Have you visited pokerstars.com recently, only to find an FBI warning in place of poker content? Have you logged into the PokerStars client, only to find that you can’t sit down at real money tables?
If so, you’re not alone. The Pokerstars.com website was shut down yesterday by the FBI and the company announced that they would no longer accept US players. It’s not the end of the world. There are other US friendly poker sites available if your looking for a new home.You can visit this page here for a complete list of US poker sites not effected by yesterday’s shut down of PokerStars.com.
Why is the PokerStars Site Shut Down?
Long story short, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has seized the pokerstars.com domain. Hence why you may have seen the FBI logo, along with anofficial warning, in place of the actual PokerStars website.
Why? Because the FBI is taking the owners of PokerStars — along with the owners of Full Tilt and Absolute Poker — to court. The US Attorney in Manhattan alleges that 11 defendants, including the owners of PokerStars, have violated wire fraud and money laundering laws in order to accept gambling payments from US citizens.
The FBI alleges that the defendants (including the owners of PokerStars) set up shell corporations to trick legitimate banks into accepting illegal gambling payments. It is also alleged that the defendants have attempted to ‘buy’ fledgling local banks — i.e. bribe the banks’ executives — so as to allow American players to deposit and withdraw from gambling sites.
Whether or not these charges will hold up, we don’t know. But given the severity of the issue, PokerStars stopped accepting USA players. Hence why pokerstars.com is, for most of us, inaccessible.
Can US Players Deposit at PokerStars?
US players cannot deposit at PokerStars. As part of the FBI investigation, over 75 “payment processors” in the US were shut down. All bank accounts tied to these payment processors have been frozen. The effect of this is that processing payments to PokerStars from American players is very difficult.
Can US Players Play Real Money Poker at PokerStars?
US players can no longer play real money poker games at PokerStars.com. Again, the charges being brought against the owners of the site are pretty serious; so PokerStars isn’t kidding around when it says No American Players.
If you try to sit in at a table, you’ll be prevented from playing by a popup box. This popup will say something to the effect of “sorry, you can’t play because of government restrictions.” It’s literally game-over for American players at PokerStars, at least for now.
Can US Players Withdraw From Pokerstars.com?
If you’ve already got a funded account at PokerStars, you’ll have a tough time withdrawing right now. The FBI has control of many payment processors PokerStars previously used to process withdrawals to Americans. Thus, PokerStars now has fewer ways to process payments in America. It follows that withdrawing may be a bit difficult.
Some players have reported that wire transfers are going through just fine. Other players are reporting being locked out of the cashier window entirely. Getting money onto and off of PokerStars will not be easy for some time to come.
Note that there’s little use in rushing to PokerStars and withdrawing your bankroll right now. Even if Stars approves your withdrawal, it is possible that your funds will get stuck at the payment processing level — and end up confiscated. It’s a gamble either way — keep your cash on the site and wait for this to blow over, or take a chance with payment processors that might be owned by the FBI. Take your pick.
Is This the End of the World?
No! PokerStars is one site out of many that serviced American players. There are still many left. All this situation means is that you’ll have to pick up your bankroll and move elsewhere.