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Poker News | World Poker News

ePassporte Abandoning US Players?

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By all accounts, ePassporte seems to be abandoning the U.S. market in the wake of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Through e-mails from various online poker websites to customers, it has become apparent that ePassporte is no longer working with U.S. customers, or any site that allows U.S. customers to play, but no official statement has been released by ePassporte itself.

The California-based company ePassporte provides a virtual debit card for customers, which allows transactions between their bank accounts and online companies. Its popularity soared when Neteller departed the U.S. market after the passage of the UIGEA.

Rumors began to swirl on the poker forum 2+2 on Friday, April 11, that ePassporte was unavailable. Customers who were experiencing problems with transactions were told by ePassporte representatives that there were “technical difficulties,” and there were no plans to stop transaction processing with U.S. customers.

Soon, however, confirmation of an actual shut-down came from two online poker sites – Full Tilt Poker and Cake Poker. Reportedly, ePassporte communicated with those sites – not their customers directly. Compatible Poker posted a copy of a letter sent from ePassporte to Pitbull Poker on Friday, which read, in part, “Although we do not believe we have done anything illegal, we do not wish to be associated with anything that might be considered illegal by the United States Government.” ePassporte is said to have cited “a widespread investigation of internet gambling, including poker” by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Southern New York.

Full Tilt sent an e-mail to its players: “We have recently been notified by ePassporte that they are no longer able to facilitate deposits or withdrawals between ePassporte and Full Tilt Poker player accounts.”

Cake Poker sent a similar e-mail: “We have received notice from ePassporte today that they are unable to continue to provide CakePoker with merchant e-wallet services. We have since confirmed that this situation is not unique to CakePoker and is, in fact, industry wide.”

Currently, players are reporting that they are able to withdraw funds from their ePassporte accounts. Since there has been no official word from ePassporte, it is impossible to know how long this option will be available, so persons on the forums are advising each other to withdraw funds immediately.

Perhaps some online sites sensed that this development would come about eventually. PokerStars was the first site to look into and adopt the use of Instant eChecks. This process allows U.S. customers to perform a transaction that takes only minutes, whereby Instant eChecks instantly verifies the customer’s bank account information, begins processing the transaction, and makes funds available in an online poker account immediately. The poker room is charged a $2 fee per check, but the customer is allowed to use the service free of charge.

PokerStars was the first site to make Instant eChecks available to all customers. Full Tilt Poker has begun the process and is experimenting with the program, allowing only some players to use it at this time. However, with the withdrawal of ePassporte from the U.S. market, Full Tilt might be prompted to make Instant eChecks available to all players.

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