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Request to Release Online Poker Winnings Denied by Courts

Poker News - August 30th, 2009 - Written by Glen

ppaIn late August, a court hearing took place to determine the status of the online poker funds seized by the Southern District of New York. The funds were seized from Account Services, a company owned by Douglas Reddick, the Canadian man indicted on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling charges. The money is to stay in the government's hands, despite the plea put forth by the lawyers of Account Services, as well as the Poker Players Alliance.

Over 20,000 players of online poker were affected by the seizures, which targeted two of the largest poker rooms available to American players, Full Tilt and PokerStars. While the two sites ended up losing money, all players were ultimately compensated after checks began to bounce. It was reported by the San Diego Tribute that it could be "years" until the money is unlocked, as the case must be heard prior to the winnings release. The Canadian, Reddick, has yet to be extradited to the United States.

Opponents to the ruling argue that poker is not covered under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or the UIGEA. This Act, signed into Law by President Bush in 2006, prohibited the payment processing of Internet gaming. While players would not be directly impacted, their money could - as seen in this instance - be absconded by government agencies. While power was deemed a game of chance in certain, low level courts, many still argue that poker is a game of skill, and should subsequently be uninhibited by the current laws. Senator Menendez of New Jersey has put forth a Bill that would exclude poker from the UIGEA, though since Congress has convened for the summer, this Bill has made little progress.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act will not be fully enforced until December of 2009, but difficulties are still being seen. Credit cards have been failing as a deposit method, checks are being sent back, and wire transfers are also being blocked. Intermediaries are becoming more popular as a way to transfer funds into poker rooms, though even these are beginning to be met with difficulty. Petitions exist on the Internet to free players from this burden, allowing players to voice their opinions. The legality of online poker has been under fire for years, and with a liberal congress progress may be made. All players can do their part contacting their local senator and representative.

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