Archive for Online Poker Funds

Frank Visits WSOP, Discusses Legislation Drive

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2009 by mikewebb82

American political heavyweights are becoming familiar faces at the World Series of Poker. In 2008, former New York Senator and current PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato visited the WSOP with online poker supporter Rep. Robert Wexler.

The 2009 Series saw Rep. Shelley Berkley accompany D’Amato for his second annual trip to the Rio. But on July 5, poker’s staunchest supporter in Congress, Rep. Barney Frank, took time out of his busy schedule as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee to become more familiar with the WSOP with a first-hand perspective.

After being escorted to the Amazon Room at the Rio in Las Vegas just before noon by WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, Frank was introduced to the room full of poker players and fans. He spoke to the crowd with enthusiasm about current poker legislation and the importance of people getting involved by contacting their representatives in Congress to demand action on the issue of online poker. He then issued the “shuffle up and deal” command, toured the Rio Convention Center, and proceeded to hold a scheduled press conference early afternoon.

Frank was one of the many in the Congress appalled by the passage of the UIGEA in 2006 and almost immediately went to work on legislation to repeal the law. While his first attempt was unsuccessful due to the Republican-controlled Congress and promise of the Bush Administration to veto any such efforts, Frank continued to pursue change and introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act of 2009. In addition, he added a second piece of legislation to delay enforcement of the UIGEA until December 2010, and Rep. Jim McDermott followed up with a companion bill to add taxation to the legalization and regulation of internet gaming.

The current status of the bills is that they are awaiting committee hearings, which were recently pushed back to September due to financial regulatory priorities ordered to the top of the hearing schedule by the Obama Administration. Frank discussed the process and his own ideas with regard to the forward movement of the legislation at the July 5 press conference.

“I plan to move this bill,” he said. “As Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, I am now pretty vigilant to adopt a set of rules that will keep us from getting in trouble again… The committee could be done with that by September, so it is my intention this fall to bring up, in the committee, the bills I’m sponsoring, one to suspend the [UIGEA] regulations, the other to repeal the whole ban and substitute a sensible regulatory scheme. I think they’re going to pass.”

Frank did add that although he hopes to get both of his bills passed right away, he is aware of the potential obstacles and understands the need for priorities. If it looks as if the repeal effort will be delayed whatsoever, he will work on “getting the regulations suspended while we work on the other bill.”

During the waiting period for committee hearings, Frank hopes to obtain as many co-sponsors for the bill as necessary. With Ron Paul as the bill’s primary co-sponsor and the number of supporters growing consistently, one name was floated as to her support, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Frank responded that he hadn’t spoken to her about it as of yet, but noted, “I would be surprised if she wasn’t supportive.”

On another topic, a member of the press asked Frank about the recent seizure of online poker funds by the Southern District of New York’s assistant U.S. attorney. Specifically, in response to the notion that the Obama Administration ordered the actions, he responded, “I hope the Obama Administration and Justice Department wouldn’t be part of it. I’m pretty sure that’s the case… But the bottom line is that you can’t have the Justice Department order a subordinate to overlook things. I do intend to pursue with them clarification of what the policy is here.”

Frank’s visit to the World Series of Poker indicated, as does his movement on pro-gaming legislation, that his pursuit of change to the current law is serious and without reservation. 

His commitment to the passage of his bills to regulate online gaming in order to keep it safe and legal is a priority as a powerful member of Congress, and his advocacy on the issue will continue.

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US Asset Freeze Hits PokerStars Hard

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by mikewebb82

A couple of days ago the US Government froze USD 33 Million in player transactions coming from poker sites accepting US players. PokerStars

Poker Stars

Poker Stars

 is the poker room that got hit the hardest while Full Tilt Poker and Cake Poker takes this as an opportunity to build their player base.

The traffic at PokerStars went down by 7 per cent during June. This is a direct effect of the US players having trouble making a deposit using eChecks, which is the most popular deposit option for US players.

FullTilt and Cake Poker on the other hand have taken advantage of the current situation, and they have seen their traffic rise by 3 per cent each in June.

Poker players at Full Tilt Poker were also hit by these problems in the beginning but the people in charge at Full Tilt have been able to set up alternative options for player transactions very quickly. On poker forums around the internet public opinion seems to be that PokerStars have been taking a very long time to solve this issue, and players are not happy with this.

It will be interesting to see how player traffic is going to be affected in coming weeks. Unless PokerStars can find a solid solution to this issue soon, they are likely to lose more market share to FullTilt and Cake Poker.

US Congressmen Introduce Law On Problem Gambling

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by mikewebb82

Last week, Congressmen Jim Moran (D-VA), Lee Terry (R-NE), and Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced bi-partisan legislation to curb the problem of

Money Controls everything???

