The Cereus Poker Network finally reached an agreement with the US Attorney's office today; say goodbye to Absolute Poker and UB.
Online PR News – 11-May-2011 – – TOPS-Poker.org learned today that after almost a month-long standstill between the Cereus Poker Network and the Department of Justice, websites Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet finally decided to comply with US demands in order to begin facilitating refunds to their American customers. Although Cereus has always maintained that refunding these accounts back to their former players has always been a top priority, they claim that their efforts were blocked because of the banking regulations that landed them in trouble in the first place.
As part of the agreement to facilitate refunds to US customers, the Cereus Poker Network agreed to stop accepting real-money betting accounts from North America; similar to the deal that was accepted last month by Full Tilt Piker and PokerStars. This agreement does not return the UB and Absolute domains back to Cereus, however, and it is unknown at this time if they will pursue them during a future negotiation with the US State Attorney's Office.
"This case is interesting because the Cereus Poker Network is essentially receiving nothing in return for refunding US-based players and then abandoning their customer base here," said Steven Hastings, a spokesperson for TOPS-Poker. "There is definitely more to this story than what we are hearing; you'd better believe that there some very private negotiations taking place in order to settle this matter quietly behind closed doors."
Hastings also shared that TOPS believes US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and like-minded sponsors are extremely close to acquiring enough votes to pass new legislation that would completely legalize, regulate, and tax the online poker industry within the US. Although opposition within the Senate still questions the morality of online poker and the lasting effect of gambling on our youth, even they agree that the tax revenue from an estimated $8 billion dollar a year industry is far too difficult to ignore.
"As much as some elected officials want to play the morality card here and vote against online poker, "added Hastings on Wednesday, "they know that the extra tax revenue within their states is sorely needed. Millions of Americans were already playing online poker at sites like Full Tilt and many of them switched right over to Lock Poker within hours of the government shutdown. Most gamblers would tell their Congressman that poker is as American as apple pie, the Statue of Liberty, or baseball...this legislation is completely necessary and far overdue."
While it is unknown about the eventual fate of online poker inside the United States, experts agree that any further delays on the part of Congress to pass new legislation will only allow foreign-based poker rooms to once again seize control of the industry. While actual statistics are not available from the various poker rooms that have benefited from the Full Tilt and PokerStars shutdowns, it is believed that almost 70% of their prior subscription bases now play at Lock Poker and similar websites.
"With each passing day, hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential tax revenue walks out of the United States and into the hands of foreign companies that are willing to service US players immediately," added Hastings. "Any further delays in legislation could make it almost impossible for the big US casinos to capitalize on this opportunity."