Online Poker, Real Fraud

The United States Attorney Office for the Southern District of New York received a flurry of attention in April, 2011 when they unsealed an indictment against the three largest Internet poker companies in the United States—Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars—for fraud, gambling and money laundering.  Today, the USAO upped the ante with an amended complaint alleging that Full Tilt Poker was a global Ponzi Scheme whose board had enriched its owners by taking more than $440 million dollars in funds deposited by online gamblers for their own use.

Online poker games typically work by requiring a gambler to log in to either a web site or by running a program on their computer which establishes the connection for them.  In addition, the web site or software can allow the gambler to transfer funds to the poker company.

While some online casino sites and their gambling software do comply with the letter of US gambling laws, creating online gambling software that is “technically” safe and secure in that it contains no malicious code, properly encrypts all network traffic and so forth, an offshore enterprise—especially one that does not adhere to U.S. gambling laws—may not.  ESET typically classifies online casinos’ gambling software as either a Potentially Unwanted Application or as a Potentially Unsafe Application.  The Potentially Unwanted Application classification can occur if it is the type of software that someone may not wish to have installed on their computer, such as a parent who might not want their child using such software.  In other cases, a classification of Potentially Unsafe Application may be given because the software is distributed by malware or drive-by installs via web browser and is used to fund pay-per-install or rogue affiliate marketing networking scams.  For more information, please see our recent white paper, Problematic, Unloved and Argumentative: What is a potentially unwanted application? [PDF].


Aryeh Goretsky, MVP, ZCSE
Distinguished Researcher

Author Aryeh Goretsky, ESET

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