Money Controls everything???

gambling in the United States. The bill, HR 2906, is dubbed the Comprehensive Problem Gambling Act of 2009.

A revolutionary legislation, the Comprehensive Problem Gambling Act allocates USD 71 million in the next five years for problem gambling public awareness, research, and treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has been given the responsibility of overseeing the program. The National Council on Problem Gambling has been the major driving force behind the legislation, which is among the first of its kind.

The organization’s Executive Director, Keith Whyte, shared his thoughts on why no serious solution for problem gambling has been approved on a national level: “It’s surprising and frustrating. Part of the blame is on us. We’ve been around for 37 years, but part of that reflects the real stigma people have in seeing problem gambling as a preventable and treatable disorder. In addition, by and large, most people believe that gaming should be regulated and taxed at the state level. They are not as quick to see a Federal role.”

HR 2906 is divided into three parts, allocating funds annually to each. The Comprehensive Problem Gambling Act allocates USD 200,000 per year towards public awareness. Information on problem gambling is directed through television, radio, cable, and print advertising. Funds are authorized to focus on “the business sector of the United States” and “professional sports organizations and associations.” Sporting and gambling events are targeted in the campaign, which is directed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

HR 2906 also directs funds towards research of problem gambling. A total of USD 20 million over five years is allocated towards research, which will be coordinated among several Federal agencies including the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Recommendations of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission should also be taken into consideration.

This is not the National Council on Problem Gambling’s first go-around with legislation supporting the organization’s goals. “We’ve had bills introduced in previous Congresses and this is our third go-around. Building support has been incredibly difficult. I think it’s a good example of folks that don’t understand gambling issues in general,” Whyte said. Around 3 to 4 per cent of the American adult population met the criteria for problem gambling, or more than six million people, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling’s press release.

Finally, USD 10 million per year is allocated towards the treatment of problem gambling. The bill notes, “The Secretary may make grants to States, local, and tribal governments, and non-profit agencies to provide comprehensive services for the treatment and prevention of problem gambling and for education about problem gambling.” Grants are permitted for various organizations to target their share of the USD 10 million up for grabs every year.

One of the original co-sponsors of the bill is Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), who introduced a pair of bills on May 6 to alter the landscape of internet gambling in the United States. On Frank’s support for the Comprehensive Problem Gambling Act, Whyte said, “It’s appropriate that Frank is a co-sponsor. He was a co-sponsor of our earlier efforts and has been consistent on this. He has been concerned about these issues in the past. We hope to get 25 co-sponsors in total.” Besides Frank, Congressman Howard Berman (D-VA) is one of HR 2906’s four original co-sponsors.

HR 2906 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

US Fed Freezes Online Gamblers Winnings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by mikewebb82

An online poker player thought he hit it big on the Sunday before Memorial Day. David, a 41-year-old from Virginia who wanted only his first name to be used, won a USD 10,000 entry to the World Series of Poker Main Event.

David was playing at PokerStars.com when he won the tournament entry. He was sent a check from the online poker room and was told to cash it, so that he can buy into the WSOP Main Event for USD 10,000.

He took the check from the check processing company ‘Account Services’ and attempted to cash it on Wednesday, but the check bounced. What he initially thought was a mistake turned out to be an unprecedented move by the US Government to crack down on online poker. That move has so far affected around 27,000 people.

Late last week, the federal government ordered five banks to freeze a payments worth USD 30 million owed to players from companies that process payments from two offshore gambling sites, according to the Poker Players Alliance, a group that represents the interests of the companies and players.

“It’s not like the government went after the money the site made, instead they seized money that belonged to me,” David said. “There is no law that restricts citizens from recovering money.”

According to the alliance, US federal prosecutors working out of New York’s Southern District ordered Citibank, Wells Fargo and three smaller banks to freeze funds in accounts belonging to Allied Systems and Account Services, companies which process funds for the poker sites.
 
Some affected players who gamble at the sites FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com first realized that they could not access funds in their accounts over the weekend, when checks issued from the companies bounced.
 
Online poker, a USD 9 billion to USD 12 billion a year industry, is legally in a grey area, experts say. Washington is the only state with a law that bans residents from playing on the Internet. The sites themselves, however, are not allowed to operate in the United States and are all registered overseas.

“There is no legal precedent for what the government is doing,” said John Pappas, executive director of the alliance. “We contend playing online poker is not unlawful. The government is going after the players’ money, not that of the sites. The fact is, there is no federal law banning online poker,” he said.
 
Though the government maintains that online gambling is illegal, the US attorney’s office in New York would not comment on the case or confirm that an investigation was under way.

