A petition to ban Howard Lederer from playing poker at the Aria casino in Las Vegas is being circulated among regular cash game players who have threatened to boycott the poker room if Lederer is allowed to continue playing.
Led by Nick DiVella, a frequent Aria player who was also a mainstay at Full Tilt prior to Black Friday, the petition cites the fact that Lederer "knowingly conspired to commit acts of fraud and money laundering with regards to Full Tilt online poker players money."
Lederer, of course, is one of the former owners of the site who remained silent for roughly 1 and 1/2 years following Black Friday before participating in a media interview tour in an effort to distance himself from Full Tilt's mismanagement and temporary demise.
Lederer's explanation about how the Full Tilt saga unfolded did not win sympathy from poker players. "The Professor" decided to put an end to the interviews prior to a scheduled session with DiamondFlush, citing considerable stress on himself and his family.
Lederer has been playing in cash games at a number of Las Vegas casinos, including the Bellagio. His most recent sighting was last Sunday in Aria's Ivey Room. There were reports of death threats made to the casinos via phone calls when Lederer made his return to the tables last month. That prompted both casinos to increase security.
A manager at Aria's poker room, Leon Wheeler, said that he knew some players did not take kindly to Lederer playing, but was unaware of a petition, according to pokerfuse. Wheeler did admit that Lederer's presence creates a safety issue, most notably for Lederer himself.
“We haven’t taken a stance on (banning Lederer),” Wheeler said. That decision would come from higher up in the casino's executive offices.
DiVella and others believe that Lederer should not be allowed to play while U.S. players have still not been reunited with their funds from Full Tilt. While non-U.S. players received $184 million upon the site's relaunch Nov. 6, American players have a long wait ahead. A meeting last Tuesday between Poker Players Alliance and DoJ officials revealed the bad news of a prolonged remission process.
“He doesn’t deserve to play,” DiVella said on Twitter. “Maybe this will be the start of a poker black list.” Divella hopes that a successful ban at Aria will result in other casinos following suit and blocking Lederer from playing in poker rooms throughout Nevada.
Casinos have the authority to prohibit individuals from entering the premises. Most of those cases involve improper conduct and known cheaters or blackjack card counters. A ban of a poker player who has, as of yet, not been found guilty of any wrongdoing, would apparently be a first.
“We believe the casino has a moral and ethical obligation to bar Howard Lederer from playing in the poker room and should Aria casino fail to take immediate action we, the poker playing community, will be forced to boycott the poker room,” the petition states.
The DoJ is attempting to seize more than $40 million in assets from the two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. Lederer has stated that the DoJ has frozen bank accounts in his name in the civil action and that he needs to get back to his livelihood.
DiVella hopes fellow players will refuse to play with Lederer until U.S. players are made whole. “From the response I have gotten so far, it seems like it [the petition] will be a huge success,” he tweeted.