Thursday, October 12, 2006

Poker Ban Update

In big news yesterday, pokerstars announced that, unlike their friends at partypoker, they will not be turning tail like little schoolchildren in the face of the U.S.'s anti-gaming-funds-transfers bill that is expected to be signed by President Bush on Friday, October 13 (yes, it will be Friday the 13th when this bill is expected to become law). This is huge news that pokerstars has elected continue serving the U.S. market for online poker while the nuances and enforcement provisions of the new bill are considered and passed during the coming 270 days per the terms of the bill. This will give U.S. players more than just full tilt among the largest sites available to play at, and more than that, the addition of market giant pokerstars can only help the cause of those companies (and players) who do not believe that this rule should or does apply to them in their provision of online poker platforms for American consumers. And, of course, it means you can continue to play in Mondays at the Hoy on pokerstars, every Monday night at 10pm ET under the "private" tab at pokerstars, at least for the time being.

In not so great news, however, yesterday was also the death knell for Firepay's transaction processing for U.S. consumers of online gaming sites. Firepay surprised a lot of people by coming out yesterday with an affirmative statement that reads much like it was written by PartyGaming's PR people, essentially explaining that, as of the day that the U.S. bill is signed into law, Firepay will immediately stop processing any deposits for U.S. customers into any online gaming sites. Firepay is softening its stance slightly, however, with respect to withdrawals from online sites to U.S. players' Firepay accounts, opting instead to give an additional ten days to U.S. players to get their withdrawals processed into the Firepay accounts before also shutting down that functionality.

In all it's hard to say whether yesterday then was a positive or negative day overall for the plight of U.S. players seeking to play poker online. Pokerstars officially not pulling out of the U.S. market is clearly great news, but with Firepay now out of the picture once the bill is signed, it is hard to be too optimistic regarding Neteller's plans. As I understand it, Firepay and Neteller are both non-U.S. entities doing more or less the exact same thing for their customers, so the fact that Firepay has come to the conclusion that it can no longer effect financial transfers between U.S. players and online gaming sites, even as of President Bush's signing of the bill into law, casts serious questions towards everyone's favorite argument that these foreign institutions will not be affected by the law because they are somehow not subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Remember, Neteller is a public company in Europe just like PartyGaming is, so whatever eventualities party is facing from being public will be more or less the same things faced by Neteller. We are really in a state of flux right now as far as what this all means for the near-term future of online poker. If Neteller too decides that it must cut U.S. players off from transfers to or from online gaming sites now, there will be a real push to see what other methods, if any, are available to Joe Q. American to get his money into and out of these poker sites.

As all this shakes out over probably just the next few days, we may well be faced with the unhappy situation of having two major poker sites available to U.S. players in pokerstars and full tilt, but yet no way to effectively get money into and out of these sites. What will that mean for traffic at these sites over the near-term?

How many of you out there would be willing to continue playing with your existing bankrolls at your poker sites of choice, knowing that there may be any number of complications involved with making any withdrawals to any financial medium which is useful to you? Is anyone comfortable enough that some option will pop up that you would be willing to keep a significant enough part of your roll in the online poker sites, and continue playing and trying to make the big score even if Firepay and Neteller go the way of partypoker as of Friday afternoon? I'm not even sure what I will do myself, but I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on these latest developments and the questions I've asked above.


Blogger HighOnPoker said...

I may've already mentioned this, but back in the day, I routinely withdrawed by requesting a check by mail from some poker sites. The check usually came 2-3 weeks later, but at least it came.

More likely though, IF Neteller succumbs to the pressure to cut off US players (although it doesn't look that way), some other company will pop up. There is just too much money to be made.

11:52 PM  
Blogger L'artiste said...

Are the games worth playing if the fish don’t exist anymore? That’s really what I’m worried about. I doubt that average Johnny who doesn’t mind busting his roll and reloading on a whim through a few clicks on Neteller will be bothered to load up his account via an offshore Bermuda bank account.

Again, what’s the point of staying if the games are not profitable anymore?

11:56 PM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

I have to agree with Jordan. I think Neteller is going to stick around. FirePay didn't change their Terms and Conditions at all, which Neteller has done. Neteller also has a highly lucrative situation at the moment since it's the only EFT company who is currently accepting transactions from gambling websites for U.S. gamblers.

I'm going to do what I've been doing, which is waiting to see what happens. Currently, the only place I have money is FT and Stars and both of those companies would be able to get my money to me by check, if nothing else.

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to put my monies in FT and PS. Since I started my bankroll with nothing and have not made a withdrawal or deposit for a few years I doubt that I will need to in the near future. Not with the stakes and way I'm playing (as you all saw last night at The Mookie).

Also, not all fish come from the US.

2:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am hoping NeTeller stays around. I have yet to figure out what to do with the money I have at Firepay. Don't know if I will move it today to PStars or FTP or take it out to use for live play. It isn't a significant amount but it ain't chump change either.

3:54 AM  
Blogger Eye Doc said...

I will not be making any further deposits anywhere, but I've never had problems using my debit card for that. As far as cash outs, I would stay away from any site that won't send you a check in the mail, and doesn't have a requirement that the check be for a relatively large amount. For example, full Tilt won't send a check for less than $300, while pokerroom will send a check for anything over $25. For some of us that have small bankrolls, Full Tilt's policy could present a problem.

9:00 PM  
Blogger MattHelm111 said...

As long as Neteller stays around, there doesn't seem to be any issue. If they did go away, I think some enterprising offshore banks would jump into mix. Its actually already really easy and cheap to open an offshore account. And if they have any clue, some banks must be already looking into how to streamline the process for online gamblers. Definetly no way the US could stop you transfering to money to an offshore bank, and once its there you can do what you want with it. Personally, I've just been waiting for an excuse to get one :)

3:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the legislation which aims to ban credit cards as a payment method for online gambling of any sort... and i think it should be enforced worldwide – not just in America. In fact, gambling with a credit card should be banned full stop. Not just on the internet. It’s a no brainer when you consider you are placing backing the outcome of an uncertain event with somebody else’s money. Chance and credit do not mix well in my opinion, and continuing to allow it would only contribute further in negatively affecting the high levels of personal debt many citizens today find themselves in. I do however, think that the prohibition won't work; or at least it won’t be received well amongst gamblers - I mean what’s the point in banning a credit card payment made on an online poker game, for example, but continuing to allow online sports betting? Slightly hypocritical, no? I mean how can you allow someone to participate [with or without a credit card] in online horse racing betting, but not put any money on a hand of texas hold’em poker? both activities involve a large degree of chance, and neither are guaranteed to yield financial return.
What really infuriates me however, is that the minority of irresponsible gamblers [those paying with someone elses money!] have now ruined the fun of online betting for everyone else - those like me who pay with money they actually have in their bank!!
At least for the Americans there is always the free online poker games!

11:10 PM  

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