Seals with Clubs (SwC) was the most popular Bitcoin poker site on the Internet. That was true right up until February 11, when the site went offline due to what was originally described as a technical issue.
That was expected to be resolved in a matter of hours, but the site never came back online. On February 20, a new message went up on the SwC website, announcing that the site was shutting down for good.
“Effective immediately, SealsWithClubs will cease providing Bitcoin poker and will be shutting down all operations except to allow player funds to be withdrawn for a limited period of time,” the message to “loyal players” read. “SealsWithClubs is, and has been, completely solvent up to this point in operations.”
Still, the message asked players to withdraw all funds “as soon as possible,” and gave vague hints that something serious was going on behind the scenes that had impacted the site.
“On approximately February 11th, 2015, several events occurred related to operational security that we consider to indicate SealsWithClubs now operates in a perpetual state of jeopardy,” the message read. “We will not divulge details publicly, but they may come to light if any team member chooses to come forward of their own volition at a later date.”
Some of those details have since come out. It appears that the home of SwC Chairman Bryan Micon was raided on the morning of February 11 by law enforcement officers acting on a warrant from the Nevada Gaming Commission. In comments made in an interview with PokerNews, Micon said he was stunned by the raid.
“It has been a big violation of my personal freedom,” Micon said. “Even if the State wanted to take action against me…a raid like that one was completely unnecessary. It’s easy to tell that I am not the kind of person that you need a raid like that for.”
Micon says that he was with his wife and their two-year-old daughter at the time of the raid. He now says that he and his family have fled to Antigua. Micon says that he still doesn’t entirely understand why he was targeted by authorities.
“I was not formally charged with any crime,” Micon said. “The agents served me a warrant from the Nevada Gambling Commission, but I am not a lawyer and I don’t understand a lot of what’s in it.”
It would be easy to connect this raid with the technical issues that took down SwC around the same time. However, while Micon agrees that the timing is suspicious, he hasn’t been able to make a connection between the two occurrences himself.
“It’s true, there have been some irregularities with our server that coincided exactly with the time that my front door was broken down, and it seems too unlikely for these things to not be connected,” Micon said. “Right now, however, it’s simply impossible to understand what exactly happened.”
After the raid, most of the SwC ownership team voted in favor of shutting down operators rather than allowing than trying to resurrect the site. Micon wanted to continue operating the site from Antigua, and while the rest of the former ownership says they cannot make guarantees about his effort, they’re willing to let him take the reins from here on out.
“As the majority ownership & team will not go forward with operations but Micon is still in a position to do so, it makes the most sense to hand off assets to Micon in order to enable him to provide to our players the best Bitcoin poker experience he can,” read the message on the SwC website.