Las Vegas, NV
This just in... but according to a friend of mine in San Jose, Costa Rica... the OIJ, aka the Costa Rican version of the FBI, raided the offices of PokerStars this morning. They sent all of the workers home.
I've seen enough episodes of Law and Order to assume that the Costa Rican FBI are combing through files to eventually hand over to the DOJ.
There's also a report (thanks to @KevMath for the assist) from @Ckrafcik that the offices of UB/Absolute were also raided... that is, what is left of the company after it got gutted the other day when 95% of their staff were given the proverbial boot out the front door earlier in the week amidst rumors of bankruptcy, before they re-hired 20% of their employees to maintain a skeleton staff and save face after a huge PR shitstorm that fell their way when word got out that almost everyone was axed.
Stay tuned for more info as my sources in Costa Rica report back to me.
I talked to another friend in Costa Rica who works for a major online sportsbook, and he said, "No raids in the sportsbooks. We're bulletproof. Business as usual here. Who do you want to bet in the NBA tonight?"
Mucho gracias to my network of sources in Costa Rica. Next time I'm in San Jose, I'm buying everyone dinner. Please keep the intel coming. And special thanks to Kevin Mathers who has been assisting me with 2+2 links, etc...
11:25pm PT... Thanks to KevMath for pointing out this post from PokerStars VIP manager. It appeared in this thread titled Costa Rica OIJ Raids Pokerstars/AP/UB Offices in Costa Rica.
11:35pm... According to my source in San Jose, "Stars got raided because UB and AP fucked it up and are not paying their employees. So (federales) are afraid Stars will do the same thing."
11:42pm... Another trusted source with a decade of online gaming experience reminded me that Stars has all of their main offices on the Isle of Man and Costa Rica only houses their support team. The story on the street is that the OIJ was concerned that Stars was going to terminate (without pay) the support staff. According to local news reports, they are reporting a raid on UB offices, but haven't mentioned PokerStars.
11:49pm... From my man on the street in San Jose: "UB is driving all the attention (in local press) because the legal representative here was the mayoral candidate for Escazu."
11:52pm... From another source in Costa Rica: "The OIJ is looking for UB owners Scott and Brent and this guy Olman Rimola. They raided Rimola's house with no luck. They went to Scott's house, but he wasn't there. Reporters suggested he left the country a while ago."
11:57pm... From my original source: "They (OIJ) don't want anyone from Poker Stars. This is actually good for PokerStars because they are not in trouble here, like with you gringos in America. This is like damage control for them."
12:05pm... From my man on the street in San Jose: "The police raided Rimola's mother's house too, without any luck."
12:09pm... From @KevMath on twitter... here's video of the raid. FYI...that news report is the source of the photo in this post.
12:14pm... From an industry insider in Costa Rica: "I know Paul Leggett... he is a douche. Rimola is fighting for the UB employees so he doesn't get any bad press and don't want any trouble with the (Costa Rican) government."
12:17pm... A quote from a different source at a sportsbook in Costa Rica: "The UB employees went to the "Ministry of Work" because they were afraid of not getting paid by (Paul Leggett)." So, I'm assuming that the OIJ raid is a result of that complaint."
1:11pm... From a source in San Jose: "The police left PokerStars offices. They were there for no more than an hour or two."
1:25pm... You have to wonder if the raids were made for TV? From a source: "This might have been started because of an investigative reporter Greivin Moya, who makes these kind of sensationalist reports on TV. This has been going on for a week now. Moya's reports always ends with raids or video of the OIJ raiding something. He thinks he is the judge too."
1:35pm... From my sportsbook guy: "Every fucking year there are new stories about sportsbooks in Costa Rica and about the (online gaming) industry, and they cant take us down because (they) give a lot of jobs to the Costa Rican economy."
1:40pm... Here's a thread from @KevMath in which he discusses a potential sale of AP/UB's non-US market share. As KevMath explained the "apparent deal was terminated, alleges US balances paying off non-US withdrawals." More here: Can we discuss Cereus specifically?
1:45pm... Phone is ringing, it's Marco. Going live on Quad Jacks Radio now...
2:15pm... Thanks to Marco and Wombat Nation for having me on.
2:22pm... My sportsbook source said: "Just heard you on Quad Jacks. Good job. I'll let you have the Lakers +2.5 but nothing larger than 2 dimes."
2:30pm... Listen to this podcast with former OIJ member who said the raids were spearheaded by the FBI and Interpol. The OIJ went into the raids under some sort of "fraud" or procedures on credit card transactions, which is why they seized servers and computers.
Breaking News.... Raid on PokerStars Offices an Accident??
7:30pm... According to trusted Tao of Poker sources in Costa Rica, today's raid executed by the OIJ on PokerStars' offices in San Jose was a mistake. The OIJ had arrest warrants for three individuals, none of which were PokerStars employees.
I speculated earlier that the raid was a result of government officials from one of the many labor/employment ministries worried that PokerStars would stiff their employees in a similar manner to the UB/AP fiasco. None of that is true. The raid was the result of showing up at the wrong office.
The raid was described as "just like in the movies with the cops running inside screaming and yelling and telling everyone to get away from their computers. They kept asking 'Where are the servers!'"
When it became apparent that the OIJ showed up at the wrong company, they drank coffee in the PokerStars employees' cafeteria before exiting the premises. The OIJ left without "taking a single paper or server."
My source from a major sportsbook noted, "The fucking Keystone Cops showed up at the wrong fucking address."
Our man on the street in San Jose remarked, "I think Greivin Moya led them to the wrong address. The media is sensational (sic) in Costa Rica about stories like this."
As my source explained, poker is more legitimate than the shady origins of sportsbooks -- which had ties to the East Coast mafia. But media hounds like Moya try to demonize poker because it's related to gambling.
Our man on the street continued, "The Gringos own the (Costa Rican) government. The FBI has offices in the embassy. If they wanted to pick up someone, they tell the OIJ, who does their work for them. But they didn't want anyone at PokerStars. They only wanted Olman Rimola, Scott Tom, and Brent Beckley."
That's all my sources have for now.
To recap... as weird as it sounds, one of my primary sources suggested the raid on PokerStars' offices were a mistake because the OIJ showed up at the wrong company.
5/7/11 Saturday Update:
Thanks to Gaming Counsel for pointing out this PR release...Blanca Games Issues Statement on Costa Rican Authority Actions. They claim that the raids had nothing to do with Black Friday or the DOJ, rather a separate criminal investigation trying to locate Olman Rimola.
I've been around the block enough times to know that PR releases are watered-down spin pieces, yet I read it anyway. This particular one already turned me off with the title. I'm skeptical of spin doctors altering perception from reality by avoiding using negative terms like "OIJ raid" and instead referring to the federales busting down doors as "authority actions."