Met my sisterfriends at the casino last weekend for a girlcation (good times). We were chatting with one of the craps dealers and after finding common ground in poker he told me what had happened the previous Friday — PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker and others have been forced to block access to US players. Enlarge the image to see the big nasty message you’ll see if you visit any of these websites.
From what I understand, there’s been a federal law prohibiting banks from accepting funds from, or transferring funds to “known gambling sites”. A special code was supposed to be used by these companies in transactions identifying them as gambling sites so banks could deny accordingly. Allegedly these sites used some creative workarounds. And addition to the federal law, states have their own online gambling laws. Washington, of course, taking the “no online gambling” stance. Due to a court battle lost by some brave gambling soul who was hoping to change all that last year (nice try), Full Tilt and some other sites denied access to Washington State players they had previously let in. I quoted an article below with some useful links for anyone who is in the position of being more than curious… (see original article at onlinepoker.net)
Following the culmination of a year long grand jury probe, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker have now been forced to block access to their sites for all US players.
US Congress introduced the UIGEA in 2006 making it illegal for their citizens to gamble online but nevertheless many poker rooms still continued to target and operate in the US market against the law.
However, not only have three of the world’s biggest poker rooms now suspended their US operations but the sites’ creators are also facing a range of charges including illegal gambling, money laundering and bank fraud.
Thus far, the poker companies have had 76 bank accounts in 14 countries shut down, interrupting the flow of billions of dollars to their sites. According to authorities, the sites are accused of disguising gambling payments and deceiving banks into processing the money by creating fake corporations and web sites claiming to be selling unrelated merchandise, such as jewellery and golf balls. Apparently around a third of these payments would then show up on the poker companies’ books as revenue.
As U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explains, the defendants “concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits.”
The US government has now determined to go after more than $3 billion in money laundering penalties, and have so far arrested 11 people who could each face at least 30 years in jail. These men include PokerStars’ Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate, Full Tilt Poker’s Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick, and Absolute Poker’s Scott Tom and Brent Beckley.
As the crack-down on online poker continues, US poker players have been waking up to the reality of not being able to play at their favourite sites. In the meantime, the defendants seem to be denying any wrong doings and assuring their customers their deposits would be kept safe.
For instance, a PokerStars statement read: “Please be assured player balances are safe. There is no cause for concern. For all customers outside the U.S. it is business as usual.”
In the meantime, US players can visit this page to find a list of poker sites still accepting usa players.