Great news for USA poker players, well sort of at least. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have re-acquired their .com domain names after having them controlled for the last few days by the DoJ, the bad news is that this still changes little in terms of US players being permitted to play at the popular online poker sites but it does help in allowing USA players to cashout their money. The remainder of the world will once again be able to use the .com site names to play.
The funny part is that PokerStars signups are actually up 20% over the past week; even accounting for Friday's decision, showing that player confidence still remains high for the world's largest online poker site. Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and the U.S. Attorney's office have all made recent statements regarding the USA poker ban and we cover which rooms are still allowing real money play for Americans.
Full Tilt Poker USA Ban Statement
Full Tilt Poker made the following announcement "FullTiltPoker is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to regain the use of its worldwide domain name, www.fulltiltpoker.com
Although players in the United States will not be permitted to engage in real-money play, the agreement expressly allows for real-money play outside of the United States.
In addition, the agreement represents an important first step towards returning funds to U.S. players because it allows Full Tilt Poker to utilize its domain to facilitate the withdrawal of player funds. But, unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future. As a result of the recent enforcement action, there exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds; Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government; and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players.
Finally, there are numerous legal and jurisdictional issues that must be considered before poker winnings can be paid out to players throughout the United States. While Full Tilt Poker continues to believe that online poker is not illegal under federal law or in 49 states, the indictment and civil forfeiture action filed last Friday require Full Tilt Poker to proceed with caution in this area.
Notwithstanding these issues, Full Tilt Poker is ready to work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to try and resolve these issues and to get players their money back as soon as possible."
PokerStars USA Ban Statement
PokerStars released a statement at the time of the domain name release stating: "The company categorically denies the allegations brought by the US Department of Justice on 15th April 2011 and is taking all steps necessary to robustly defend itself, and the two named individuals. Meanwhile, the company has stopped offering real money poker services in the United States.
Returning US player’s funds is a top priority for PokerStars and the company can now start the process of returning money to its former US customers. All PokerStars player deposits are completely safe. The Isle of Man's strict licensing laws (similar to other jurisdictions where PokerStars holds licenses) require all funds to be held in accounts that are segregated from company assets. PokerStars has always complied with this requirement and continues to do so. This money is readily available to meet withdrawal demands; indeed the company continues to comply with withdrawal requests from players based outside the USA as normal. Outside the US, PokerStars continues to operate business as usual."
U.S. Attorney’s Office - USA Poker Ban Statement
The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated: “Under the terms of the agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the companies agreed that they would not allow for, facilitate, or provide the ability for players located in the United States to engage in playing online poker for ‘real money’ or any other thing of value. The agreements allow for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to use the pokerstars.com and fulltiltpoker.com domain names to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players’ funds held in account with the companies. The deposit of funds by U.S. players is expressly prohibited. In addition, the agreements do not prohibit, and, in fact, expressly allow for, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to provide for, and facilitate, players outside of the United States to engage in playing online poker for real money. The agreements also require the appointment of an independent Monitor to verify PokerStars’ and Full Tilt Poker’s compliance with the agreements. The Government stands to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker if it so chooses.”
PokerRooms allowing USA Poker Players for Real Money
There are still several alternative pokerrooms where USA poker players can still play for real money, these include Bodog Poker, UWin Poker and Carbon Poker.
All of which were unscathed by the recent allegations of money laundering, believe it or not, there is no federal law that makes online poker illegal in the USA as Poker not specifically mentioned in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. To date no legal document indicates that poker is unlawful Internet gambling which leaves the law open to interpretation but there are laws in place regarding permitting unlawful Internet gambling transactions.
Many believe it was Daniel Tzvetkoff, former head of Intabill, a payment processing company that processed transactions for PokerStars and FullTilt, whom gave much needed evidence to the DOJ proving that the poker sites conspired to defraud U.S. financial institutions by hiding transactions used for Internet gambling to circumvent the UIGEA. Daniel Tzvetkoff apparently handed over the details in a bid to gain immunity for charges he was facing.