After Friday’s shocking shutdown of the online poker industry’s biggest websites, many players were left with no way to reclaim their deposited funds. However, authorities today announced that the U.S. government is now working with Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars to help customers receive refunds.
According to a statement from the government, the restored sites “will facilitate the return of money so that players can register their refund requests directly with Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker.” Authorities say they make strike the same deal with Absolute Poker to help customers retrieve their cash.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan added: “No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player’s deposited funds. In fact, this office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players.”
The founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker face of myriad of fraud charges including conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling.
Despite the government’s attempts to reunite poker players with their funds, John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance advocacy group, is unimpressed. After all, he and others like him argue, there’s no reason playing poker for cash should be illegal.
“Millions of Americans are being denied their hobby, avocation and in many cases their livelihood because they remain unable to play poker on the Internet,” he said. “At a time of such economic weakness in the U.S., citizens expect their government to be wholly focused on improving their way of life through job and revenue creation, not attacking their personal activities.”