Bryan Micon Given Two Years’ Probation in Illegal Gambling Case
Bryan Micon, founder of Bitcoin online poker sites SealswithClubs.com and SwCPoker.eu, received a sentence of two years’ probation from District Court Judge Kerry Earley in an illegal internet gambling case dating back to February, consistent with a plea deal he entered into this summer.
As mentioned, Micon operated SealsWithClubs, an internet poker site unique in that it only accepted the cyber-currency Bitcoin. On February 20th, the site abruptly closed after nine days of unexplained downtime. In a five-minute video, Micon broke the company’s silence, explaining the events that precipitated the closure. He informed that public that at 8:00am on February 11th, Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) officials and armed law enforcement agents raided his Las Vegas home, parading him outside in handcuffs while he was clothed only in his underwear. They seized his computers and electronics as well as cash during the eight-hour ordeal, eventually leaving without arresting him or officially charging him with any crimes.
Micon was infuriated, saying that he would soon move his family to Antigua, a small nation known for being online-gambling friendly. He said that the move was already planned, but the events of February 11th served as a catalyst to get it done sooner:
After I was led out in handcuffs in my underwear, it was pretty clear that it was proper to leave sooner rather than later. I didn’t really want my two-year-old daughter, who I love very much, to grow up in a police state where creativity is often met with guns and handcuffs and what-not and that’s just not the environment that I think is proper for my daughter to grow up in.
Soon after his relocation, Micon launched SwCPoker.eu, SealsWithClubs 2.0, if you will. Also a Bitcoin-only site, it featured more games and a more attractive interface than its predecessor. Micon posted on the site after the launch:
What a brilliant few days for Bitcoin poker. The successful launch of SwC Poker has been met with worldwide cheer. New games and features are online, such as OFC pineapple, badeucey, badacey, 12 game, dealer’s choice, and many more, available in Cash, SnG, or MTT format. OFC/p MTTs have quickly become a crowd favorite. Look for cash game stakes to slowly increase as confidence in the new system builds. Thanks for the outpouring of support for SwC. We are happy to be back and serving the btc poker public.
In late April, Micon was formally charged by the Nevada’s Attorney’s General office with one count of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system, which comes with the possibility of ten years in jail and/or a $50,000 fine.
Micon initially planned on fighting the charges, even going so far as to set up a private defense fund on GoFundMe.com that raised about $4,000 of his desired $100,000 (GoFundMe shut it down for unknown reasons), but he eventually decided to return to the United States in June to negotiate a plea deal. He ended up agreeing to a deal that allowed him to avoid jail time, instead accepting probation for an undetermined amount of time and a $25,000 fine. He also agreed to give up some of the things seized in the February raid on his home, including $900 in cash, electronic equipment, and 3.0996 Bitcoin (worth about $1,300 at the time of writing), which would have had to be held in an e-wallet on some sort of physical device, as Bitcoin is a virtual currency.
One of the most important aspects of the plea deal is that the crime was reduced from a felony to a gross misdemeanor, provided Micon successfully completes his probation. The benefit for Micon is that he still retains his civil rights, whereas he would lose many of them if he had a felony on his record. Who knows if he cares about many of those rights, especially once he moves back to Antigua, but as the saying goes, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”
So all that needed to be settled was the actual length of Bryan Micon’s probation. This week, Judge Kerry Earley decided that the appropriate duration would be a maximum of two years, with all the other portions of the plea deal remaining in place. There was the consideration to increase that maximum to three years, but Micon’s attorney, Richard Schonfeld, successfully argued that Micon acted responsibly in returning to the United States to face the charges against him and that he would like to go back to Antigua as soon as possible to resume a career.
In the meantime, Micon has to remain the U.S. Word is that he has a job in a Las Vegas store that sells drones.