No surprise if you are an online poker player, but our options of playing online have effectively been taken away from us. The UIGEA law enacted in 2006 made it illegal for banks and financial institutions to transfer funds to and from online Poker sites.
On April 15, 2011, the DOJ used that law and stopped all online play by US players from occurring on two or three of the major US facing online poker sites. This event was named “Black Friday”. US players were no longer allowed to play for cash on either PokerStars or FullTiltPoker. These sites were charged with fraud and money laundering.
These charges are basically true because credit card companies and banks were restricting the transferring of money to and from poker sites. So the sites got creative and coded the transactions so that it appeared that the product or service being purchased was not “poker”. As in all creative accounting ventures, they eventually got caught. Well, actually the person who taught these companies how to process the money ended up as a government witness against them, or so the story goes.
The DOJ has made it hard and even next to impossible to withdraw our funds from these sites. It may take several weeks or even months before US players can even request their funds.
In all likelyhood, it will probably be two or more years before we will be able to play on an online poker site for cash legally.
Yes, I know that Carbon Poker, Cake Poker skins and others online are available., but we still have the same problem of legally depositing and/or withdrawing our funds. We know that the DOJ will be watching and going after the next largest violator of the law. In reality none of the offshore sites will be truly safe for US players until there is legalized online poker in the US, regulated by either the State or Federal government.
So in the meantime we need to contact our local and national government officials and let them know what we want to see happen to online poker in the US. This is not an easy task but we must all do our part. Bickering and complaining about won’t help. Even organizations like the Poker Players Alliance needs to step up their efforts and work for us in an effective manner. They should be thinking about more than just public relation efforts to support our cause.
I still have funds on Bodog, Carbon Poker, DoylesRoom, PokerHost and TruePoker. I will play on those sites and I will withdraw whenever I have $250 in profits. I may take a shot at playing larger tourneys or higher level cash games if the games look beatable. I will certainly start withdrawing any winnings on these sites before they are also locked out to us. But I will certainly try to keep my risk of loss as low as possible in any case.
The next few years won’t be easy and they will not be as fun as they were prior to April 15, 2011.
I will not be making anymore deposits until online poker is legal in the US. This is getting easy because there are practically no deposit options left that I can use. There were online payment processing companies that allowed you to either deposit by credit card or bank transfers from your banks. Then you could transfer the money to the poker sites. Most of these companies have had their funds seized. This was very similar to what happened with NetTeller a few years ago. But at least with NetTeller, I was able to get my money back after about a year wait. This time, I lost all that I had on account with the two payment processor that I was using. One of them offered to wire transfer my money to me but were going to charge me a $50 processing fee which was more than I had on the account.
I will probably visit my local New Hampshire poker rooms three days a week or more.
What are your future poker plans since “Black Friday”? Where do you go from here?