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Will Online Poker Players Lose their Money?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 27, 2011 6:44 AM

The online poker shutdown last week involving PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker has devastated players across the country for a variety of reasons.

But since the sites have been taken offline, players are mostly concerned about winnings stored in online poker accounts.

Where is it and can they have it back?

As part of the online poker shutdown, the FBI took over internet domains and froze more than 75 bank accounts across the world, reports the Associated Press.

However, the U.S. Attorney in charge of the prosecution has agreed to permit PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to resume the use of their domains so that users may withdraw funds from their poker accounts.

But the poker sites are saying that they cannot return the money without access to the frozen bank accounts, notes the Associated Press. The government contends that customer funds were never frozen, and they expect the sites to reimburse players.

It's going to be a while before players are able to withdraw online poker winnings, but the truth is that they're lucky the government is even returning the money in the first place.

The law behind the online poker shutdown also has the effect of federally criminalizing online betting.

The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act allows the government to seize property if the evidence shows that, by a preponderance of the evidence, the property is substantially connected to a crime.

It's not exactly difficult for prosecutors to connect online poker winnings to illegal online betting, meaning that if it decides to, the federal government doesn't have to return winnings.

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