Since the events of Black Friday sent big-name poker sites scattering from US soil, PokerStars has been adamant about maintaining its ‘no more US players’ policy. The Department of Justice monitored the online poker room for the next few years to ensure PokerStars held up its end of the settlement bargain. Now that the monitoring period has ended, a representative for the company, Michael Josem, said they are committed to perpetuating the blockage of US players.
Unfortunately, there are means by which a player residing in the US can mask their location to gain access to the online poker room. PokerStars is well aware of this fact, and for the last few years has espoused a policy to confiscate the ‘winnings’ of any player who manages to open a real money account from a US location, so long as their intent was inculpable. A recent update to that policy, however, should greatly increase the aversive nature of playing at PokerStars from a restricted location.
The PokerStars representative explained the update. “Our previous policy was, by default, to only confiscate net winnings (except when we were convinced the player was malicious, in which case we would confiscate their whole balance).” Under the new policy, said Josem, PokerStars has “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).”
What that basically means is that, in the past, players could simply cry ignorance and get their originally deposited amounts paid back to them, losing only their winnings (if any). With the new policy, though, players can no longer simply claim unawareness of the fact that US players are not permitted to play for real money at PokerStars. They would have to thoroughly prove that claim, beyond a shadow of a doubt, less they forfeit their entire balance – deposits and winnings included.
Josem was, of course, asked if the policy change had anything to do with the Rational Group’s recent acquisition by Canadian-based Amaya Gaming. He denied any connection with the change of company directors, explaining that the policy change was a necessary adjustment either way.
PokerStars expects the risk of US players losing everything in their account balance will be a much greater deterrent than the previous policy. Americans are advised to be patient and wait until PokerStars becomes a legally licensed entity in the state where they reside. That could occur a lot sooner for some than others. New Jersey is anticipating the launch of a PokerStars branded website as early as October of this year.
California is another viable location for the online poker operator, but residents of that state will have to wait at least another year. Nevada would be a pertinent landing point for a PokerStars launch since the state already has a regulated online poker market in place, but no known negotiations are yet underway with land-based casinos in the Silver State, and it’s not yet been revealed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board whether the change in ownership will alter the state’s view of the online poker brand to a positive one. Delaware also has an online gambling sector up and running, but has negotiated a contract with 888 Poker to host all of its iGaming operations, thus an appearance in the Diamond State isn’t in the foreseeable future. Other states seriously considering online poker regulation include Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, New York and Pennsylvania.