PokerStars Confiscating Funds from Unwanted US Players

Posted on August 25th, 2014 by Robert DellaFave
PokerStars confiscating funds

PokerStars is imposing harsh punishments on American players attempting to access the site for real money play.

PokerStars is sorely missed in the United States. When Black Friday occurred, it was already the most popular site in the country (and in the world), and had built a reputation as a trusted site to play on.

That reputation was only bolstered when PokerStars quickly returned funds to American players who had account balances when the site shut down in the USA. With that kind of a pedigree, it’s no surprise that many American online poker fans still want to get in on the action at PokerStars.

But the world’s largest poker site has a message for Americans: you’re not allowed to play here, and we’re stepping up the punishments if you try to do so.

Players Now Assumed to Know the Rules

PokerStars now says that its default position when encountering a player accessing their site from the United States is to take their entire account balance.

Occasionally, a player would lose all of their funds, but only if that play was considered “malicious” in their attempts to circumvent PokerStars’ methods of blocking players from the United States.

That’s the word from PokerStars Head of Public Relations Michael Josem, who says that the site made the move based on their belief about what poker players in the United States should know at this point.

“Earlier this year, we increased the severity of our punishments because it [is] no longer credible for the vast majority of players to claim that they didn’t know that they can’t play from the US,” Josem wrote on the Two Plus Two Forums.

Policy Change Took Place Earlier This Year

According to Josem, PokerStars’ default response had been to confiscate only the winnings players had accrued on the site before they were caught and then banned from playing for real money.

Occasionally, a player would lose all of their funds, but only if that play was considered “malicious” in their attempts to circumvent PokerStars’ methods of blocking players from the United States.

Now, that policy has switched, and the site is assuming that players know better.

“Over recent months, by default, we have been confiscating the whole balance (except when we are convinced that the player was non-malicious and had no knowledge of the restrictions, in which case we only confiscate net winnings),” wrote Josem. “We made this decision earlier this year, and [the decision] has no relationship to any other recent announcements.”

That reference to recent announcements likely refers to the purchase of Rational Gaming by Amaya, as well as the new ownership’s efforts to get the PokerStars brand back into regulated markets in the United States.

Policy Began After Black Friday

It’s likely that most players who manage to access PokerStars from a US residence are aware that they are circumventing the site’s policy, as the site has taken strong efforts to prevent players from doing so by normal means.

Soon after Black Friday, PokerStars reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice to block players from the USA from playing real money poker on the site, and until recently, the DoJ watched over this process with an appointed monitor to ensure compliance.

That doesn’t mean that Americans can never play on the site. Many professional poker players in the United States took up residency in other nations, particularly in Canada, in order to continue playing on PokerStars.

However, even players with addresses in other nations were only allowed to play for real money while they were physically located outside of the United States.

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