On April 15, 2011, the founders of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were indicted for money laundering and bank fraud. As a result, both PokerStars and Full Tilt have stopped accepting US players. The poker room has released a statement claiming that the charges against the company are not accurate, although the domain *FullTiltPoker.com* is in the FBI’s control.
Have All Poker Sites Shut Down?
No, not at all. Only a handful have closed their doors including Pokerstars, Absolute Poker, Ultimate Bet and Full Tilt Poker. There are still a number of US poker sites unaffected by the FBI seizures including Sportsbook Poker and Bodog Poker. The recent news was a shock to everyone and although it could appear to be the end of online poker, the remaining US poker rooms, including those listed above have said it’s business as usual.
What Happened at Full Tilt Poker to Cause the FBI to Shut Down the Full Tilt Site?
The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, alleges that the founders of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker “concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme.” This alleged scheme involved the sites and their payment processors lying to American banks, bribing bank executives, and attempting to “buy” small financial institutions in order to facilitate illegal gambling payments.
If these allegations hold up in court, 11 defendants could face convictions for various crimes, ranging from “Conspiracy to Violate Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” to “Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud.” The maximum penalty for the latter charge is 30 years in prison, plus a fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the fraudulent operations.
Given the severity of these charges and the nature of the defendants’ involvement in PokerStars and Full Tilt, both sites have deemed it prudent to cease all U.S. operations. It is unclear as to when, or even if, the sites will re-open for business in the U.S.
Can U.S. Players Still Sign Up at Full Tilt Poker?
No, U.S. players cannot sign up to play or download Full Tilt Poker. Any player accounts connected to U.S. addresses, or connected to U.S. IP addresses, will be barred from sitting in at the tables.
Can U.S. Players Still Deposit at Full Tilt Poker?
No, U.S. players cannot deposit at Full Tilt. All real money and free games are closed to US players, even for players with existing accounts at the sites.
As a part of the recent FBI investigation into PokerStars and Full Tilt’s operations, over 75 bank accounts linked to payment processing companies have been frozen. Thus getting money from the poker sites and into banks — and by extension from the poker sites and to American players — is extremely difficult.
Given these difficulties in processing gaming transactions, Full Tilt and PokerStars closed to US players for the time being.
Can U.S. Players Still Withdraw from Full Tilt Poker?
Full Tilt Poker issued an official statement claiming that “processing of both deposit and withdrawal requests is proceeding as normal and is still available to all of our players.” However there have been numerous reports on poker forums that players have been experiencing difficulties cashing out since the Full Tilt Poker site shut down.
Many players have experienced their cashouts being approved initially, but rejected just hours later for reasons unspecified by Full Tilt. Other players have been unable to access the cashier’s withdrawal window at all. And still others have been frozen out of the Full Tilt software entirely.
At PokerStars, the situation is much the same. Some players have reported successful bank wires, while others have reported being denied cashout requests repeatedly.
Since so many U.S.-serving payment processors have been shut down, it is unclear how Full Tilt and PokerStars plan on getting money to American players. But if the sites’ official statements are to be believed, all players’ funds are safe and will be paid out accordingly.
Can U.S. Players Still Play Online Poker?
Yes, there are still many U.S. poker sites running online. While the closure of PokerStars and Full Tilt takes out two of the biggest American-market players, it doesn’t spell the end of online poker in the U.S.

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