It has now come to light that federal prosecutors requested four American banks freeze tens of millions of dollars in payments owed to online poker players.
The frozen payments totaling at least $33 million are owed to 27,000 players at offshore poker sites, including PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, according to John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). Pappas said in the last two weeks prosecutors have asked Citibank, Wells Fargo, Goldwater Bank, and Alliance Bank of Arizona to freeze funds in accounts belonging to two companies, Allied Systems and Account Services, that process payouts on behalf of the poker sites.
The government action caused a stir this past weekend when checks issued to poker players by the two companies began bouncing.
PPA also asserted in a letter sent to the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York that “We are also concerned that the Southern District has selectively taken action against online poker when the current law regarding the activity is far from clear, and policies from various levels of government are inconsistent at best. In fact, no federal or state court has ever found a payment processor or a player accessing an Internet poker site to have violated the federal laws alleged by the Southern District in this case.”
Clearly, the online poker industry reacted badly to this situation by not informing players sooner as to what had occurred, which in consequence provoked no small amount of anxiety among those whose payouts were interrupted. The bottom line is, the PPA, who were in the loop from the very beginning, should have informed their membership immediately, given them a heads up, and not having done so in a timely manner are guilty, at minimum, of having committed a serious breach of trust.
PokerStars and Full Tilt have replaced the seized funds in player’s accounts, along with a small bonus.
Statement from Full Tilt Poker:
In light of recent events involving freezing of certain poker players’ money in the United States of America, Full Tilt Poker would like to assure all players that their funds remain safe and secure. Processing of both deposit and withdrawal requests is proceeding as normal and is still available to all of our players in the US.
The issue involving the freezing of some funds affected only one of the many check processors that Full Tilt Poker uses to support player withdrawals. We do not expect any further interruption in check withdrawals or any other withdrawal methods, and any player who wishes to make a withdrawal should expect normal processing times. 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.
We assure all of the players on Full Tilt Poker that your online playing experience will not change and that you will be able to both deposit and withdraw funds as needed. Your money remains safe, secure and always accessible at all times.
Full Tilt Poker remains committed to the protection of our players’ security and legal rights, and will continue to provide the best – and safest – online poker room available worldwide.