In what prosecutors called the first of its kind prosecution in Nevada, on Tuesday, Clark County District Court Judge Kerry Earley sentenced Bryan Micon, a Las Vegas professional gambler and former operator of “Seals with Clubs,” a bitcoin online poker site, to up to two years of probation and a $25,000 fine.
The sentence and fine were handed down after Micon plead guilty to illegal gambling charges stemming from raids on his Nevada family home in February and was formally charged with operating an unlicensed interactive gambling system in April. As expected, the sentence includes the forfeiture of certain items that were seized by police during the April raid, including electronic equipment, cash and BTC. The sentence follows a deal with Nevada prosecutors which included a June plea bargain and a guilty plea which was entered in July.
Within days of the raid Seals with Clubs was shut down and [b][i]Micon fled to Antigua with his family[/b][/i] where he launched a new poker site, SwCPoker.eu. He returned to the U.S. in June to face the music and was made to surrender 3.0996 in bitcoin credits, $900 more in cash and more than six computers.
When asked, Micon told the judge that he understood he could have received up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of $50,000, and that any violation of the terms of his sentence could lead to up to 2½ years in state prison. Upon successful completion of his probation the felony charge would be reduced to a misdemeanor. According to Micon’s attorney, Richard Schonfeld, after serving out his probation in Nevada, Micon plans on permanently relocating to Antigua where a job in the technology office of a newspaper is waiting for him.
While bitcoin gambling itself isn’t illegal, operating a poker room in Las Vegas without a license is. No government backs bitcoin currency, which enables Internet transactions without the need for a bank and according to authorities provides anonymity and a method for illegal drug sales and money laundering. Making it unique, Micon’s case was the first prosecution of its kind in Nevada since its April 2013 launch of its regulated online poker market. It was also the first time a Bitcoin-only online gambling site was prosecuted in the U.S. on a state level.