Players Only and Sportsbook Poker, two members of the largest poker network available to US residents, will no longer accept new registrations from the United States after May 1st, 2011.
Online PR News – 29-April-2011 – – TOPS-Poker.org learned in an exclusive interview on Friday that as of May 1st, 2011, Players Only will no longer accept new US customers to their online poker room. Although no specific details were revealed on why this sudden announcement was made, many speculate that it can not be a coincidence that the world's largest poker site is pulling out of the US market just weeks after watching Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker being forbidden from soliciting US customers for real money online gaming. Sportsbook Poker will also be closing its doors to US customers on the same date; leading some experts to believe that there may be additional inquiries on the part of the Department of Justice in the near future.
"These companies have invested millions of dollars in advertising, poker sponsorships, and television contracts inside the United States," said Kevin Hastings, an employee at Tops Poker, "and they're suddenly realizing that the US government does not want them here. Even though international law clearly states that these online poker shutdowns are illegal, it does not seem to be stopping the US government for one second."
The domain seizures on behalf of the FBI and the Department of Justice last week were justified by government officials because a clause within the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act that made any financial transactions through US based banks illegal for online gambling sites. Allegedly, each of the poker rooms that were shut down were doing just that, which was why there were eleven arrests made on April 15th of US employees within the financial sector. A host of criminal charges were filed including money laundering, wire fraud, and several other serious felonies.
"When the poker shutdowns first happened back on Black Friday," Hastings added, "nobody really knew what to think. All of our readers were emailing us asking about their deposits at those sites, and once they found out that they were getting their money back it seemed like it would be business as usual. With Players Only and Sportsbook Poker leaving the United States, however, that doesn't really leave any viable online poker options."
Hastings also made it perfectly clear that the Players Only and Sportsbook Poker pull-backs were not forced by the US government in any way; it was simply a business decision to protect the current US members that play poker on those websites. Both sites will continue to accept deposits from existing members and allow them to play there in the future; this change in policy only affects US-based accounts that are created after Sunday, May 1st, 2011.
"It's really the last major poker network available to US players over the internet," Hastings added, "and there have been hundreds of thousands of new sign-ups on those sites within the past few weeks. I think these companies figured that if the US government would ignore international law to make an example out of Full Tilt and Ultimate Bet, then they'd better do something to ensure that they weren't the next online poker rooms on the US chopping block.
As of today, both Players Only and Sportsbook Poker are still available for US-based gamblers that are looking for a safe alternative for world-class gaming on the internet. Players now have less than 36 hours to create a new account before the restrictions are put in place, but both websites seem to be handling the excess traffic without issue.