The alleged operator of bitcoin-powered poker site Seals with Clubs is reportedly returning to Nevada this week to face charges.
According to Las Vegas Review-Journal, Bryan Micon fled to Antigua after gaming agents raided his home. He has been charged with operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system, the first such charges in Nevada for an operation based solely on bitcoin. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, although a plea deal is reportedly in the works.
Court records said that Micon operated Seals with Clubs between March 1, 2014 and February 9, 2015 “without first procuring and thereafter maintaining in effect the required licenses.”
In late April, a warrant was issued for Micon’s arrest, but it was recently recalled by the judge, allowing him to travel freely to this Thursday’s hearing.
A staunch Bitcoin enthusiast, he previously stated that he has done nothing unethical. He has launched a legal defense campaign on crowdfunding site GoFundMe, which has gathered $4,005 out of a sought $100,000 to date. He writes:
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“As a husband, father of a 2 year old girl, & 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.”
Nevada’s Gaming Control Board first became aware of Seals with Clubs in August 2013, when a Belgian resident lodged a complaint about the site. Gaming agents surveilled skype conversions during which Micon allegedly claimed the site earns $10,000 to $12,000 monthly. They also conducted surveillance on his home and learned from his social media accounts that he referred to himself as “chairman” of Seals with Clubs.
After the site was shut down earlier this year, he reportedly redirected users to SwCPoker.eu, reassuring users that their bitcoins are safe because “math does not bow to guns.”
He also attempted, unsuccessfully, to acquire another site, Lock Poker, according to court documents. He told the prospective seller in a skype chat:
“You can give me a quick google and see that I started SealsWithClubs.eu in 2011 and amassed a considerable wealth with the increase in Bitcoin price. I plan to relaunch the brand and make all players whole.”
The site reportedly collapsed in April, taking with it an estimated $15 million in unpaid player funds.