Bryan Micon is about to make online poker history, but not for what he hoped. On Monday, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that Micon was charged by the state of Nevada with one count of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system. This is a Class B felony in Nevada and could land Micon in jail for up to 10 years.
This is the first time since online poker was legalized in the state that regulators have levied charges against an unlicensed online poker provider. Micon operated the popular Seals With Clubs Bitcoin online poker site from his home in Las Vegas until it was raided on February 11. Micon soon after fled the country and reopened the site.
Operated Nearly a Year Unlicensed
According to the complaint, Micon operated Seals With Clubs from March 1, 2014 through February 9, 2015 and did so without obtaining the proper licenses. An arrest warrant has also been issued. According to Nevada online poker regulations, online poker sites must be partnered with a brick and mortar casino and go through a discovery process like new licensees.
When Micon’s home was raided back in February, the warrant issued accused him of violating Nevada Revised Statues NRS 463.750(10b) and NRS 463.160(1a). In layman’s terms, these Statues prohibit a person from operating an online poker site unless they acquire all the relevant licenses required by law.
Micon Fled to Antigua and Reopened
Following his arrest on February 11, Micon took his family and fled to Antigua. He was quoted as saying in a video interview following the raid, “After I was led out in handcuffs in my underwear, it was pretty clear that it was proper to leave sooner rather than later. And I didn’t really want my 2-year-old daughter, whom I love very much, to grow up in a police state where creativity is often met with guns, handcuffs.”
Following the move to Antigua, Micon reopened the site as SwC Poker.
Please visit sealswithclubs.eu now for information.— SealsWithClubs (@SealsWithClubs) February 20, 2015
Micon continues to contend that he doesn’t believe he did anything unethical despite not going through licensing procedures in Nevada.
Micon Facing 10 Years in Prison Plus $50,000 Fine
Since Micon is facing a Class B felony in Nevada, he is looking at up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $50,000. According to his defense attorney Richard Schonfeld, “Bryan has always maintained that he committed no wrongdoing, but I’m not in a position to comment on the Attorney General’s filing because I haven’t seen it.”
On the surface, this looks like a minor infraction by a site that doesn’t have any history of wrongdoing. Other sites such as Lock Poker have walked away owing players literally million but will likely never face their day in court.
Only a few days left to withdraw any balance from @SealsWithClubs Please tell anyone you know to withdraw ASAP— Bryan Micon (@BryanMicon) April 22, 2015
It is possible that Micon is being used as an example by the Nevada AG in order to prove to the rest of the nation that they are serious on cracking down on unregulated gambling. While Micon claims he didn’t do anything unethical, he did violate Nevada gaming regulations and it is a violation that they cannot overlook if they want to continue to be an example to the rest of the nation on how to regulate online poker.