Early last week, Reuters reported that Absolute Poker founder Scott Tom has surrendered himself to authorities over his Black Friday indictment. He’s presently out on bond and expected to strike a plea deal in the near future.
The Black Friday saga has slowly been wrapping to a conclusion and there’s only one major player left to turn himself in. PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg is still at large and there’s no legitimate indication that he intends to change that in the near future.
After all that’s transpired since 2011, perhaps it is time for Scheinberg to step forward and bring this dark chapter in online poker to a close.
When Will Scheinberg Come Forth?
With Scott Tom now seeking a plea agreement, Isai Scheinberg remains the only Black Friday defendant still “at large.” As we are quickly approaching the six-year anniversary for the indictments, one has to wonder if or when Scheinberg will decide to put an end to his part in this saga.
Slowly but surely, the DOJ has racked up their victories against the defendants and received their pound of flesh from PokerStars as a company. At this point, there isn’t much more that the DOJ could get unless they want to make an example out of someone.
It is hard to see them going out of their way to try and make an example out of Scheinberg after everything that has transpired and there is an argument that he is most deserving of a “slap on the wrist” type of treatment.
PokerStars PAID For Their Actions
The one thing that everyone can point to in the months and years following Black Friday is that PokerStars is the ONLY company out there that repaid their players. The majority of players received their funds within a couple of weeks.
Let’s not forget that in addition to repaying their players, PokerStars also paid out $547 million to settle with the DOJ. Part of their agreement saw them repay ROW players and US Full Tilt players were able to file for reimbursement with the government. That money came from the $547 million paid out to the DOJ by PokerStars.
This Full Tilt repayment thing may actually be happening. pic.twitter.com/x8tmztlURo— Chris Baud (@RealChrisBaud) September 19, 2013
The bottom line is that putting Scheinberg in jail at this point would be pointless. If this were early 2012 and PokerStars hadn’t settled, then maybe an argument could be made for their wanting to make an example out of him. However, the DOJ got their settlement and there’s little to be gained by putting a near 70-year-old man in prison.
What’s in it for Scheinberg?
Perhaps the more important question is what would be the point of Scheinberg agreeing to a plea deal? Financially, he has no reason to as his stake in the company was sold in 2014.
One could argue that he cannot return to the United States without facing arrest, but that hasn’t appeared to be a concern up to this point. So what would be a valid argument to clear up the indictment?
One of the only arguments that I can present is that Scheinberg should clear up this matter so he can enjoy the fruits of his labor to their fullest extent. While there are those around the world that celebrate his accomplishments with PokerStars, there are some that cannot do so for one reason or another.
For example, as things presently stand, Scheinberg will never get into the Poker Hall of Fame without potentially stirring up controversy. With Caesars currently holding licensing in multiple regulated markets, it is near impossible for them to honor someone who is facing federal indictment.
Isai Scheinberg until he's nominated the entire thing is lame. No one has done more for poker. Not even close. https://t.co/cnXfHPDxDi— SoftwareTest (@BrianWSOP) September 21, 2016
Should Scheinberg clear up the matter, he will effectively punch his ticket into the Hall of Fame. I recently had this discussion with my editor and it’s my opinion that Scheinberg is inducted the next nomination cycle after his indictment is resolved.
I’m very interested to see how the case with Scott Tom plays out. While there are many out there that want to see the book thrown at him due to his history in the industry, the outcome of his case could directly influence what happens with Scheinberg.
Should Tom get nothing more than a fine, I think we start hearing significant rumors of a Scheinberg settlement. On the other hand, should the DOJ decide that they want to make an example of Tom; we may never see an end to Scheinberg’s indictment.
After almost six years, I think the DOJ will be more than ready to put an end this matter. They’ve got their pound of flesh, so it’s time to move on to something else. Surely, there are some laws somewhere for them to help Donald Trump break.