Monday, December 13, 2010

My next question

I have asked a couple of times, basically, why anybody is in favor of proposals such as the Reid bill, when the status quo, while not ideal, is perfectly workable. (See here and here.) Reading more over the past several days--especially, but not exclusively, Foucault's thoughtful perspective--has made me come to believe that the problem with the current situation that I have perhaps been underestimating is a growing difficulty in funds transfers.

This seems to be punctuated by news today that yet another prominent player in this game is pulling out (hat tip: Pokerati): http://makepokerlegal.com/blog/2010/12/13/ewalletxpress-quits-united-states-market/

I personally have not had more than minor glitches with either deposits or withdrawals, which is why, from my point of view, there doesn't seem to be any compelling reason to change anything. Maybe there is more to this issue than I have appreciated. Maybe it is, in fact, the reason that the PPA and others seem desperate to pass this legislation, even though it means an extended blackout period, cutting the U.S. off from the rest of the world when poker returns, hefty taxes, and enormous overhead costs to comply with a complex regulatory scheme.

But I'm still unclear about it. Why do the sites need to use financial intermediaries at all? I have not needed to use a funds-transfer middleman for deposits at either the big sites (Full Tilt and Stars can take the money directly from my checking account, last time I needed to reload) or the small ones (e.g., when I opened an account on the Everleaf network in September I was able to use an ordinary Visa card).

As for cashing out, I don't see why the sites can't just issue ordinary business checks and pop them in the mail. I doubt that my bank is going to refuse to honor a check just because it comes from overseas and has the name of a poker site on it. My memory is hazy, but it seems to me that my first cashout from FTP was in the form of a check openly drawn on FTP's account, from a Canadian bank--but that was back in 2007, I think, so I might be misremembering.

Again, as a small-time player in the online world, and one who only occasionally makes either deposits or withdrawals, maybe I'm just not sufficiently tuned in to what has been going on in this arena. I just don't understand why the sites need to rely on third-party money movers at all, but there might be an elephant in the room that I'm not seeing.

9 comments:

Grange95 said...

A third-party middleman provides plausible deniability for avoiding the UIGEA, the Travel Act, etc. Seriously, look up the Travel Act, note the provision barring use if the mail system to pay for illegal gaming profits, and ask yourself how Full Tilt and PokerStars intend to pay off their former Washington state customers.

Rakewell said...

Perhaps that is why my last couple of payouts from Bodog have come by FedEx letter rather than USPS.

The Poker Meister said...

I've requested 2 payouts recently - both of which were in the $2K range. Both of them were rejected by the bank for "insufficient funds." In other words, the US government has gone after and seized the third party payees. Fortunately, FTP has been generous enough to refund my declined check fee (actually, more than the amount - $100).

The latest withdrawal attempt for me has 3x withdrawals as "bank transfers", and I've been waiting for approx. 2 weeks for it to go through.

Conan776 said...

The DOJ has a much more solid legal basis for going after processors who are dealing with casino gambling and sportsbooks, than with processors who handle poker alone.

So you ask a pretty good question when it comes to FTP and Stars, but outsourcing does lay off any heat to a third party while they never need to litigate in court as to whether the Wire Act (and Travel Act) covers poker.

Doing business with Bodog, however, seems like playing with fire, and the shut down of eWalletXpress should be the writing on the wall.

Wolynski said...

The reason for a third party financial intermediary like Neteller is that in the good all days you could jump from site to site bonus whoring or looking for better games - if Party announced a bonus special, I could withdraw my money from Party and redeposit it at Party and get the bonus - all in under 2 hours.

When I cashed out from Neteller, the money was at the ATM in 15 minutes.

--S said...

I don't play poker online but I do wish to open an account with a sports book online. I have, in fact, opened three different accounts, including accounts on sites that also offer online poker...but have been unable to fund any of the three.

I have tried perhaps four different ways of getting funds into an account and all have failed. I've basically given up.

Two friends have had issues with payout checks bouncing, just as The Poker Meister above.

The current situation sucks but I don't know whether or not it would be better if the bill passed. I'm not smart enough to figure that out ;)

Conan776 said...

Better if the poker bill passed, for bookmaking? Not a chance.

Anonymous said...

Depositing has never been an issue on FTP, I think for obvious reasons.

Withdrawals are actually quite easy - Wire Transfer. I've done 4 of them recently, and they take a little more than 3 days.

While the fees are somewhat high, the money is still transferred.

-JP in Philadelphia

John said...

think terrorism funding and drug money