On Wednesday, authorities in the U.S. announced that they will un-freeze the online poker domain names of two mayor internet poker companies that were frozen by the FBI in an attempt to combat online gambling, and allow U.S. poker players to retrieve their funds from their account.
Last week, the domain of Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker (three of the biggest online poker sites in the U.S.) were seized and 11 people were charged with bank fraud, money laundering, illegal gamblingand other charges. The founders of the Internet gambling sites are among the people charged. The U.S. Attorney General of New York said that the domain names of the pokerstars.com and fulltiltpoker.com sites will be restored so they can repay the money that was deposited by U.S. players. The Attorney General said in a statement: “The government stands to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker if it so chooses. This office expects the companies to return the money that US players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players.”
The Attorney General said the Internet gambling companies had agreed to no longer offer gambling for real money to players in the U.S., but they are allowed to offer online gambling outside the U.S.. Since the introduction of the UIGEA in 2006, online casino gambling is banned in North America. The law prohibits financial institutions from accepting payments by credit cards, online payments and checks that are related to online gambling. The ban on online gambling in the U.S. receives criticism from several sides, the WHO has challenged the law for unfair trade restrictions and various legislators in the U.S. are working to legalize online gambling in their state.
Despite the ban on online casino gambling, the online poker industry in the USA is the largest in the world and earns billions in revenue for the Internet gambling industry. Mayor online casino companies offer online poker to players in the U.S. through loopholes in the law, e.g. by locating their business overseas.