Nevada AG Files Charge Against SWC’s Bryan Micon
Bryan Micon, the former Chairman of the US-facing and Bitcoin-enabled SealsWithClubs Poker, has now been charged with with illegal activity regarding that site by Nevada’s Attorney’s General office.
News of the charge being filed — a copy of the complaint has yet to be filed into online court-document archives — was first broken in a Las Vegas Review-Journal piece yesterday. The specific charge now confirmed by Micon himself, is a single count of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system, which carries a possible maximum 10-year jail term and $50,000 fine.
Micon’s SealsWithClubs site, which used the virtual, Internet-based Bitcoins (BTC) as an exchange medium, was shuttered in February after a raid on Micon’s Las Vegas home. The original SealsWithClubs launched in 2011, becoming one of the first three online poker sites to accept Bitcoins.
The February 9th raid, in which an underwear-clad Micon was handcuffed and led outside his house for several hours, resulted in the seizure of all of Micon’s electronic devices. No charges were filed at that time. Other and unnamed investors in the SealsWithClubs site chose to discontinue their involvement with that site following the raid targeting Micon, a vocal Bitcoin and virtual currency proponent who never admitted direct ownership in SealsWithClubs but nonetheless was quite open about his affiliation with the site.
Micon subsequently left Las Vegas and the United States with his wife and young daughter, relocating to Antigua and Barbuda where he relaunched the defunct SealsWithClubs operation under a new brand name, SWCPoker. The site has quickly returned to the top of all Bitcoin-only poker sites, though all such sites are dwarfed by magnitudes by the major imternational online poker sites of the world.
Micon publicly acknowledged the Vegas raid after relocating to Antigua, roundly and openly criticizing the police-state tactics used against him, including a SWAT-style takedown against the avowed pacifist. Later in February, Micon issued a roughly 10-minute video offering his take on the raid and his rationale for moving to online gambling-friendly Antigua to relaunch his “Seals” operation.
“After I was led out in handcuffs in my underwear, it was pretty clear that it was proper to leave sooner rather than later,” said Micon. “I didn’t really want my two-year-old daughter, whom I love very much, to grow up in a police state where creativity is often met with guns [and] handcuffs.”
That Micon was allowed to freely leave the US in February, and that no charges have been filed against other individuals who may have been owners of the original SealsWithClubs site, are likely to fuel discussion and claims that the raid and belated charge(s) are politically motivated.
Micon himself originally declined to offer specific comment about the filing of the Nevada charge when contacted yesterday by FlushDraw. “Le sigh, direct inquires on this matter to Chesnoff & Schonfeld,” DM’d Micon, referring to the Las Vegas-based legal firm featuring power attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld. Chesnoff and Schonfeld have represented dozens of well-known, high-profile gamblers in various cases over the years, most recently in the news for their involvement as defense attorneys in the Paul Phua case, which continues.
Micon himself, later on Tuesday, advised select poker media including FlushDraw that he had started a private defense fund for the case via online fundraising platform GoFundMe. In its first few hours, the defense fund garnered at least one $1,000 donation.
The firm had not yet replied to a FlushDraw inquiry at press time, but yesterday provided a brief statement to the LVRJ about the case. “Bryan has always maintained that he committed no wrongdoing, but I’m not in a position to comment on the Attorney General’s filing because I haven’t seen it,” Schonfeld told that outlet.
This version adds and corrects to initial version published earlier today. Further updates will be provided as information becomes available.