In a nutshell, Alligator Blood is about one of the largest government crackdowns on online poker in history – mainly told through the experiences of Australian IT wizard Daniel Tzvetkoff, a central figure in the crackdown. Tzvetkoff was a just a teenager in Brisbane working for Pizza Hut when he started messing around with computers. Eventually, he developed a new way of processing payments electronically. Shortly after, some of the biggest American poker companies approached him to do business, to which he obliged. This led him to move to Las Vegas, start earning millions of dollars on a weekly basis, and reveling in the excesses of the Vegas VIP lifestyle. But as you can probably surmise, things went downhill from there, and Tzvetkoff was eventually pursued by the FBI in his involvement in the world of illegal online poker.
Alligator Blood is based on true events and was penned by non-fiction author James Leighton, a lawyer-turned-writer who had previously written books about British soccer stars. Upon stumbling on the story of the crackdown in the news, Leighton expressed his intentions to cover it to his publisher, and was sent to different places all over the world to track down the story’s key players, including Tzvetkoff.
The story begins in 2006 when the US government made it illegal for banks to process and transfer all payments related to online gambling. Tzvetkoff stepped into the picture by inventing a brilliant digital way for online poker operators to circumvent these policies and continue operations, eventually leading to the rapid growth of his company Intabill. Through this company, Tzvetkoff serviced three of the biggest online poker operators in the US, eventually earning millions in the process, and then spending those millions on luxury car fleets, yacht, private jets, a nightclub, and even a $28 million mansion.
Things were going well for Tzvetkoff until he was sued by his business partner for $100 million, which was when things began unraveling. What followed were several lawsuits and legally-implicating revelations, until he was eventually arrested by the FBI in 2010 and threatened with 75 years in jail on account of several federal financial charges. As a result, Tzvetkoff was forced to become an informant for the FBI, revealing the extent of his online poker payment operations and implicating some of the largest operators in the process. Today, Tzvetkoff remains in jail under the FBI’s witness protection program, and the landmark case has resulted in a number of regulatory actions across the global world of online poker.
In fact, online poker has changed a lot since the book was released in 2013. Today, organizations from countries like the UK and Malta run gambling licensing commissions which have the authority to call for investigations on fraud and any wrongdoing in the online gaming industry. Through consistent regulatory action, the technology available today has also expanded the possibilities of online poker and the industry is still growing. Today many online operators are now able to replicate the physical casino experience. An 888 Casino review outlines how live video poker is becoming a more and more popular version of the classic table game, showing how far the online industry has evolved since Tzvetkoff’ time. With that being said, the online gaming and poker industries remain as cutthroat and competitive as ever, and Alligator Blood remains to be a compelling account and reminder of the industry’s dark past.
For a fictional story based around the casino industry The House Always Wins: A Vegas Ghost Story by Brian Rouff is a one of kind read that we recommend.