Poker Players Vow to Fight Payment Seizures

Published June 17, 2009

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York seizes over $30 million belonging to poker players.

The Poker Players Alliance has vowed to lead the legal fight on behalf of online poker players after the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York seized over $30 million belonging to at least 24,000 online poker players last week.

The PPA confirmed last week that the authorities had sent requests to Wells Fargo, Citibank and other smaller banks to freeze the accounts of Allied Systems and Account Services, two companies that process payouts for online poker rooms, news agencies reported last week.

The banks complied with the requests, resulting in the seizure of over $30 million of payments issued by poker rooms to players.

In a statement Thursday, PPA Executive Director John Pappas said the seizures had nothing to do with the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, but rather were based on a broad interpretation of the Wire Act, revised in 1961, which aims to control the transmission of sports bet and sports betting information.

According to the PPA, the Department of Justice has "significantly overstepped" its legal boundaries, as the Wire Act "does not affect or control online gaming of any type, including poker."

Pappas added that the seizures were in no way an indication that online poker is finished in the United States.

"There have been many actions like this in the past," he said, giving examples including the NETeller seizures and the arrest of SportingBet executives. "Online poker has weathered those actions, which appeared in several cases to be significantly worse than this one."

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