17/07/2015

Bryan Micon Agrees to Plea Deal on Gaming Charge

Ivan Potocki

Bryan Micon, the man known as the owner of the popular Bitcoin poker site Seals with Clubs, has returned to Las Vegas, Nevada, in order to face the charges against him. The professional poker player has a felony charge for illegally operating Seals with Clubs from Nevada. However, in order to avoid a possible prison sentence that could cost him 10 years of his life, Micon decided to plead guilty and have his felony reduced to a gross misdemeanour. He was sentenced to probation as well as ordered to pay a fine of $25,000.

Micon was represented by Las Vegas attorney David Chesnoff. Chesnoff is known for representing many other popular poker players including Dan Blizerian and Phil Ivey. The deal he managed to get Micon, nevertheless, included the poker player’s computers, $900 in cash and 3.0996 Bitcoins that the authorities seized from Micon’s home during the infamous raid in February. Right after the raid, the man behind Seals with Clubs moved to Antigua with his family and expressed his anger for the way he was treated by the authorities. However, he returned to Las Vegas for his Thursday’s court appearance and it was confirmed that he will stay in the United States until his probation sentence is completed.

A warrant for Micon’s arrest was issued in late April which was followed by a press conference by top gaming officials. According to court papers, Bryan Micon was operating Seals with Clubs, a Bitcoin online poker site, during the period from March 1, 2014 to February 9, 2015, without procuring and maintaining required licensees.

Such gaming charges come with a maximum penalty of 10-year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine. It was pointed out by Micon’s lawyer that in case the judge doesn’t agree for probation for the poker player, he has the option to withdraw the plea deal.

The case of Bryan Micon has attracted huge attention since the state has legalised online poker, but never regulated the Bitcoin. However, it turns out that running a Bitcoin poker site within the borders of Nevada without holding the appropriate licence is a very serious offence.

Such gray areas are always problematic for both operators and users who sometimes are not aware what they are allowed to do and what is strictly forbidden. For example, the Australian law states that an Australian casino site is making an offence by “providing interactive gambling service to customer in Australia.” However, it does not prohibit users to gamble online.

Similarly, South African and other African online casinos are not allowed to offer online gambling services such as casino, poker and bingo to citizens of one of the continent’s countries. Nevertheless, the law doesn’t prohibit online sports betting, horse racing and bookmaking. Additionally, there are no clear guidelines whether operating Bitcoin gaming sites is acceptable and how it should be regulated.

Interestingly enough, this is the first case in Nevada that marks prosecution of a poker site whose main currency was, in fact, a digital currency such as the Bitcoin. According to the affidavit for the arrest, The Gaming Control Board first found out about Seals with Clubs in August 2013 after a Belgian resident made a complaint about the poker site.

When gaming agents had an observed Skype conversation with Micon, he revealed that his poker site was earning something between $10,000 to $12,000 profit per month. Currently, Micon is released on his own recognisance, but he has another court appearance scheduled for next week.