Last Friday marked a dark and tragic time for most US poker players because it seems like everybody has/had a PokerStars or Full Tilt account when the US Department of Justice decided to shut the sites down. Immediately, people pointed the blame at the US government and cried that our liberties and freedoms were being taken away. And while there’s nothing democratic about telling limiting the options people have for playing online poker, people can’t blame the entire thing on the American government.
Plenty of this blame can be directed at the actual sites themselves because Stars and Full Tilt were certainly not innocent in the whole matter. Sure there were difficulties in both receiving and getting payments to players; however, bribing banks, working with David Tzetkoff to develop shell companies, and disguising transactions as golf balls, jewelry, etc. was not the way to do it.
Furthermore, those in charge at these companies were irresponsible in taking such measures because they have to worry about their clients’ money as well. Obvious bank fraud and money laundering activities are not the way to keep your players’ money safe by any means. Luckily, the DOJ was not the monsters that people initially portrayed them to be since both FT and Stars were able to re-open their .com names to let players cash out. The whole thing wreaks of an above-the-law attitude by both sites.
Now this isn’t a pro-government rant either because PokerStars and Full Tilt shouldn’t have to go to such measures to take deposits. The UIGEA is a half-assed, idiotic law that was supposed to dissuade online poker sites from offering services to American citizens, when all it really acts as is a nuisance. The US should have regulated online poker a long time ago to get taxable revenue instead of wasting money to implement measures that reject an extra source of tax revenue. Hopefully that regulation is coming soon.