TD Bank skittish over US online gambling payments; HSBC hated Runner Runner

td-bank-hsbc-runner-runnerNew Jersey’s regulated online gambling market officially lost another payment processor this week as TD Bank expressed doubt in the legality of such transactions. Last week, a PartyPoker rep had alerted players that they were “seeing higher than normal decline rates for deposits using Visa cards issued by TD Bank:” On Monday, a TD Bank spokesman confirmed that the firm was getting out of the online gambling game.

Spokesperson Judith Schmidt told Law360 that TD Bank N.A., the New Jersey-based division of the Canadian banking giant, had decided to “decline online gambling transactions because of the challenges and risk in confirming the legality of those transactions, in regards to a state where online gambling is legal.”

Similar doubts have plagued the two states that now permit legal marijuana sales, with banks terrified that processing pot transactions that remain illegal under federal law will leave them at the Department of Justice’s mercy. Payment processing issues have been widely cited as a prime factor in the slow start of New Jersey’s regulated online gambling market, part of the reason why punters cheered when PayPal announced it was pondering a return to US shores.

TD is not the only bank expressing concern over gambling. The UK’s HSBC began ridding itself of bookmaking clients in July and InterGame recently reported on a figure from the casino industry who has now been told his account will be closed. The notice the anonymous customer received stated that a “recent strategic review” had concluded that gambling “will not be an area of focus for HSBC.”

An HSBC spokesman subsequently confirmed that the bank would ‘limit” its exposure to gambling, but said each individual case would be treated “on its merits.” Hard to believe that HSBC used to knowingly move money on behalf of Mexican drug cartels and Saudi Arabian banks with known ties to terror. Yes, it was lucrative but more importantly, it made them feel like they were playing parts in Scarface or Zero Dark Thirty. If the best the gambling industry can come up with is Runner Runner, it will continue to be ignored.