US poker players have been dealt another blow with news that PokerStars has frozen the accounts of those playing through a virtual private network (VPN). Stars are acting as per Department of Justice (DoJ) rules that are implicit in stating that any play from players on US soil is not allowed. VPNs are supposed to create a safe haven for those in the US wanting to hustle and it seems that connection discrepancies have been the problem here.
Point 5.11 in the Stars terms and conditions states:
Residents of the United States and United States Territories are not permitted to make deposits into their accounts or engage in real-money play. They may cash out their existing account balances. Residents of other nations are not permitted to engage in real-money play while located in the United States. Any attempt to circumvent the restrictions on play by residents of the U.S. or U.S. Territories, and by residents of other nations while located in the United States, is a breach of this Agreement. An attempt at circumvention includes, but is not limited to, manipulating the information used by PokerStars to identify your location and providing PokerStars with false or misleading information regarding your residence.
Stars have been able to identify the accounts when players have temporarily disconnected from the VPN. When this happens the IP address is no longer scrambled and it reveals the player’s true location and thus opens them up to having the account frozen. A list of frequently asked questions for US players adds to this answering the question “Can I use a VPN or IP randomizer to appear as though I am outside the US and still play on PokerStars.com from within the United States?” with:
No. Real money play is not allowed from within the US under any circumstances. Players who attempt to play for real money from inside the US with the aid of VPNs or other technical workarounds will lose their playing privileges and/or funds in their account.
It also means residents from other countries can’t play through a VPN whilst in the US without risking accounts being frozen. It goes to show the DoJ isn’t getting anymore lax with its rules on online poker companies and players should be as cautious as ever when using this or any site.
Of the sites indicted on Black Friday, Stars have so far been diligent in getting money back to players. In this case it remains unclear as to what will happen, PokerStars VIP manager Steve Day admitting on the TwoPlusTwo PokerCast they’re “not really sure what will happen yet.” He also added, “The accounts get frozen, and then we wait for guidance from the independent moderator who was appointed by the Department of Justice what to do with the funds in these accounts and what to do with the accounts in the future.”
Players will be confident that the money will eventually get back into their accounts and it just goes to show that right now playing in the United States is risky business.