Poker Players eChecks bouncing

In the latest move by the anti-online gambling crowd, players using echecks as their preferred method of withdrawing their online poker winnings found last week that their checks were bouncing. The Federal government had seized over $30 million in bank accounts belonging to the online payment processor and so their were no funds to honor the players echecks.

The Associated Press reported that, in a letter faxed to the Alliance Bank of Arizona by the assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, the accounts held by payment processor Allied Systems Inc. are said to be subject to seizure and forfeiture “because they constitute property involved in money laundering transactions and illegal gambling offenses,”.

It seems that the legal basis for this move rests on the Wire Act, which is more usually the law used to go after online bookmakers and not poker rooms.

Also unusual in this move is the fact that the funds targeted belong to online poker players and not the poker rooms. Bearing in mind that there is actually no law on the statute books in the US that prohibits playing poker online, the seizure of ordinary citizens cash would seem to require some serious explanation.

So what is that explanation? Well, so far the people behind this move, the US attorneys office of New York have refused to comment on the case.

The Poker Players Alliance has been quick to respond this this move, issuing the following statement;

“The PPA is disappointed that this unprecedented action has been commenced against law abiding poker players. The payment processor funds frozen by the Southern District of New York belong to individual poker players – not operators of poker websites – and do not represent the proceeds of any gambling activity, much less illegal gambling activity. This money should be immediately released by the Southern District to ensure that player payouts are not further disrupted. To that end, the PPA is coordinating a legal strategy to appropriately protect PPA members who are impacted by the Southern District’s actions. Further, the PPA has contacted the affected poker websites and has been informed that deposit and payout issues of players are being addressed and will be fully satisfied.”

The main poker rooms affected by this move are of course those rooms that still take American Players, such as FullTilt Poker, Poker Stars and UltimateBet and Absolute Poker. Full Tilt have come out with a statement effectively guaranteeing their players money. The important part of this statement is

“All players who were affected by the current situation have had their funds returned to their Full Tilt Poker accounts and all new withdrawal requests are processing normally.”

And the whole statement can be read here.

We have also heard, but cannot find any online statement yet, that Poker Stars will also cover any of their players withdrawals that may have been affected by this seizure.

Posted on Friday, 12th June 2009 in the Poker News category. Tagged with: , ,