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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Current Status of PokerStars Frequent Player Points

 

This is from PokerStars Support:

Thank you for contacting PokerStars.

In light of recent developments, PokerStars is no longer offering real money play to US residents, or residents of US territories.

The PokerStars Cashier is now available for you to cash out the funds in your real money account balance, which was the number one priority for PokerStars.

PokerStars is currently working with the US government to achieve an agreement on what can be done with FPPs. PokerStars would prefer that players be allowed to use their FPPs in the VIP Store as normal, however no final decision has been agreed.

Rest assured, should you choose to await any decision prior to cashing out, your real money balance is completely safe.

We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Best regards,

Will D

PokerStars Support Team

PokerStars Starts Taking US Cash Outs, but Hey What About My VIP Player Points?


On Tuesday, April 26th PokerStars Starts Accepting US Player Cash Out Requests

True to its reputation they are the first online poker room to provide player cash outs.  I was able to sign into my account and cash out via Echeck (since I’ve used my checking account information before) with only a couple of clicks.  The big question now is what about the VIP points?  These can be worth a significant amount of money and I even know one player that has almost $20,000.00 worth of player points in their account.  We have a question into PokerStars and will report as soon as we have a reply on this issue.

No news so far from Full Tilt Poker on when they will allow US cash outs.  In fact I haven’t heard any official word from any of the poker pro’s from Full Tilt (beyond a couple of tweets berating UltimateBet from Tom Dwan and Daniel Negreanu), but that’s almost a daily par for the course DoJ poker raid or not.  I personally had a $600 cash out in progress at the time of the raid and Full Tilt still hasn’t even returned that money to my account.  That’s 3rd place performance out of 3 since UltimateBet and PokerStars both returned money at least to my player account.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday April 20th, 2011: PPA Claims Victory Over Evildoers! (But was really just sitting there eating a pizza)

 

Today the following email went out from the PPA:

4-20-2011 1-42-37 PM

The PPA here somehow want us to believe that the outcry of email and letters from us has caused the Department of Justice to change its mind and let US players get money out of their accounts.  Uh, no.  Clearly that was their plan the entire time.

What apparently is happening is the DoJ is setting things up so that there will be no legal opportunity to decide the legality of online poker (they say it is illegal, most legal experts say it is not) because in order to do so the poker rooms would have to risk one or more of their founders and the stakes for them are quite high.

Basically get the hell out of the US, never come back, and we promise your old US customers can get the money you owe them and we promise not to interfere with your future international (non-US) poker business.  It’s a tough deal to pass up when the alternative is the possibility of half your life in prison.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Professor I. Nelson Rose Talks About Current Black Friday DOJ Attacks on Online Poker


Federal Poker Indictments: Revisiting Prohibition

The timing is suspicious.

March saw Nevada regulators approving a partnership between Caesars and 888, and Wynn announcing a joint venture with PokerStars.  Now comes the indictments, three-billion-dollar civil suit and seizures of domain names by the feds.  Wynn immediately cancelled his plans.  Players were panicked.

Which was, of course, the goal.

If the allegations are true, the operators brought this on themselves, by lying and bribing bank officials. Of course, the prosecutors have the problem of convincing a jury that there is bank fraud when the "victims" are tricked into making millions of dollars.

And will this be the end of Internet poker?  Did Prohibition end drinking?

Prohibition created modern organized crime, by outlawing alcoholic beverages.  When people want something and it is illegal, organizations will arise to fill the demand.  How much more so when the activity, online poker, is not even clearly illegal?

Every action by the U.S. federal government makes it more difficult for it to go after the next operator.  The UIGEA, rammed through by the failed politician Bill Frist (R.-TN), can be seen as an anti-consumer-protection law, because it scared all of the publicly traded gaming companies out of the U.S. market.  Then prosecutors went after payment processors, making it more difficult for players to find legitimate ways to send their money to betting sites.

Now the feds have seized .com domain names and charged operators with bank fraud.  So, gaming sites are switching to .eu and .uk, and cutting off all physical contact with the U.S.  Even the present American operators can’t be extradited, so what hope is there for the DoJ to bring future foreign operators here to stand trial?

The Grand Jury has been meeting for at least a year.  The criminal indictment against PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute and their founders, was unsealed by the U.S. Attorney for New York on April 15, but bore a date-stamp of March 10.  So why now?

Besides the Caesars-888 and Wynn-PokerStars agreements, the Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee recently approved a bill to regulate online poker.  And the District of Columbia actually made it legal.

The DoJ has been waging a war of intimidation against Internet gambling for years, successfully scaring players, operators, payment processors and affiliates into abandoning the American market.  Lacking the two essentials to any prosecution – a statute that clearly makes the activity illegal and a defendant physically present in the U.S. – the feds have announced showy legal action against easy targets about every other year.

Online poker is not an easy target, since a federal Court of Appeal ruled the Wire Act is limited to bets on sports events.  And tricking financial institutions into processing poker payments seems a technicality, especially since the banks made millions without paying a penny in fines.

But getting a bank to agree to process gambling transactions in return for a $10 million investment is an easier case, if true.  I can understand approaching a small bank – so small that the officer and part-owner who allegedly arranged the deal, asked for, and received, only $20,000 for his “bonus.”  But why would you do this in Utah, of all states?

There are lots of interesting nuggets in the legal papers.  The DoJ claims that one-third of the billions of dollars players deposited went to the operators through the rake.  That number seems high, but if true, it explains why everyone wants to operate an online poker room, with few expenses and no chance of losing to a lucky gambler.

Most of the activities cited occurred after the passage of the UIGEA.  This is a subtle acknowledgment that operators who left the U.S. in 2006 have nothing to fear.

