Bryan Micon, the former chairman of the Seals with Clubs (SwC) Bitcoin poker network, has been formally charged by the Nevada Attorney General’s Office on one count of operating an unlicensed online poker site.
The charge comes with a possible penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.
In February, SwC suddenly went offline as the network told its Twitter followers the site had experienced a “hardware failure,” but nine days later it was revealed the card room was ceasing all operations due to threats to its “operation security” that put the site into a “perpetual state of jeopardy.”
Micon later revealed that his home in Las Vegas had been raided by 10 agents, saying he was put in handcuffs and served a warrant from the Nevada Gaming Commission.
“It’s unclear what happened,” Micon said in a YouTube video statement regarding the events in February. “The system is, of course, very secure and has thwarted hacking attempts in the past, so it’s unclear to me what, from a technical perspective, exactly went down, but the rest of Seals with Clubs management quit.”
Following the raid on his home, Micon uprooted his family and moved to the gambling-friendly island of Antigua where he’s currently running SwCPoker.eu.
Adam Laxalt, attorney general of Nevada, believes he has sufficient evidence to prove Micon was operating an Internet gaming service without a license in his state, citing a felony statute in court documents.Â
Micon responded to the accusations through his defense attorney Richard Schonfeld who told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “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.”
Though Micon wasn’t charged with any wrongdoing in February, Las Vegas Justice Court Judge Joseph S. Sciscento has now issued a $20,000 arrest warrant. While Antigua is part of Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, it would seem highly unlikely that the country would take steps to aid in Micon’s arrest.
“I didn’t really want my two-year-old daughter, whom I love very much, to grow up in a police state, where creativity is often met with guns and handcuffs,” Micon said in late February. Antigua remains a primary location for online gambling companies and was one of the first nations to legalize, license, and regulate iGaming.
Of course, online gambling is also legal in Nevada, assuming the provider has acquired the proper licensing and approval from the Gaming Control Board. That’s where Laxalt and Sciscento believe Micon broke the law.
As was the case with Seals with Clubs, SwCPoker only accepts Bitcoin, the decentralized anonymous digital currency that was once valued at more than $1,000 per BTC but now hovers around $230.
Bitcoin’s innovative structure that doesn’t require the backing of a governmental agency appealed to international gamblers, but unfortunately it’s also become a preferred currency for the black market.
Micon’s future is just as uncertain as Bitcoin’s. Though many financial experts believe Bitcoin’s demise will continue, billionaire entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson will host a digital currency summit at his private Necker Island next month to discuss its outlook.