The co-founder of Absolute Poker Scott Tom has pled guilty to a gambling-related misdemeanor charge in connection with the Black Friday case initiated six years ago. The charges against Tom are with regards to Absolute Poker offering gambling services to U.S. residents illegally between 2007 and 2009 after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) came into force.
Charges levied by the U.S. Department of Justice included conspiracy to violate UIGEA, violation of the UIGEA as well as operating an illegal gambling business.
Each of these charges individually carries a potential penalty of five years max jail time as well as a $250,000 fine.
Tom has pled guilty to the charge of transmitting gambling information interstate and was later released on a $500,000 bond. According to a media report, Tom was able to come to an agreement with U.S. Southern District of New York prosecutors regarding his charges on May 31 but the deal was filed in court only last week. The sentencing hearing would be held on Sept. 28 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses.
Scott Tom who until recently had been living in Antigua decided to come back to U.S. in late February this year to face the charges pending against him. Antigua has no extradition treaty with the United States. According to court documents, Absolute Poker netted revenue of nearly $500 million from American players and around $60 million of player money was lost when the site was shut down in 2011 after Black Friday.
With this settlement, Tom has become the tenth of the total eleven individuals cited as defendants in the infamous 2011 Black Friday case to reach a deal with U.S. prosecutors.
Tom's step-brother Brent Beckley was also one of those charged in the case. He however pled guilty to criminal charges early on and received a sentence that included 14 months in jail along with a hefty fine. He served 10 months in a Colorado work camp before being released.
Industry observers feel that the sentencing for Tom might not be so severe.
In a statement Haley Hintze Contributing Editor for online industry publication Flushdraw said
Scott Tom’s probable escape from a lengthy jail term is implied by the language of the plea agreement, but a significant fine is likely involved. The primary reason Tom is likely to avoid harsher punishment is that the SDNY charges based on the 2006 UIGEA are legally focused on the U.S. banking system.