Advocates of online gambling regulations in the US Congress have been searching for some concrete evidence that was so overwhelming that it could not be denied. That evidence came this week when estimates had refunds in the $100 million to $500 million range.
The refunds were part of a deal that PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker made with the government. The sites gained back the rights to their domain names, in exchange for the assurance that US customers would receive refunds on money they had in their accounts.
The refunds are a result of an indictment handed down against executives of the three major online poker sites. The Department of Justice alleges that the companies committed fraud in deceiving banks into processing online gambling transactions. The proof of just how big the online poker industry is, however, came out of those indictments.
“It would be easy to say that tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, have been held up in limbo here because of the DOJ action,” said John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance. “It’s impossible to put an exact number on it. I would estimate at least $100 million if not as much as $500 million.”
Online poker has become the biggest entertainment option in the world. Over the past decade, many countries have regulated the industry in their jurisdiction, but the US has chosen to remain in a prohibitive state. In recent years, lawmakers have started to change their stance on Internet gambling.
“It is impossible to ignore the fact that online poker is more popular than most sports,” said Gaming Analyst Steve Schwartz. “In the US, millions of players go online every night to play poker. These individuals are not currently protected by the government, and they are hoping that soon changes.”
Since the crackdown several weeks ago, online poker players have been bombarding their representatives with letters voicing their displeasure. The result has been increased political pressure. The online gambling issue is sure to be one that is heavily debated in the upcoming election cycle.
May 13, 2011
Posted By April Gardner
Staff Editor, CasinoGamblingWeb.com