Bryan Micon, operator of the closed down bitcoin-fueled poker site Seals With Clubs, has been charged by the Nevada Attorney General with operating an unlicensed gambling enterprise, and faces up to ten years in prison and a US$50,000 fine. Hoping to be able to cover his legal expenses, Micon has since launched a defense fund.
It first became evident that something was amiss at Seals With Clubs in February of this year, as the site indicated it would be shutting down, which was at the time attributed to unspecified operational security concerns. Several days later, Micon uploaded a YouTube video explaining that his house in Las Vegas was raided by police, and that he and his family had fled the U.S. to the Caribbean country of Antigua. From there, he planned to launch a new poker site: SwC Poker.
It wasn't until this week that Micon was officially charged by Nevada General Attorney Adam Paul Laxalt, even though Micon's exact role at Seals With Clubs was never completely clear.
The criminal complaint reads:
“[Micon] did willfully and unlawfully, as owner, lessee, and/or employee, whether for hire or not, either solely or in conjunction with others, operate, carry on, conduct, maintain or expose for play […] an interactive gaming system without having first procured, and thereafter maintaining in effect, all federal, state, county and municipal gaming licenses required.”
In response, Micon hired the Nevada law firm Chesnoff & Schonfeld to provide him with legal defense. To help pay for this, Micon has now opened a legal defense fund on Go Fund Me.
“I maintain that I have committed no wrongdoing and have retained the legal services of Chesnoff & Schonfeld, whom I believe are the best lawyers for my case,” writes Micon on the web page of the crowdfunding campaign. “As a husband, father of a 2 year old girl, and outspoken Bitcoin advocate, I desire nothing more than to continue to be with my wife, raise my daughter, and continue to build layers on top of the Bitcoin protocol.”
Interestingly, according to Part Time Poker, Micon will probably argue that bitcoin is not the same as currency in the context of gambling law, a theory that is as of yet untested in US court. Considering his passion for the cryptographic currency, this doesn't seem unlikely.
Emphasizing his devotion towards Bitcoin while speaking to Poker News, Micon said:
"There are only very few things in this world that motivate me, and these are Golden Tee, poker, my wife, my daughter, and Bitcoin […]. Bitcoin is safe and fair for players. Even now, after what happened, players can still withdraw their money without any problems. In the past, we have seen rooms that have spent the money from their players and became insolvent — this is simply not possible with bitcoins."