Since Black Friday, the online poker world has had two basic concerns - one short term and one long term.
The long term concern is about the uncertain future of the game in the United States. Will online poker ever get the national go-ahead along with federal regulation? Will state governments butt heads with the federal government on the legality issue? Will under the radar real-money sites continue to operate, or was the takedown of the big three a sign of things to come?
The more immediate concern has been about the money. Many if not most serious online poker players have some degree of funds tied up in either PokerStars, Absolute Poker or Full Tilt. Concerns that the money might have simply disappeared were partially assuaged last week when the U.S. government reached domain name agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt to allow to facilitation of returns.
It looks as though PokerStars is now beginning the process of cashing out American players.
According to Bluff, PokerStars representative Steve Day announced in the Two Plus Two PokerCast (a podcast) yesterday that payouts could begin as early as yesterday the 26th in the best-case scenario. From Bluff:
In an interview for the Two Plus Two PokerCast, PokerStars representative Steve Day announced that US players may be able to start processing cashouts starting Tuesday in a best-case scenario. Reports from players attempting to cash out after hearing the announcement noticed several different options available: Wire transfer (minimum $50,000), Check (up to $2,500), and Cashout Request to Direct Bank Transfer. The latter method states processing will take up to 72 hours with payment appearing in player’s bank accounts within five business days.
UPDATE: Selecting the “Cashout Request to Direct Bank Transfer” option now asks for additional banking information.
And apparently they have begun. PokerNews reported that sure enough, when they logged into their PokerStars account they were greeted with a pop up that said, " We are pleased to announce that the Cash Out option in the PokerStars Cashier is now available." They were also told to expect delays in processing and delivering of funds.
CardPlayer posted a copy of the email sent to PokerStars players:
In light of recent developments, PokerStars is no longer offering real money play to residents of the United States of America and its territories.
The PokerStars Cashier is now available for you to cash out the funds in your real money account balance. We strongly recommend that you use the bank transfer option; to use it, you will need to have your current banking information at hand.
Please note that due to the expected high volume of cashout requests, we anticipate a delay in processing and delivery of your funds. Rest assured that your funds are safe and we will process your request as soon as possible.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you experience any issues.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
So it looks like PokerStars users can proceed with extracting their winnings. Although if you believe in jinxing, well, you might want to leave just a fraction of your funds in the account, as a good faith measure that the service will be up and running soon as the federal government extricates its head from its ass.
Some in the poker world are a bit concerned about the cashout process. But c'mon, BJ! Don't freak everyone out...geez.
Before requesting a direct bank transfer, remember that you're dealing w/ an overseas company indicted for bank fraud.
Let me clarify -- I am very confident that people who request a direct bank transfer from PokerStars *will* get their money back.