Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars Closing Down?

The online poker community was abuzz with excitement over the news that Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-MA) HR 2267 online gambling bill had been marked up in the House Subcommittee with a vote of 41-22-1.  This was being heralded as the most positive outcome the online poker sector has seen in years.

Not so fast say some industry experts.

HR 2267 is proposed legislation that seeks to amend title 31, United States Code, to provide for the licensing of Internet gambling activities by the Secretary of the Treasury, to provide for consumer protections on the Internet, to enforce the tax code, and for other purposes. But a handful of amendments were added to the original measure, some of which would almost certainly shut out today’s top two online poker rooms from the US market.

“No one who took a bet or wager on or after the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, processed payments, or received ‘assistance’ can be licensed,” Joe Brennan, Jr. of the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association pointed out.

Full Tilt and PokerStars have continued to accept customers from the US since enactment of UIGEA.

Another expert on the industry, who wished not to be identified, suggested such legislation would ultimately be beneficial for both online poker rooms.

“Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars would likely be acquired.  A U.S. company would want to buy most of the software, perhaps Facebook or a similar enterprise.”

Employees currently based in online gambling Meccas like Costa Rica would be moved to the US where they can provide their expertise.

“No company in the U.S. would be set up to do this on their own,” the expert said.

Of course online gambling ventures have long found a way around most, if not all, obstacles standing in the way.

For example, what is to stop a Full Tilt Poker from purchasing a European-based brand that has not accepted U.S. customers since passage of UIGEA?  Let’s say Everest Poker.  Full Tilt Poker becomes Everest Poker and Everest’ management team heads up the business.  This is one way that the European online card rooms can enter the U.S market with a bang.

It would be difficult to envision a situation whereby Full Tilt and PokerStars do not somehow benefit from any new laws being that they are two of the biggest supporters of the Poker Players Alliance and have lobbied extensively for legalized online poker in the States.

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