Thursday, January 18, 2007

It Was Fun, Neteller

As expected, Neteller has completely pulled the plug on allowing US players to deposit to any horrible, immoral online gambling sites.

It should be noted, though, that they're not closing the accounts of US citizens, and they went out of their way to make it very clear that you can still use your Neteller account, can still transfer from account to account, etc. I wonder how much of that is wishful thinking and how much of that is tacit acknowledgement that we'll likely see all sorts of sites crop up in the near future that will serve as middlemen to get funds to poker sites for you, accepting a Neteller transfer or Paypal payment from you and, for hefty juice, then moving funds into your player accounts at poker sites.

It's probably a moot point, as I imagine most banks will move to prevent US citizens from electronically transferring funds to Neteller simply based on their past activities. Interesting, though, especially since they have no real business other than serving the gambling market, so it's not like keeping US accounts active will keep the trains running in other areas where merchants accept Neteller transactions.

Too bad there's no practical use for the 27 million Neteller points (no, really, I actually have 27 million Neteller points in my account) I have in my account. I kept holding out hope they'd open a schwag store at some point or at least something other than the pseudo money draws they hold that no one ever wins, despite buying a ginormous number of entries with their Neteller points.

For everyone patting themselves on the back for setting up Click2Pay accounts and other e-wallets, sorry kids, but the writing is on the wall. FirePay and Neteller have already rolled over (and Citadel has pulled out as well, just based on what transpired with Neteller) and there still aren't any regulations on the books that they have to comply with. If any company might have held out and fought the good fight (and had the resources to do so), it was Neteller.

As for a new company stepping in to fill the e-wallet void, that's just wishful thinking. Rini has a better explanation as to why that's a pipe dream, as far as the backend difficulties, but you also have to take into account how broad the language in the UIGEA really is, as far as who can be charged with a felony for aiding and abetting US citizens in gambling online.

Remember, while the Neteller guys that got pinched were co-founders and obviously highly visible, they had absolutely nothing to do with the day to day operations of Neteller currently. They were simply ex-employees. And completely fair game to go after, due to how broad the language of the UIGEA is.

Any current online gambling site (or any e-wallet start-up) would be similarly at risk, so it's not just a matter of the founders or execs being willing to move to a country that doesn't like to extradite people to the US, as well as being willing to never return to the US for the foreseeable future. Every employee of the company would be assuming that same risk, from programmers to affiliates to customer service reps. And you have to believe that anyone openly flaunting the enforcement attempts by the US and launching a new e-wallet company would have a huge, huge bullseye firmly planted on their chests.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post. It's looking bleak.