Sportsbook Poker announced that it is closing it's doors to new US players on May 1st, 2011.
Online PR News – 27-April-2011 – – TOPS-Poker.org reports that the sudden surge of poker players from the United States seeking a new domain to call home has several online companies nervous about how the US government will react in the wake of the online poker shutdown conducted by the Department of Justice. Sportsbook Poker and Players Only, two of the most popular destinations since this ordeal began, have decided that they will play it safe and block all new American users from their website after May 1st, 2011. Existing users from the United States will be able to play at the popular poker rooms without any limitations after that date; creating a rare "now or never" type of scenario in the world of online gaming.
"If you asked me if something like this was possible six months ago, I would have said no way...it would never happen," said Steven Hastings, a company spokesman for TOPS. "For Sportsbook Poker to come out and say that they're not accepting any more US players after May 1st; it's the craziest thing I've heard all week. I respect them for trying to protect their existing client base but this is crazy...it's definitely a bold move."
Hastings went on to explain that the domain seizures of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, Ultimate Bet, and Absolute Poker must be a subject of frequent conversation for executives at every online poker room; they definitely do not want to pick a fight with the United States over the validity of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. While online poker is not expressly prohibited under the UIGEA, the legislation makes it very difficult for foreign poker rooms to accommodate US customers because of the financial restrictions placed on banks.
"Sportsbook Poker has always maintained that they are in complete agreement with the UIGEA," said Hastings, "but then again, so did Full Tilt Poker and the others. Look at what Absolute Poker is going through right now, with the tough decisions they have to make. Partially getting out of the US market is probably a wise move for Sportsbook Poker and the others."
The Cereus Poker Network, which owns Absolute Poker and UB, has recently made global news of their own when they refused to accept the terms offered by the US Attorney's Office in order to receive their domains back from the government. While it is unknown whether or not an actual agreement will be reached, a hearing within the World Trade Organization can not appear too appealing for Cereus. This same subject has already been argued twice in front of the WTO with two favorable verdicts for Antigua, which is the small tropical island where the Cereus Poker network is based.
"When you're talking about international law," Hastings added at an April 27th press conference, "it's not always as easy as two sides presenting their viewpoints and a judge or panel making a decision. This kind of process can take years and nobody wants that fight. If US players still want to play online poker in the near future, they'd better get over to Sportsbook Poker fast and sign up before that window of opportunity is gone forever."