Federal prosecutors in Washington State have seized large sums of money from payment processors that handled transactions for major online poker sites. A report in Forbes Magazine stated that the amount the authorities have undertaken to seize is close to US$8 million. The seizure comes just a month after payment processor eWalletXpress closed down their US-facing business.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 states that US-based banks cannot carry out transactions between their customers and offshore gaming sites. While the legislation still allows for other games of chance, such as lotteries and horse racing, which are supported by the states, it still prohibits a more skill-based game like online poker.
The seizures began last June with an anonymous tip. The tipster told federal prosecutors that he had received checks for his online poker winnings, from a company called Arrow Checks. Other firms, including Secure Money, Etegrity Processing and Blue Lake Logistics, were also accused of processing online poker payments.
The investigation is currently limited to Washington State due to a state law that makes participation in online poker games a felony. The inquiry is exploring transactions between the check processors and many of the major online poker sites, including PokerStars, Full Tilt and UB (formerly Ultimate Bet).
Prosecutors are also targeting many of the major banks involved in the transactions. Federal authorities have seized more than US$5 million from Bank of America. Accounts at Chase, Wells Fargo and SunTrust banks have also been sized.
The move may have some serious effects for pro online poker players in Washington State. Matt Affleck, a Seattle native who finished in fifteenth place at this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event, had signed an endorsement deal with PokerStars. Less than three months after signing his endorsement, PokerStars banned all players from Washington State, including Affleck.