Lots of news out there, and none of it good. eWallets are suspending US operations right and left. Eventually, you're going to have to drive to the airport, fly to some obscure Carribbean island, and go to the world headquarters of Doyle's Ultimate Contact Tilt Dog Stars poker sites, and hand them your $50 so that you can play some $.10/.25 PLO/8. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end. Wil Wheaton had a great post on Card Squad, and Bill Rini had a great post on his blog as well. Definitely check them out.
My last couple of posts focused on the fact that it was (at the time) just Neteller that was being pinched. All the other executives appeared to be wise enough to stay outside of US territories and thus avoid being arrested. Now it seems that the financial ramifications that Neteller experienced when they had trading suspended on the London Stock Exchange and decided to suspend/eliminate US operations is having a ripple effect thru the industry. The eWallets are closing off US operations. Party, Paradise, Victor Chandler, and several other lesser-known gaming sites have prohibited US citizens from real money games. How long will it be before the other big sites start to feel the heat? When Party left, I took heart in what Stars, Tilt, UB, and the others were saying, that they were bound and determined to stay, etc etc. The Neteller Instacash thing was the first real warning shot (besides Party and Paradise) that I saw, but like so many of you I figured that it would be a while before the rest of Neteller's operations would get shuttered. Additionally, I figured that the majority of this problem arose from the fact that two former executives were stupid enough to set foot on US soil, despite knowing that they were wanted men. The news articles I'd seen seemed to indicate that the other executives were all planning to avoid visiting US territories and would, thus, keep their companies out of the glare from the 40 watt bulb being used on the Neteller guys.
I posted on my blog Wednesday night and Thursday night, a list as best as I could figure out of what eWallets were still functioning, at least on PokerStars (I have their client on a thumb drive at work, heh heh heh). Then the news of Citadel broke and another buddy of mine called me to tell me that half of the wallets I looked at had announced that they were suspending US operations. According to PokerStars’ US Players FAQ page, Neteller, Central Coin, and Instant eChecks are no longer available to US players. They do recommend ePassporte, which is apparently an online reloadable Visa card, and still accept other Visa/MC cards and cashier’s checks/money orders. Full Tilt is showing a similarly reduced roster of payment options, including ePassporte, Click2Pay, and Cash Transfer.
The sky does seem to be falling. The first step is eliminating the "easy" ways for us "terrorism supporters" to send our money to the gaming sites. Once that's done, all that will be left are the players who have existing bankrolls at the sites. The next step for the jack-booted thugs is to go after the players themselves. ISPs are going to be subpoenaed, bank records are going to be reviewed, and any deposit even from a paper check whose name can be tied back to a gaming site will come under scrutiny. At best, these players will somehow be taxed on their "income". At worst, they're going to be rung up on charges similar (in nature, if not scale) of the two Neteller guys. Finally, the big US stars are going to have to withdraw their support of the various sites (Team PokerStars, Team Full Tilt, Negraneu, Hellmuth, Doyle, et al) or emigrate somewhere so as to avoid their being pinched for supporting/participating in what has apparently become an illegal activity.
What it all means is: Home Game at My House! Everyone bring a case of beer and a hundred bucks. Just don't tell anybody...