To many people, Friday 15th April 2011 wont mean much, or go down in history as a date to be remembered. But to every single online poker player, it will forever be associated as the day the DOJ in America seized the domain names of the 3 largest online poker providers. Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Cereus which incorporates Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker lost access to their operations in the USA under the laws of UIGEA, which was introduced in 2006 by the government of the day.
That explains the whole situation surrounding the UIGEA Act and the Safe Port Act which is aimed at preventing online gambling for monies. I am almost certain that governments around the world are waking up to the fact of how big online gambling has become these days and they want a slice of the action by way of taxation, either on deposits, or winnings.
The DOJ in USA decided that the 3 main providers of internet poker had broken the laws of the UIGEA and Safe Port Act. The FBI closed them down and now the fallout is being felt across the globe.
Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars were quick to act and signed an agreement with the government of the USA so that they could process withdrawals from players based there, who had lost access to their accounts. Players can now withdraw from the two sites, obtaining monies that rightfully belong to them. Sadly, Cereus [UB/AP] did not sign up to that agreement and left its USA based players continue to play.
Then, a withdrawal limit was imposed on all players with accounts on the Cereus Network. Suddenly, the maximum withdrawal was set at $250 in any 7 day period. That struck many of us as odd, but understandable in the circumstances. Yesterday, the whole sad situation blew up again and Cereus Network, owned and run by Blanca Gaming, filed for bankrupcy in Norway. They laid off somewhere in the region of 95% of support staff and closed live help and support. Players are unable to make any withdrawals at this time and the future is unclear.
The Cereus Network has had its fair share of problems over the years. The Superuser Scandal being one of them,
Then, very recently, there was the SSL encryption controversy, which informed players that the poker sites on Cereus were not using SSL encryption,
So, taking all that [and then some] into account, it is no great surprise that Blanca Gaming, owners of the Cereus brand decided to file for bankrupcy. They appear to be run by incompetent people and have courted controversy at every turn. Owners and shareholders have been accused of many crimes, none of which have been proven, but there is seldom smoke without fire.
Thats all bad news for any players with accounts on the Cereus Network. Sadly, on a personal level, I have somewhere in the region of $2k on UB & Absolute Poker, with $500 of that in pending withdrawals, which I doubt I will see in the near future. You build a bankroll to hopefully enable you to move up in stakes and some unscrupulous bastard comes along to rip you off. Whether any of us with see any of our cash is open to debate right now. I am hoping that when the dust settles, payments will be made. That money was earmarked for a special occasion, but that will have to be put on hold until this mess is sorted out.
So be warned, whatever you do right now, if you play poker DO NOT sign up to any offers from Cereus, they are worthless and you will more than likely lose your money.
Apparently, Blanca gaming are not filing for bankrupcy, they are in the process of streamlining their interests in the rest of the world after whats transpired in the USA. So maybe it’s not all doom and gloom and there is a glimmer of hope that we might just see some of our money back after all.