Apparent Fed Crackdown on Online Poker Money Transfers

E-check withdrawals and deposits blocked

by , Jun 6, 2009 | 7:45 am

Normally we wouldn’t think much of a thread on 2+2 about some withdrawal problems at a major American-friendly online site. Usually these problems get resolved in a matter of days or maybe weeks, but this time something’s different.

Developing …

We’ll hold off on saying too much until we get more solid information, but basically, checks from PokerStars are “bouncing”, particularly with New York banks. Instant E-checks seems to be the payment processor most notably affected at present. However, it’s not just e-checks … paper checks are proving uncashable, too. Reliable sources tell us that this is not just a little snafu, but that it’s the direct result of DOJ enforcement actions somehow connected to the Federal Court in New York’s Southern District.

This is the same court, of course, that handled Neteller way back when, and more recently came to non-prosecution agreements guilty plea settlements with Anurag Dikshit et al. While the Party Poker dudes are officially in the clear,* is it possible the Feds are now saying, hey, that was fun, and we got a lot of money … let’s try it again with those PokerStars guys!?!

The FBI offers more clarity on who’s agreed to what between Party Poker peeps and the Feds here.

The best I can tell, right now Stars seems to be the target. No confirmation on the fates of Full Tilt and UB payment processing.

UPDATE: Problems at Full Tilt, too. (Thanks, Ken, for the info/link!) And Ultimate Bet.

Regardless, whatever shakes down (pun intended), it raises a lot of questions at an interesting time, considering how much big money gets transfered passed between poker players — particularly in the summer — often on an online site in exchange for casino chips and/or bricks of cash.

Might the value of the Euro have just gone up, at least in the poker economy? Seems plausible if they’re the only ones able to convert online bankrolls into real American WSOP buy-in dollars.

* Cases against (with?) two other Party principals, Ruth Parasol and Russ DeLeon, are still pending in the same court.


  • OneMoreClueThanYou

    “reliable sources” is code for “we need hits to our site.”

  • http://pokerati.com/about-us/#danm DanM

    yes, you are exactly right. please send them our way. no major developments forthcoming.

  • http://www.pokerperambulation.com KenP
  • http://pokerati.com/?author=117 California Jen

    I’d like to know if anyone HAS cashed out in the past week or so with any success. That could mean there’s just a glitch. But if everyone starts to report the same problem… Uh oh.

    Dan, did the source tell you how serious of a crackdown this might be? Are they coming out with all paperwork and misunderstood rules ablazing?

  • http://pokerati.com/about-us/#danm DanM

    that’s a good question jen, and i don’t know the answer to it.

    i might be misleading by saying it’s going after PokerStars and eChecks … it’s possible the “crackdown” is on some banks.

    we can’t forget the good ole fashioned brick-and-mortar banks. they clearly play into this, too.

  • http://pokerati.com/?author=117 California Jen

    Technically, though, banks aren’t required to comply until December 1st, 2009. That’s what makes me think they aren’t going after banks exactly…just going through banks to get to the big sites.

  • Alicia

    the info that’s on the Full Tilt link above looks a lot like the problems I had with cash-outs last year during this same time last year. They would “send” EFTs that would never show and then credit it back to my account a month or so later with some extra cash for my trouble. Then they’d “send” a check that would never show or send an email to me saying not to cash it if it does show b/c it will bounce. So they’d then credit the money back to my online account along with some more money for my trouble. When I pull my records from last year… it happened right before and lasted until after the WSOP was over… then suddenly all was good again.

    So I’m not so sure that this has anything to do with UIGEA or regulations as much as it has to do with cash flow mgmt on behalf of the poker sites with a very plausible excuse to hide behind.

  • http://twitter.com/donkeybomber donkey bomber

    Checks bouncing is a bad way to say it. That implies they don’t have the funds to cover the check. Dan, you’ve had plenty of expereience with this to not make that mistake.

  • http://pokerati.com/about-us/#danm DanM

    Tom, you are probably right that I could’ve been more clear … but “bouncing” is technically correct. According to IDozeEveryone on 2+2:

    well i called the bank the check is stamped ‘refer to maker’ and yes it bounced and was not deposited into my account…the representative told me that there is 3 stamps that go on checks when they are rejected “NSF”, “account closed”, “refer to maker”

    I’ve also heard “refer to sender” … but regardless, same results … the check or cheque “bounces” back to whomever sent it.

    The implication isn’t that the money’s not there … it’s that it can’t get through whatever gates stand between it and your usual American bank account.

  • http://www.pokerbully.blogspot.com Poker_Bully

    I received a $300 cashout directly to my bank account from Full Tilt on Wednesday June 3. It took about 3 days from the time I requested it on the site.

    I hope this is just a minor issue with a few customers. It would suck if I win my Main Event seat in a satellite and can’t get the money off the site to buy in.

  • http://pokerati.com/about-us/#danm DanM

    good to hear. where are you located?

  • Davon Wilkins

    Anarug Dikshit did not receive a “non prosecution” agreement. He plead guilty to one count of a wire act violation. No agreements have been made with the other PP founders, only with existing management of PP and the current iteration of the company.

  • http://pokerati.com/about-us/#danm DanM

    Ahh, thank you for the clarification, Davon. I thought you were wrong, but indeed you are correct:

    http://newyork.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel09/nyfo040709.htm

  • http://www.rgc2005.com Rob C

    I agree with your assessment that this is nothing more than a money grab by the US Atty for SDNY. Better known as “Legalized Extortion” they are going to keep going after online poker until we via the PPA spot them. I hope the sites stand up and fight in a court of law.

  • tony n

    The gov should stop airplanes from flying into buildings and leave the poker players alone. wtf

  • Aaron

    Great, 30 million to the government that otherwise would have been put into various small starving economies nationwide. The sad part is that of that 30 mill, most of the players cashing out are still losing players. Just because they cash out doesn’t make them a “winning” player. The government just put them in the hole deeper. They are attacking the small man as well as the big guy. A chicken hawk like move that could have been avoided with an amnesty period or something of the like. I feel confident that all sites will “make good” on the frozen money. They already have for me by extra money in my account. Good luck to all players and lest not forget our president, Barack OBama himself, admits to playing online poker.

  • Luis Irizarry

    I just recently cashed out from Poker Stars without any problem.

  • http://pokerati.com/about-us/#danm DanM

    thanks for the update and info luis. by what method, btw?

  • Luis Irizarry

    They sent me a check, it took 1 week to clear, but it did.

  • http://pokerstars brick

    what about pending e checks that i already used the money from are they still coming out of my bank account