VISA joins US online gambling crackdown

You'll need more than a VISA to crack America
You'll need more than a VISA to crack America

After Mastercard’s move last week to block US-registered credit card payments to gambling sites, VISA has now followed suit with a crackdown of their own, in a development that will have affected thousands of online gamblers.

Attempts by an eGaming Review reporter to use a US-registered Visa card on PokerStars yesterday, was declined with the poker giant reportedly issuing an email reply to the correspondent saying: ‘Your credit card transaction has been declined. If your credit card information was entered correctly and you have sufficient funds, your transaction was probably declined due to Internet gaming restrictions set by your credit card issuer.”

The news that VISA has joined poker’s party poopers will come as a major blow to US-facing operators and online poker players in the US – although those foreign operators, such as PartyGaming, who have been unable to provide gambling to America-based customers since 2006 and are repositioning themselves for the eventual revocation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (which bans the facilitation of online gambling by payment companies) will doubtless be pleased that those companies who have continued to operate and effectively steal the US market share that was once theirs are finding life tougher.

Some gambling sites have been circumventing restrictions on them by payment companies by re-coding ‘7995’ payments – transactions coded as ‘betting/casino gambling’ – as other forms of e-commerce but PokerStars has issued a strong statement refuting any suggestion of such involvement.

“PokerStars does not, nor ever has engaged in the practices of mis-coded credit card transactions,” read a carefully-worded statement. “We have therefore been unaffected by any crackdown by Visa or MasterCard to close down such mis-coded processing accounts.

“We allow the issuing bank to decide whether the transaction should be approved or declined according to the correct coding of that transaction as 7995. The only way that PokerStars is affected by credit card declines is when issuing banks in the United States (or indeed any other country) decide that they will decline 7995 coded transactions. In such instances it is company policy to provide the player with an alternative payment method.”

eGR issued an apology to PokerStars this morning for any implication that the online poker giant might be involved with the re-coding of ‘7995’ online gambling transactions, saying “eGaming Review apologises for any implication that PokerStars was among those operators that re-code transactions.”

However, guilty of rules-flouting or not, it will be interesting to see, in this moving story, how badly the likes of PokerStars and inded Full Tilt are affected by the more rigid stance being adopted by the credit card companies. Flexible friend, my arse…