One week on from “Black Friday” and the dust has started to settle following one of the biggest bombs ever to hit the online poker industry. There has been a lot of panic, a lot of hysteria and a lot of bad PR for online poker. However it’s not all doom and gloom, especially in Australia where it’s mostly business as usual.
As we ironically now find ourselves at “Good Friday”, let’s take a look at the latest developments with the online poker giants.
PokerStars have blocked US players from their tables, but this week they regained control of their domain name to help facilitate payments back to US players. Players in Australia have been able to successfully withdraw funds this week, although there has been some delays due to the backlog of requests.
The ANZPT remains unaffected and satellites are currently running for the ANZPT Gold Coast on May 17th.
Tournament guarantees have been slashed across the site, including the upcoming SCOOP series, however it has been reported that games at the mid-to-high stakes are noticeably softer due to the lack of regular players and pros from the US. This was evident last Monday when a number of Australians landed big scores. There should be no fears with players in regards to withdrawing these winnings.
PokerStars have announced a reload bonus of 50% up to $200 for players who use bonus code “SCOOP”.
On Wednesday, PokerStars released the following press release:
PokerStars is pleased to confirm that the US Department of Justice has agreed to release the www.pokerstars.com domain name for use by PokerStars outside the US.
The company categorically denies the allegations brought by the US Department of Justice on 15th April 2011 and is taking all steps necessary to robustly defend itself, and the two named individuals. Meanwhile, the company has stopped offering real money poker services in the United States.
PokerStars' services outside the US are not affected. The Company has received assurance from the Isle of Man regulator that its licence status is unchanged. The company remains compliant with all of its other international licences.
Following discussions with the US Department of Justice, PokerStars has now entered into an Agreement which has been publicly filed. The US Department of Justice Agreement expressly states that the domain name can be used by PokerStars outside the US to facilitate the provision of real money poker services, and that PokerStars can pay out player balances to its former customers in the US.
Returning US players' funds is a top priority for PokerStars and the company can now start the process of returning money to its former US customers.
All PokerStars player deposits are completely safe. The Isle of Man's strict licensing laws (similar to other jurisdictions where PokerStars holds licences) require all funds to be held in accounts that are segregated from company assets. PokerStars has always complied with this requirement and continues to do so. This money is readily available to meet withdrawal demands, indeed the company continues to comply with withdrawal requests from players based outside the US as normal.
Outside the US PokerStars continues to operate business as usual.
Full Tilt Poker
Similarly Full Tilt Poker have regained control of their domain names to help facilitate payments to players, however US players are no longer able to play on their tables.
The FTOPS XX is in full swing and will continue through until May 1st. Tournament guarantees have been reduced, but reports of soft fields should provide a good opportunity for Australian players.
The high stakes Onyx Cup has been cancelled, however satellites continue every Sunday evening to the FTP 500 II event.
Again, it is business as usual for Full Tilt players in Australia. Your funds remain safe and withdrawals will be processed as normal, however there is a backlog causing some delays.
On Wednesday, Full Tilt Poker released the following press release:
Full Tilt Poker is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to regain the use of its worldwide domain name, www.fulltiltpoker.com.
Although players in the United States will not be permitted to engage in real-money play, the agreement expressly allows for real-money play outside of the United States.
In addition, the agreement represents an important first step towards returning funds to U.S. players because it allows Full Tilt Poker to utilize its domain to facilitate the withdrawal of player funds. But, unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future. As a result of the recent enforcement action, there exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds; Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government; and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players. Finally, there are numerous legal and jurisdictional issues that must be considered before poker winnings can be paid out to players throughout the United States. While Full Tilt Poker continues to believe that online poker is not illegal under federal law or in 49 states, the indictment and civil forfeiture action filed last Friday require Full Tilt Poker to proceed with caution in this area.
Notwithstanding these issues, Full Tilt Poker is ready to work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to try and resolve these issues and to get players their money back as soon as possible.
Absolute Poker and UB had remained silent, but yesterday released the following press release:
Absolute Poker has retained Blank Rome LLP as United States counsel to provide legal advice in relation to civil and criminal matters filed in federal court in Manhattan and made public on April 15, 2011. Absolute Poker is aware that on April 19, 2011, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York entered into separate agreements with FullTilt Poker and PokerStars. These agreements concern the use of the respective www.fulltiltpoker.com and www.pokerstars.com domain names. The US Attorney, in a press release dated April 20, 2011, stated that the government is willing to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker and UB.
At this time, Absolute Poker’s top priority is, and must be, the refund of balances to its and UB’s US players. However, given the far-reaching consequences of the US Attorney’s actions for Absolute Poker and for the entire poker community, Absolute Poker believes that the responsible course of action is to review with its attorneys the relevant court filings before taking any action.
Absolute Poker believes that the US Attorney shares the view that refunds to US players are an immediate and pressing concern, and Absolute Poker wishes to make clear that it wants to work cooperatively with the US Attorney to safely and efficiently return its players’ funds. To that end, Absolute Poker’s counsel has initiated communications with the US Attorney’s office and plans to continue proactively advancing those discussions.
Further information and timely updates will be provided to Absolute Poker/UB’s players as we move forward.
Other Benefits for Australian players
With change, comes opportunity, and several other online poker sites have come forward with new offers to try to attract players to their shores. This is great for Australian players.
This week 888poker came out with the news that they are doubling the guarantees of all of their major tournaments, with their weekly major now boasting a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool. There will be a new nightly schedule geared towards Australian players, and in addition, 888poker are also offering a reload bonus of 100% up to $150 when you use the bonus code “APRIL150”.
Party Poker have also announced a 100% up to $100 reload bonus. Just use the Party Poker bonus code “100PARTY” on your next deposit.
Titan Poker brought out the big guns with “The Reloader” where players can receive a bonus of 300% up to $600 for deposits made before April 22nd 23:59 GMT+1.
In addition, PokerNetwork continues to bring our players fantastic freerolls and exclusive promotions. We recently announced the Unibet Open Challenge Freerolls, $100k Guaranteed Satellite Freeroll series at Bodog, Social Media Madness Freerolls at Mansion and the GIANT $30,000 Freeroll at Poker770.
For more details on upcoming freefolls refer to http://www.pokernetwork.com/freerolls
So there are plenty of reasons for Australian poker players to continue to enjoy their time online and make the most of the soft fields, reload bonuses and promotions that are on offer at the moment. As always, be alert but not alarmed. For the latest in news on Black Friday head over to our friends at www.pokernews.com or join in the discussion in the PokerNetwork forums.
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