Is PokerStars Safe? European Players Concerned

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Is PokerStars Safe?

The ramifications of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission suspending Full Tilt Poker’s license on Wednesday has led to many Europeans and those around the world asking the question:  Is PokerStars safe?

The short answer to that question would be:  “We really don’t know”.

While PokerStars to its credit has paid back all US players in full, the company was among those indicted with Full Tilt Poker and on April 15, 2011, charged with bank fraud and money laundering by the US Justice Department.  Two of the company’s executives, also named in the complaint, do remain on the lam. 

PokerStars is alleged to have violated US laws by disguising massive amounts of online gambling transactions as dog food and golf balls while working in conjunction with one Utah-based bank it had allegedly “invested money into”. 

It appears, based on an initial statement by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, that the Full Tilt Poker license was revoked only after applied pressure from the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, as opposed to outcries from enraged US players still waiting for their funds to be paid by FTP. 

Could the Isle of Man, which licenses PokerStars, follow Alderney’s lead?

It’s doubtful but not entirely out of the realm of possibility.  PokerStars on the surface appears to be working with US authorities in resolving its legal issues while ensuring its customers around the world get paid in a timely fashion.

There are indications that the US Attorney’s primary focus has been on Full Tilt Poker, mainly due to it having assets in the US and “flaunting their US presence.  Homes owned by Full Tilt founder Raymond Bitar were seized within weeks of the indictment. 

Sources close to have vehemently stated that Full Tilt Poker’s pro players claiming to “own shares” in the company could ultimately be charged though prosecutors are less likely to follow such a route.

“That would be a public relations nightmare for the Justice Department,” our source stated. 

There has been wide speculation that Howard Lederer, a chief player spokesperson for Full Tilt Poker, could end up becoming the “sacrificial lamb” for FTP.

As for PokerStars being safe, advises playing there with caution.  In other words, only leave small amounts of money in your account at any given time. 

Let’s face it, the likes of Full Tilt Poker Finnish high stakes pro Patrik Antonius, who flaunted the millions he was winning on FTP with the lack of US players on that site over these past two months, appears now to be in the same boat as Phil Ivey and others who can’t get their money out.

- Chris Costigan, Publisher