That GoFundMe account was stopped by site operators shortly after being established for reasons unclear.
The case against Micon has the potential to drag on indefinitely, depending on whether or not he is prepared to fight the charge to a conclusion and perhaps establish a precedent in online poker and gambling and virtual currency. Or he can likely accept a slap on the wrist plea deal that would probably be a few thousand dollars with the promise to never operate such a poker site from Nevada.[isGeoAllowed]
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