Online poker continues to have its ups and downs

Jun 29, 2011 3:54 PM

Online poker continues to have its ups and downs.

Earlier today the Alderney Gambling Control Commission suspended the licenses of Vantage Ltd., Oxalic Ltd., Filco Ltd., and Orinic Ltd., collectively trading as Full Tilt Poker.

"The decision to suspend the eGambling license was in the public interest and, because of the seriousness and urgency of the matter, it required that immediate action be taken ahead of the regulatory hearing," explained Andre Wilsenach, executive director of AGCC.

According to a release from the Commission, "The decision to suspend these licenses follows a special investigation prompted by the indictments unsealed by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office in the Southern District of New York on 15 April 2011, during which grounds were found to indicate that these licensees and their business associates were operating contrary to Alderney legislation."

The hearing has been set for July 26 in London.

In light of the AGCC’s actions and Full Tilt’s alleged failure to date to return funds to U.S. customers, PokerStars, another online poker site that was indicted and charged by the federal government in April for bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offenses, quickly put out a statement to let its customers know it is in full compliance with all gambling jurisdictions in which it currently operates.

The statement also noted, "Since the actions of the U.S. Department of Justice in April, we have returned more than $120 million to U.S. players and continue to act upon requests as they are received. Players outside the U.S. have not been affected and all cash-outs have been processed without delays. Further, PokerStars entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice which expressly confirmed the company’s ability to operate outside the U.S."

On a more positive note, Congressman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced H.R. 2366, the Online Poker Act of 2011, Friday.

The bill has co-sponsors from both parties, including Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), John Campbell (R-Calif.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

As written, H.R. 2366 would allow an automatic opt in for all states with any opt outs made by the respective state governor. States will also only be able to introduce an intrastate framework if a measure is passed prior to any enacting of the federal law.

In addition, there would be an Office of Internet Poker Oversight set up within the Commerce Department to assist with state licenses.

"We want an iron-clad system to make sure that those who play for money are playing in an honest, fair system where they can reap their benefits of their winnings," Barton said.

Poker Players Alliance Chairman Al D’Amato said, "The bill reverses years of unclear policy and restores the freedom of adults to enjoy the great game of poker from the comfort of their own home, with their own money over their own Internet connection."