According to federal documents obtained by AP, a judge in the Southern District of New York issued a seizure warrant last week for an account at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco. The AP reported that the documents also showed that a federal prosecutor told a bank in Arizona to freeze an account.
 
In a letter dated Friday and faxed to Alliance Bank of Arizona, Arlo Devlin-Brown, the assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York said that accounts held by payment processor Allied Systems Inc. are subject to seizure and forfeiture “as they constitute property involved in money laundering transactions and illegal gambling offenses,” according to AP.

In another letter, Devlin-Brown asked the bank to treat the funds “as legally seized” by the FBI, saying that the government has probable proof that gambling payments made by US residents had been directed to offshore illegal Internet gambling businesses, the AP reported.
 
A source at Citigroup familiar with the government request, however, confirmed the “bank has been contacted and is cooperating” with the authorities. According to the alliance, the laws cited by prosecutors “appear to allege violations of the Wire Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act” and not to a more recent piece of legislation on online gaming called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
 
Another player, Sam Friedman, a 24-year-old accountant from New York City who plays every night in tournaments on FullTiltPoker.com, said he realized the company had last week removed an option to deposit winnings directly into his Citibank account.
 
“There are lots of ways to deposit and withdraw money and payment options are always disappearing, but something didn’t seem right,” Friedman said. “I can’t believe the government is reaching into people’s bank accounts like this,” he said. “For a lot of serious players this is their lifeblood. This is how they make ends meet.”

Both FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com have reimbursed players who tried to cash out and were unable to. “In the light of recent events involving the freezing of certain accounts, Full Tilt Poker would like to assure all players that their funds remain safe and secure,” spokeswoman Michelle Clayborn said in a statement.

“All players who were affected by the current situation have had their funds returned to their accounts,” the statement said. David, the World Series hopeful, said he had been reimbursed by PokerStars and given an additional 10 percent credit.
 
He used his own savings to buy into the World Series and will use the winnings from his championship game online to pay himself back as soon as he gets them, he said.

durrrr Challenge: Dwan surges back near even

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by mikewebb82

Another 786 hands. Another USD 7 million wagered. Six more pots over USD 100k.

Tom Dwan

Tom Dwan

And ultimately almost right back to square one in the durrrr Challenge as Tom Dwan surged back near even Wednesday night, winning over USD 376k and cutting Patrik Antonius’ lead after 16k hands to just USD 34,594.

The fans of Patrik Antonius will claim the last session was unfortunate or was an unlucky streak. Tom Dwan fans will describe it as inevitable. With each session laden with massive pots, it was only a matter of time until another quarter-million-plus profit made the books.

Dwan’s profit in this session came mostly from winning all five of the largest pots of the night, worth well over USD 100k.

The largest pot saw the money go all in on the turn, with Antonius’s turned flush versus Dwan’s flopped set of jacks.

The river paired the board, giving Dwan a full house and the USD 230k pot along with it.

After a night as big as this, and given Dwan’s propensity for busting out early at the WSOP these days, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some more Challenge action go down tonight.

Check back in the MarketPulse section for hand replays and updates, or log in to Full Tilt and watch the action as it happens.

durrrr Challenge by the numbers:
• 107,475,899: Total amount wagered in the challenge
• 9,000,000: Approximate cost of the original IBM computers
• 376,597: Amount Antonius lost in the latest session
• 40,000: Cost for a night in the Hugh Hefner suite at the Palms
• 34,594: Amount Antonius is ahead
• 16,124: Total hands played so far
• 4,737: Average pot size
• 60: Number of people you needed to run your original IBM computer
• 32: Percentage of challenge completed

