American online poker players (and people who make money from blogging about poker) have reason to be concerned.
As of January 18th, NETELLER, one of the largest publicly-traded companies that does online money transfers, will no longer allow US members (that includes yours truly) to use NETeller to transfer money to and from online poker rooms. Why? Because they don’t want to get in trouble with the UIGEA – i.e. the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which has effectively banned online poker after George W signed it into law in October of 2006.
Why did NETELLER take this action now? I am inclined to believe that it is due to what happened this Monday, MLK day. Two of the former directors and founding shareholders of NETELLER, Stephenn Lawrence (46) and John Lefebrve (55) (see pic on right of Lefebrve), were charged with laundering billions of dollars (around 7 billion dollars, according to prosecutors). They face a maximum of twenty years in jail. Besides being shareholders, neither man has any current connection with NETELLER, according to the company. Even if this is true, it is difficult to believe that their arrest has nothing to do NETELLER’s decision to close its doors to American gamblers.
I can still use NETELLER. I just can’t use it to play poker. What about the hard earned cash ($284.06) that I have sitting in NETELLER (fortunately I have no money in any online poker site)? Will I be able to withdraw this money and deposit it back into my bank account using EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer)? From what I’ve read, the answer is “yes”, but it will take between two to four weeks to get it out because the company that processes these electronic transactions has terminated its business dealings with NETELLER.
Everyone is feeling the heat.