Online poker players in the U.S. were shaken on April 15 when the federal government shut down the country’s three biggest poker websites. Suddenly, players were without their favorite sites and could not access the funds that they kept there. Now, players are beginning to pick up the pieces. Since there is no federal law against playing online poker, only against the poker operators and banks processing funds in the United States, many are seeking to return to the game. But with the largest, safest, and most reputable options eliminated, what’s next for online poker players?
The Department of Justice announced on April 20 that all implicated poker companies are free to reimburse players’ deposited funds, and that the DOJ would facilitate this process. While the companies’ domain names were seized by the federal government, two of the three affected websites — PokerStars and Full Tilt — are currently operational in the United States for the limited purpose of processing players’ withdrawals. The third poker operator, Absolute Poker, has not yet announced a similar agreement with the DOJ but has issued a statement indicating that player refunds are its “top priority.”
A statement issued by PokerStars assured players that their deposits are kept separate from the company’s operating funds and are completely safe.
Players can already cash out through PokerStars’ website, although processing and delivery of funds may be delayed due to the expected high volume of requests. Full Tilt is expected to announce its plans for players’ withdrawal of funds as well. In the end, all players are expected to receive a full refund of the funds they had in their accounts at the time the websites were shut down.
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