Online poker is technically illegal in most states in the US, but that “technically” involves a lot of loopholes, which is why there are many poker sites out there that accept US players. A lot of states are preparing to change their laws as well, and it has been reported that as many as 8 states could be due to implement laws that will allow for online gambling. No doubt this has something to do with the tax money that gambling can generate, a number that passed $5 billion in 2006, the year when the current anti-gambling law was created. Once this happens then it will surely be a matter of time before the other states follow.
Even with legal sites there can be issues with some payment providers, so it’s not always easy to find a poker website that offers many banking options. PayPal is a no-go, and for many sites so are debit cards and credit cards. There are sites that offer only wire transfers and checks, but luckily they are in the minority and the majority of sites have plenty of options, which we will look in this article.
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According to Business Insider, the death of the paper check began on September 11th 2001, a day that America and the rest of the world will never forget. At that point checks were flown around the country everyday and the economy relied on them, with billions of dollars being transported, but when planes were grounded following the terrorist attacks, the economy suffered.
In truth it probably began much later than that, as even after that fateful day many people still used checks. It wasn’t until several years later, when alternative methods became popular, that checks began to fade away. These days there are so many better and easier ways to send and receive money. Checks are costly, unreliable, time consuming and they can also bounce. A check is not a guarantee for anything, and receiving one means nothing until it clears. Many of us still have checkbooks, but most of those are gathering dust in garages, lost inside spider-covered boxes with old Christmas jumpers from crazy aunts and photographs of when you had “that” hair. Checks are also subject to scams, from the Check Overpayment Scam to simple forgery.
With the issues concerning many other payment methods, checks have proved to be somewhat popular with poker sites in the United States, but you should always go for alternative methods. Even without scams, checks can get lost in the mail, and they can also take an eternity to get to where they need to go, especially if the website is based out of the country.
In Europe there are regulations in place for wire transfers that limit the cost of sending and receiving one. This makes wire transfers a very viable option, regardless of which country they are being sent from or to. That does not apply to the United States though and the costs for sending and receiving a wire transfer is unnecessarily high. The Bank of America, for instance, charges around $25 to send a transfer and $12 to receive one, and considering poker sites will ask you to cover their costs, that means that a $100 cash-out via wire transfer could leave you with just $63 once the costs have been subtracted. And that’s only if the poker site is based in the United States, as International bank transfers can cost nearly twice as much as domestic ones. In fact, many poker sites request large minimums for wire transfer withdrawals, sometimes as much as $1.000.
The benefits of a wire transfer, however, is that it is quick and it is very safe. Some details are exchanged and the two recipients will see partial financial details of the other party, but this is not enough to commit any sort of fraud so you don’t need to worry.
The first credit card originated in America, and although it was called BankAmericard to begin with, it later became Visa. Today Visa is one of the biggest credit card companies in the world, with brands such as MasterCard and American Express languishing some way behind in second and third. Most of us actually have more than one credit card, with the average being 1.97, so this is an option that should be widely available.
Credit cards are probably the best method to deposit money into a gambling account for US players, as it is the safest option. Credit cards return any money lost through fraud and they can also reverse payments if need be, so if anything happens and the poker website turns out to be fraudulent, then you should be able to get your money back. One of the downsides is that credit card companies usually charge for overseas transactions, so if the poker website is not based in the United States (few of them are) then you may have to pay for each deposit that you make. The websites also tend to charge a percentage of the total fee for processing a credit card payment.
Another downside is that any withdrawals made to a credit card will essentially be given as credit, but it is certainly an interesting way to reduce any credit card bills.
Everyone has a debit card, so this is a very accessible option. In 2013 it was estimated that there were close to 150 million MasterCard debit cards in the United States, with the worldwide number being around 2.5 times more. There are significantly more credit cards in use than there are debit cards, mostly because people tend to own more than one credit credit and usually only one debit card, but this is still a great option for everyone.
Debit cards are only accepted by half of the poker and gambling sites that operate in the United States. It shouldn’t matter which bank you use, as all cards will work. The benefits of using a debit card to deposit is that it is very quick, and you can also withdraw money back to that card, so it is easy for players to manage their finances. The withdrawal process takes a little longer and it might come with a charge (Carbon Poker, for example, charge 3%). The withdrawal and deposit limits are very small on debit cards, as this option is easy for the website to process.
The downsides to using a debit card is that it does not offer the same sort of protection as a credit card and you are exposing your financial details to the website, effectively giving them a direct link to your bank account, so you need to make sure that the website you are dealing with can be trusted 100%.
Skrill have been around since 2001, a truly International company that has offices and employees around the globe. It is estimated that there are over 36 million Skrill accounts worldwide, although how many of these are active is difficult to tell. Skrill have been leading the way in online payments for a long time. PayPal usually dominate the industry, but when it comes to online gambling in the United States PayPal are very strict and do not allow it, and in this instance Skrill were more than happy to step in.
Skrill, which used to be known as Moneybookers, is a low-cost way to transfer money, and it is also very safe. When paying a website or an individual through Skrill they do not have access to your financial information and they can only take the money that you send them. If anything happens then it will certainly be harder to get your money back through Skrill than it would through a credit card, but it is quick, easy and widely accepted, so many people prefer it.
Although this can be very time-consuming, this is one of the most preferred methods out there and one that we would also recommend. There are many prepaid cards available, and you can even pick up one from MasterCard. These cards act like one-time use credit cards. You simply put money onto them like you would with a Skrill or PayPal account, and then you can use that card to spend that money. Some prepaid cards require top-ups via credit or debit card, but there are some that you can top up with cash. These include the Vanilla Visa, which they sell up and down the United States. You can top-up this card in the same place that you buy it, simply give the cash and the card to the shop assistant and you’re good to go.
The Vanilla Visa is accepted on most websites, but not all. The prepaid MasterCard, however, can be used wherever a MasterCard can be used, so this might be the best option if you’re looking to go down this route.
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