US Government Freezes USD 30 Million Online Poker Funds

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 10, 2009 by mikewebb82
The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York has frozen around USD 30 million belonging to 24,000 poker players, says statements released by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and the Associated Press.
The funds were seized due to violations of the Wire Act of 1961 and the Illegal Gambling Business Act, says the PPA statement. Traditionally the former has applied to online sports books. A Southern District judge issued a warrant for “an account at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco and a federal prosecutor told a bank in Arizona to freeze the account,” the Associated Press said.
On June 4, a total of USD 19 million was frozen in banks in Scottsdale and Los Angeles and, the PPA said, “It is important to stress the fact that in at least two cases, the prosecutor acted and the banks responded without a warrant.”
None of the Southern District Court’s actions appear to originate from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which was passed during the closing days of the 2006 Congressional session at the behest of then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). The PPA released a statement late Tuesday afternoon saying, “The PPA is disappointed at this unprecedented action against law abiding poker players. The payment processor funds frozen by the Southern District of New York belongs to individual poker players and not operators of poker websites and do not represent the proceeds of any gambling activity, much less illegal gambling.”
Assistant US Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown sent a letter on Friday to the Alliance Bank of Arizona calling for the seizure of accounts held by the payment processor Allied Systems. In response, the PPA sent a letter yesterday to the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District Court requesting a say in the process. The PPA has over one million members and is fresh off a victory in Minnesota, where the state’s Department of Public Safety rescinded an order to block access to 200 internet gambling domain names by residents.
The PPA added that the organization has been in contact with online poker sites whose checks have bounced and has been told that all players will be reimbursed. A member of the Poker News Daily staff received a check from PokerStars dated June 1 backed by a bank in California, which cleared three days later without incident. PokerStars currently offers eChecks for depositing and withdrawing. Paper checks are the site’s only other method of cashing out for players from the United States. Paper checks are available for all denominations, and is sent by first class mail or courier within 15 business days. Full Tilt Poker also offers eChecks.
Associated Press said that a federal prosecutor claimed that the funds in question were seized “as they constituted property involved in money laundering transactions and illegal gambling.” When asked for comments by Poker News Daily, PokerStars Press Office Donna McLoughlin responded, “PokerStars has not made any comments on this so far. I don’t have any information for you.”
Meanwhile, members of the online poker community are reacting to the news. On PocketFives.com, one poster expressed his outrage at the lack of a clear response from PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site. “The payment processor where I got my Stars check from is part of this. Stars won’t really give me a straight answer.” Rich “TheEngineer” Muny commented on the same forum, “PPA will stand strong here. We have a nice record to date of winning in courts and we’re not planning to start losing now.”
In 2007, there was a similar incident involving Neteller. In July 2007, the company reached an agreement with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to return frozen money to players. Approximately USD 60 million was seized. Neteller quickly exited the US market and agreed to pay a USD 136 million fine. In January 2007, Neteller founders John LeFebvre and Steve Lawrence were arrested on US soil, which set off the funds seizure.

The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York has frozen around USD 30 million belonging to 24,000 poker players, says statements released by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and the Associated Press.

The funds were seized due to violations of the Wire Act of 1961 and the Illegal Gambling Business Act, says the PPA statement. Traditionally the former has applied to online sports books. A Southern District judge issued a warrant for “an account at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco and a federal prosecutor told a bank in Arizona to freeze the account,” the Associated Press said.

On June 4, a total of USD 19 million was frozen in banks in Scottsdale and Los Angeles and, the PPA said, “It is important to stress the fact that in at least two cases, the prosecutor acted and the banks responded without a warrant.”

None of the Southern District Court’s actions appear to originate from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which was passed during the closing days of the 2006 Congressional session at the behest of then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). The PPA released a statement late Tuesday afternoon saying, “The PPA is disappointed at this unprecedented action against law abiding poker players. The payment processor funds frozen by the Southern District of New York belongs to individual poker players and not operators of poker websites and do not represent the proceeds of any gambling activity, much less illegal gambling.”

Assistant US Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown sent a letter on Friday to the Alliance Bank of Arizona calling for the seizure of accounts held by the payment processor Allied Systems. In response, the PPA sent a letter yesterday to the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District Court requesting a say in the process. The PPA has over one million members and is fresh off a victory in Minnesota, where the state’s Department of Public Safety rescinded an order to block access to 200 internet gambling domain names by residents.

The PPA added that the organization has been in contact with online poker sites whose checks have bounced and has been told that all players will be reimbursed. A member of the Poker News Daily staff received a check from PokerStars dated June 1 backed by a bank in California, which cleared three days later without incident. PokerStars currently offers eChecks for depositing and withdrawing. Paper checks are the site’s only other method of cashing out for players from the United States. Paper checks are available for all denominations, and is sent by first class mail or courier within 15 business days. Full Tilt Poker also offers eChecks.

Associated Press said that a federal prosecutor claimed that the funds in question were seized “as they constituted property involved in money laundering transactions and illegal gambling.” When asked for comments by Poker News Daily, PokerStars Press Office Donna McLoughlin responded, “PokerStars has not made any comments on this so far. I don’t have any information for you.”

Meanwhile, members of the online poker community are reacting to the news. On PocketFives.com, one poster expressed his outrage at the lack of a clear response from PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site. “The payment processor where I got my Stars check from is part of this. Stars won’t really give me a straight answer.” Rich “TheEngineer” Muny commented on the same forum, “PPA will stand strong here. We have a nice record to date of winning in courts and we’re not planning to start losing now.”

In 2007, there was a similar incident involving Neteller. In July 2007, the company reached an agreement with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to return frozen money to players. Approximately USD 60 million was seized. Neteller quickly exited the US market and agreed to pay a USD 136 million fine. In January 2007, Neteller founders John LeFebvre and Steve Lawrence were arrested on US soil, which set off the funds seizure.