bwin CEO Believes That FTP and Pokerstars Will Be "Frozen Out" Of a Regulated US Online Poker MarketPublished on 2010-08-21 23:03:00
If online poker is eventually licensed and regulated in the United States, will companies who have continued to service the US market post-UIGEA (Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, etc) be granted a license to operate in the country?
Norbert Teufelberger, co-CEO of bwin, doesn't think so.
According to a recent interview on EGRmagazine.com, Teufelberger believes that Pokerstars and Full Tilt are "operating illegally" in the US market, and that they would be "frozen out" of a regulated US market.
Teufelberger also said that if Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars are allowed to continue to operate in a regulated US market, then bwin (and other companies like it) pulling out of the market in 2006 will have been a major blunder.
When the HR 2267 bill was approved by the House Financial Services Committee in late July, an amendment was added that would allow sites to be disqualified from receiving a license if they have been found to have violated Federal or State gambling laws in the past.
Many industry observers (and a number of politicians) believe that this amendment was specifically written to prevent Pokerstars and FTP from gaining access to the lucrative US market if the bill is eventually signed into law. Both sites have benefited tremendously from remaining in the US market post-UIGEA, and there are a number of people who want them excluded from a regulated US market as punishment for continuing to accept US customers.
Lawyers for Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker, on the other hand, are supremely confident (at least outwardly so) that their clients will have no problem receiving licenses, as they maintain that neither company broke any US federal or state laws and should therefore be able to receive a license like any other company.
Norbert Teufelberger, who is co-CEO of a company that is about to merge with PartyGaming, disagrees and believes that Pokerstars and FTP will be shut out of the US market due to their past transgressions. At least, that's what Teufelberger hopes. PartyGaming/bwin would probably benefit more than any other company if FTP and Pokerstars didn't make it through the vetting process for a US license.
In April of 2009, PartyGaming announced a "non-prosecution agreement" with the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (USAO).
This agreement, which included the payment of a $105 million penalty spread out over eight half-yearly installments, came after lengthy negotiations with the US government. Part of the deal was PartyGaming agreeing that they had targeted US citizens prior to pulling out of the market in October of 2006, which had resulted in the "processing of transactions that were contrary to certain US laws."
PartyGaming/bwin is obviously hoping that the "statement of facts" that they signed in 2009, which included an admission that they had acted "contrary to certain US laws", will end up helping to prevent both Pokerstars and FTP from eventually entering a regulated US market.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out if/when online gambling legislation is signed into law in the United States..
Source: EGRmagazine.com - US pull-out could be "biggest mistake" admits Bwin chief
Filed Under: Poker Legislation