Fugitive bitcoin online poker operator Bryan Micon will return to the United States to face illegal gambling charges.
Micon currently resides in Antigua, dodging an arrest warrant Nevada authorities issued in April for operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system. Earlier this week, a judge lifted the warrant to enable Micon to travel back to Nevada for a hearing on Thursday (25).
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Micon would be booked and then released on his own recognizance. Micon is being represented by David Chesnoff, part of the team that resolved Paul Phua’s legal gambling issues. Micon’s charges carry a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $50k fine.
Micon stands accused of operating the now defunct Bitcoin-only online poker site Sealswithclubs. In February, the site abruptly announced it was closing its doors for good. A few days later, Micon revealed that a “bunch of guys with guns” had raided his Nevada home and seized “most of my electronics,” prompting him to up sticks and relocate to Antigua. Micon has since launched a new site under the banner of SwCPoker.eu
Nevada authorities have labeled Micon’s case unique as the first prosecution of a Bitcoin-only illegal gambling site. A self-described “outspoken Bitcoin advocate,” Micon believes he has “committed no wrongdoing.” Trouble is, Nevada is having enough trouble goosing its struggling intrastate poker market, so examples must be made.
Micon’s case may be unique but it also brings to mind the story of another journey from Antigua to US shores. A decade and a half ago, World Sports Exchange CEO Jay Cohen voluntarily returned to the US to fight his illegal online gambling charges and ended up spending 17 months in prison. Cohen was released in 2004 and was soon back running WSEX into the ground until it collapsed in on itself in 2013.
There are two crucial distinctions between Cohen and Micon. Unlike Cohen, Micon didn’t rob his customers. And unlike Cohen, Micon wasn’t an Antigua resident; he was a tourist who just kept losing his passport down the back of the sofa.