Account Services Wants Online Poker Gambling Money Returned
The US Government has been busy over the past month seizing funds from bank accounts that contained money used to pay out online poker players. The online industry, however, is not taking the seizures lightly.
Account Services, a payment processor, has filed a motion in US District Court for the Southern District of California that calls for the seized funds from Union Bank to be returned. The issue mainly has to do with when the warrants for seizure were issued.
The government seized the funds on June 12th, but the seizure warrants were not issued until June 24th. Account Services also claims that the money being held in the accounts were for online poker players who were doing nothing ille4gal.
The government cannot use the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act as their reason for the seizures. The UIGEA does not fully go into effect until December, and other online laws do not cite poker as a game that constitutes illegal gambling. Therefore, according to many in the industry, the funds were seized illegally.
"The US Government started to believe that they can just do things that are in violation of people's rights under former President Bush," said observer Mark Humble, "but the reality is that there are procedures that need to be followed, and messing with the online gaming community with no laws behind them is not the way the US Government should be working."
Online poker players have been outraged by the seizures. Many of these people have little disposable income and now have that money tied up by the government. Most of the players have been reimbursed the funds by the online poker sites, but the inconvenience of the seizures has opened their eyes.
"I have been playing online poker for several years believing I was doing nothing wrong," said player Barry Grelsh, "now I find out the government intruded in an area where the laws do not even back up their actions. That is scary that they are able to do that."
The Poker Players Alliance and the Interactive Media and Entertainment Gaming Association are both weighing their options to join in the battle. Both groups have been at the center of legal battles with state governments when it comes to the game of poker.
Poker has been described by several judges as a game of skill. That distinction has also been made in studies on the game. If the game is one of skill, it becomes legal under US laws. The laws state that games of chance played for money are illegal, but clearly poker does not fall under that umbrella.
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