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Update on U.S. Federal Action Against Online Poker Sites
Poker Stars and Full Tilt issue statements, but Cereus declines...and has Rival abandoned the US market?
Media around the world were still buzzing Saturday with the news of the US federal crackdown on some of the Internet's biggest online poker sites, announced on Friday.
New developments have included statements from Full Tilt and Pokerstars, although UB.com and Absolute Poker have declined to comment, and persistent rumours that Rival-powered white labels have started refusing to register new US players.
PokerStars issued a statement through a pop-up on its poker client advising it has suspended real-money play in the United States. The statement read:
"As you may have heard, we have had to suspend real money poker services to people based in the U.S. due to legal developments there.
"The developments are confined to the U.S. and do not have any impact on your ability to continue using our services. Please be assured player balances are safe. There is no cause for concern. For all customers outside the U.S. it is business as usual."
The statement further informs that the PokerStars website has been moved to Pokerstars.eu.
Full Tilt Poker has released a further statement on its position, voicing support for those of its executives named in the indictments, and also noting that it has ceased to offer its real money services to US players.
The latest statement reads: "Full Tilt Poker is saddened by the charges against its CEO Raymond Bitar and offers its full support to Mr. Bitar and Nelson Burtnick."
"Online poker is a game of skill enjoyed by tens of millions of people in the United States and across the world. And, Full Tilt Poker remains as committed as ever to preserving the rights of those players to play the game they love online.
"Mr. Bitar and Full Tilt Poker believe online poker is legal – a position also taken by some of the best legal minds in the United States. Full Tilt Poker is, and has always been committed to preserving the integrity of the game and abiding by the law."
Bitar comments: “I am surprised and disappointed by the government’s decision to bring these charges. I look forward to Mr. Burtnick’s and my exoneration.”
Also on Saturday, Full Tilt advised that in view of the US situation, its planned Onyx Cup poker series has been cancelled.
Blanca Games, the present owners of Absolute Poker and UB.com have so far declined to comment.
Michael Waxman, executive director of the trade association Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative commented on the indictments, saying: “Since the government is seeking to crack down on the freedom of the internet, we need Congress to act more than ever now to legalize and regulate the activity. This is a major development that will bring more attention to this issue. I hope it encourages Congress to move more quickly, especially as concerned Americans look for answers and a solution.”
Several players have reported being told by support representatives at Rival-powered white label online casinos that these operations were no longer accepting new US players. Some players have reported that they have confirmed this ban by trying unsuccessfully to register.
The reports set off a round of speculation on whether this was true and, if so, was a consequence of the federal action in the US Friday. However, there have been no official public statements on these allegations from Rival or the operators concerned.
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