Even if there was a bribe, the feds are still going to have to prove that the poker was illegal.  Since the Wire Act won’t work, prosecutors used 18 U.S.C. 1955, which makes it a federal felony if five or more people do more than $2,000 in business a day in violation of state gambling laws.  The indictment relies on "New York Penal Law 225 and 225.05 and the laws of other states." There is a “thank you” to the Washington State Gambling Commission, indicating that the DoJ is probably going to piggyback on that state’s 2006 law outlawing all Internet gambling, as well.

The Washington statute was upheld by the State Supreme Court.  Still, there are problems.  State laws are presumed not to reach beyond their borders.  And even if Internet poker is illegal in that state, it is quite a leap to seize domain names for the entire country and threaten bank accounts in places like Panama.

The only state with a law better than Washington’s is Nevada.  But basing this attack on Internet poker on Nevada law would look like it was motivated by the landbased casinos.  After all, who are the big winners here?

We will probably see the first attacks on the indictments from the two defendants who were arrested, the Utah banker and the Nevada payment processor who allegedly bribed him, when they fight extradition to New York.  And the poker operators will undoubtedly fight to get their .com names back for the rest of the world.

The operators will never stand trial.  The only U.S. extradition treaty I have found that covers illegal gambling is with Hong Kong.  Calling it bank fraud won’t work, since the defendants can show their local courts that it is based on gambling.  And it is fundamental to all extraditions that the activity be illegal in both countries.  No nation will extradite an individual to be tried for the very activity that that nation licenses.

There may not even be a settlement.  The DoJ accepted $405 million from PartyGaming and one of its founders and $100 million from Neteller and its founders.  But those companies had already left the U.S. gaming markets.  The DoJ will insist on a guilty plea to something, which might kill the operators’ chances of getting licensed when American laws change.  And no amount of money will buy them the right to open up again without a change in the law.  So what would these operators get from a settlement, other than not having to be worried about getting arrested changing planes?

It will be interesting to watch the fallout.  There are a lot of famous American poker players and others who are associated with the indicted operators.  They should be getting their affairs in order.

Meanwhile, like a raid by Elliot Ness on breweries and speakeasies during Prohibition, there are now wonderful opportunities for new operators to fill the vacuum.  Unless, of course, Americans are actually going to stop playing poker on the Internet.


© Copyright 2011, I. Nelson Rose, Encino, California.  All rights reserved worldwide.  Gambling and the Law® is a registered trademark of Professor I. Nelson Rose, www.GamblingAndTheLaw.com.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Full Tilt Poker Responds to DOJ Online Poker Raids

 

Full Tilt Poker™ Supports Poker Players And Its Chief Executive

Dublin Ireland (April 15, 2011) - Full Tilt Poker is saddened by today's charges against its CEO Raymond Bitar and offers its full support to Mr. Bitar and Nelson Burtnick.

Online poker is a game of skill enjoyed by tens of millions of people in the United States and across the world. And, Full Tilt Poker remains as committed as ever to preserving the rights of those players to play the game they love online.

Mr. Bitar and Full Tilt Poker believe online poker is legal - a position also taken by some of the best legal minds in the United States. Full Tilt Poker is, and has always been committed to preserving the integrity of the game and abiding by the law.

"I am surprised and disappointed by the government's decision to bring these charges. I look forward to Mr. Burtnick's and my exoneration", said Mr. Bitar.

Unfortunately, as a result of this action, Full Tilt Poker has decided that it must suspend "real money" play in the United States until this case is resolved. However, Full Tilt Poker will continue to provide peer-to-peer online poker services outside of the United States.
For more information, please call +442032877138

About Full Tilt Poker

Full Tilt Poker™ is the host of a worldwide virtual poker cardroom service. It is not in the business of betting or wagering and does not participate in the games as a player. It merely provides a service to those who wish to test their skills against others for fun, prizes or money. It is duly regulated and licensed by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. With innovative graphics, superior customer service and a safe, secure interface, the software is geared to enhance and personalize the online poker experience. Although virtual poker is legal where the games are hosted and played, it may not be legal where individual players are located.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The morning after the US Department of Justice launched its weapons of mass destruction at online poker.

Where we are, where we’re likely to be going and what’s it all mean.

Right now the sites affected include PokerStars, UltimateBet renamed recently to UB.com, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.  As of this moment all of these domains are coming up with this DOJ web page:
4-15-2011 3-17-31 PM
PokerStars has blocked all US customers from playing on their site and Full Tilt Poker has reported that it will make a similar block sometime in the very near future.  There has been no comment from UltimateBet/Absolute Poker. 
It seems as though this insta-blocking of US customers is an attempt to dissuade the DOJ from going after all the poker rooms assets and using Interpol(!) to arrest the lead people from all four sites.  Obviously if this occurs it will mean a giant shakeup in the online poker industry not just for US players but for people worldwide.  Online poker will survive of course but the landscape may look very different in six months then it does now.
Obviously this affects a lot of people not the least of which is MellowYellow (the PokerStars player this blog tracked through most of last year and who finally achieved SuperNova elite status though hardcore 24-table poker playing). They are now unable to play in the US and may in fact lose all the value from their efforts last year.
We are recommending that if you disagree with this DOJ action you immediately contact your congressman and senators.

Friday, April 15, 2011

US Federal Government Lowers the HAMMER on Top 3 Online Poker Rooms

 

Full Tilt, Pokerstars and Absolute Poker up on charges

The United States Department of Justice created an indictment against the top 3 USA online poker rooms accusing them of fraud, money laundering and more.  This could effectively and immediately shut down the still thriving US online poker scene and rattle a nest of hornets that the DOJ may wish they hadn’t touched.

The full text of the indictments are here:

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/April11/scheinbergetalindictmentpr.pdf