Paper Checks, Wires, Western Unions: No Easy Bait For Online Poker Fish

Written by:
Aaron Goldstein
Published on:
online poker

The dramatic turn of events this week in the world of online poker, whereby the largest card room in the world has stopped allowing eCheck transactions from numerous US states, has many players worried.

PokerStars has suggested that paper checks, bank wires and Western Union is still an option available for deposit and withdrawal, but for the vast majority of so-called “fish”, these are not viable options.  Small time poker players (or “fish”), who help build volume in rooms, are less likely to sign up with or deposit funds using any method other than credit card or eChecks. 

“The poker sites are getting a taste of what the online sportsbooks have had to endure for years now,” said Chris Costigan, Publisher of the website.  “Offering only Western Union and bank wires stymies growth.  Building customer volume in this day and age can only be achieved by offering credit card/eCheck platforms.  This is the case with any Internet-based business.  These are the common forms of payment online, not Western Union.

“The “fish” are less likely to step away from their computers and head for a Western Union location, some of which are perceived as being ‘seedy’,” Costigan added.  “There is also a pretty steep fee for each Western Union transaction.  The high rollers in sports betting are willing to use this method.  The recreational sports bettors are not.  This will be the case with online poker rooms that do not offer the eCheck or credit card option as well.”

Some of the online poker rooms catering to US citizens were still allowing eCheck deposits (see online poker rooms here). 

So far, it’s hit or miss as to where PokerStars eCheck deposits will or won’t go through.  

The eCheck method of deposit was currently unavailable at PokerStars in Nevada, New York, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, New Jersey and Maryland.

Paper checks are also being returned so do not attempt to cash them if you are a PokerStars client.  

This crisis stems from a payment processor cooperating with Federal investigators out of the US Attorney’s office in Maryland.

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- Aaron Goldstein,