American gambling laws have some strange nuances. One such quirk is in the Illinois Loss Recovery Act 720 ILCS 5/28-1, et seq.which allows absolutely anyone to sue the winners of allegedly illegal gambling activities for the total amount lost.
Scott Crespo, a resident of Florida, has never played online poker against Andy “BKice” Seth, Benjamin “Chong94” LeFew, Faraz “The-Toilet” Jaka, Mohsin “chicagocards1” Charania, Ravi “govshark2” Raghavan, nor Tyler “puffinmypurp” Reiman. These are professional poker players who have frequented online poker rooms such as Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker, and Bodog Poker. Collectively, these players have won over $14 million from online events and over $4.3 million from live events. They are also the founders of a group called PokerHaus which has a website and is physically based at the University of Illinois.
This group lies at the core of Crespo’s complaint filed October 12th at the US Northern District Court of Illinois. Somehow Crespo and his attorney Mark Lavery came to the conclusion that not all these winnings were honest.
The plaintiffs assert has been colluding and otherwise cheating during games of online poker. Moreover, they allege the group has somehow abused real estate or property in order to gamble. Not least, they contend the group actively sought other people to participate in their unlawful gaming enterprise. Crespo now seeks to recover thrice what this group won during 700 online tournaments.
It is not known what evidence, if any, Crespo has to support the allegations of collusion or cheating, which would be hard enough to prove if the players had been sitting around the table. Yet the legal complaint asserts that several poker programs may have been used, such as Poker Crusher, Poker Bot Pro, and Pocket Aces.
The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), which seeks to promote and protect both offline and online poker in the US, has reached out to some accused players offering legal support. The PPA’s Kentucky State Director, Rich Muny stated “I have spoken with one of the defendants and we have discussed the issue at the highest levels within the PPA. It’s something we take very seriously.”
In a worst case scenario, this law could become a strong deterrent against online poker in Illinois as anyone who wins even just $50 could be forced to pay triple damages, either to the loser or anyone else with a lawyer.