Bryan Micon, the self-proclaimed (perhaps sarcastically) “chairman” and leading pro sponsor of bitcoin poker site Seals with Clubs, has been charged in Nevada with operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system. The charge, a class B felony, carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
In a press conference on Tuesday, April 28th, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt revealed more details about the case, the first of its kind to prosecute an online site to use bitcoin. “The industry must be licensed and controlled,” he said. “Defending Nevada’s worldwide reputation as the gold standard of gaming integrity is a paramount concern to tens of thousands of Nevadans employed by the industry and the 41 million tourists who visit the state each year.”
The investigation, run by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, involved an agent named Ricardo Lopez who signed up and used Seals with Clubs, exchanging U.S. currency for Bitcoin which he then used to gamble on the site. The agent also staked out Micon’s home, monitored his social media accounts and even observed Skype conversations in which Micon stated that his site earned $10,000 to $12,000 profit each month.
Micon’s home was raided on February 11th. He was handcuffed and led outside in his boxer underwear, but not arrested. Agents found that he was logged into the website and editing one of the pages. He described the event in a Youtube video recorded from the Caribbean island country of Antigua 10 days after the raid. “A bunch of guys with guns broke down my door, put me in handcuffs, serving a warrant from the Nevada gaming commission…and stole most of my electronics,” he says in dark silhouette, palm trees in the background. He also makes many references to a “police state” environment and claimed he didn’t think he was doing anything “unethical”. Soon after the video Micon launched a new website, SwCPoker.eu.
Deposits in the original Seals with Clubs were not compromised in the raid, and Micon has been encouraging people to withdraw all their funds. A tweet from Micon on April 22 reads, “Only a few days left to withdraw any balance from @SealsWithClubs Please tell anyone you know to withdraw ASAP.”
In response to the warrant for his arrest Micon has set up a gofundme.com legal defense campaign to fund his attorney fees. His plea reads as follows:
“Most of you have seen recent events surrounding SealsWithClubs and my family. Today I was charged by the Nevada Attorney General with “one count of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system.”
I maintain that I have committed no wrongdoing and have retained the legal services of Chesnoff & Schonfeld, whom I believe are the best lawyers for my case.
The price for representation will quickly deplete my funds, and I am asking for donations from anyone who feels like helping me.
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.
The state of Nevada desires to take that away from me. Please help me fight.”
It is not clear when or whether Micon will return to Nevada to face the charges against him. As of Wednesday, April 29th, his Twitter account listed Antigua as his location.