Saturday, April 12, 2008

Something Is Up with ePassporte

ePassporte“To be honest, this is the 3rd-worst day in the history of online poker, behind only the passage of the UIGEA itself and Neteller closing its doors to US players. This is the worst news we’ve had in a long time, and the future of online poker is starting to look troubled.”

So wrote one poster just after midnight last night in response to rumors regarding the fate of ePassporte, the popular deposit/withdrawal option for online poker players. Earlier in the evening, a frequent, respected contributor on Two Plus Two had posted a brief, agonizingly cryptic note saying that “Apparently, epassporte has pulled the plug on US poker players, effective 1:00 p.m. PDT this afternoon.” Thus followed the expected back-and-forthing over the validity of the OP’s claim . . . .

Someone emailed PokerStars support who told him “ePassporte seems to be undergoing some technical issues and is currently not available.” Another got a note from Stars saying they were “aware of the rumors in the message boards, but we have not received . . . a message from ePassporte” suggesting they were no longer allowing transactions to or from the site.

Someone else then noted that ePassporte had been removed as an option from Absolute Poker. A later poster clarified that ePassporte had never appeared as an option on the main cashier page, but that it had been listed as a choice when one went to deposit. No more, though.

Then came the news that Cake Poker had removed ePassporte altogether. This time, the news was supported with an email from Cake support, subsequently got cut-and-pasted numerous times from different posters. The email, addressed “To all Cake Poker customers,” began by saying “We have received notice from ePassporte today that they are unable to continue to provide CakePoker with merchant e-wallet services. We have since confirmed that this situation is not unique to CakePoker and is, in fact, industry wide.”

That last sentence appeared to confirm the original rumor, and the conversation quickly began to exhibit a more resigned tone. Said one poster, “I think we are past the point of debating whether or not it is true.”

Another poster shared a screen shot from the Full Tilt Poker cashier pageAnother poster shared a screen shot from the Full Tilt Poker cashier page. “Unfortunately, we are currently unable to process your ePassporte transaction,” the pop-up read. “Please try one of our other transaction options, or try again in 24 hours.” Around midnight someone else reported “Full Tilt dropped ePassporte. It’s over.”

Threads emerged in the other forums as well, including Internet Gambling and News, Views, and Gossip. Someone in IG noted around midnight of ePassporte that “It's completely gone from TruePoker.” Sometime later another reported he had tried to withdraw from Ultimate Bet using ePassporte “and got a [message that] ‘Epassport is having technical problems’ and [was told] to contact Epass for more info.” This morning, another poster noted he had “just got off the phone with a manager in Pitbull poker and they confirmed that they no longer are working with Epassporte”

Sprinkled through all of the discussions were reports from some who had gotten through to ePassporte support, and in each case they were told that indeed the issue was related to technical problems and that no policy changes had occurred. When asked about Cake Poker’s announcement, ePassporte support people responded that Cake was mistaken.

I personally never opened an account with ePassporte. After Neteller exited stage left, I never tried to open account over there. But a lot of online players did make the switch to ePassporte, and many had come to rely on the funding option as heavily as they had Neteller.

No idea what the truth is here, or whether, indeed, we’re looking at what will be regarded as another dark day in the recent history of online poker. (Not seeing any clarifications on the ePassporte website.) If it is true, Mark over on Plan3tGong has run through some possible options for you ePassporte people.

One thing is clear, though. As with those other days alluded to above -- the day the UIGEA was passed & the day of Neteller’s exit -- we are once again seeing demonstrated the relative powerlessness of the online poker player in the face of the industry’s currently ambiguous legal (and regulatory) status.

As they say . . . developing . . . .

(EDIT [added 4/14/08]: Looks like the rumors are true: ePassporte is no longer servicing online poker sites. In a letter from the financial transaction provider to PitBull Poker, ePassporte notes that they “have been advised that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is conducting a widespread investigation of internet gambling, including poker.” Read the entire letter here. Sounds more than a little ominous, don’t it . . . ?)

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Blogger kurokitty said...

And yet, it's not the be-all end all. The fees you had to absorb to deposit with ePass to Full Tilt were crazy.

The context is that poker Web sites have moved to e-checks, which are way more convenient for deposits.

If Moneygram were suddenly off limits at Poker Stars, now that would be a story.

4/12/2008 12:10 PM  
Blogger JohnTrout said...

Nothing worse than paying the fee for transfer, calling the bank card company to verify the purchase, then finding that neither Full Tilt nor Stars accepts the e-passporte transfer. I agree that the surcharge is so bad that it's irritating even to consider it. I didn't want to open a separate bank account for my poker life, since I *thought* when I got the specific credit card, that would be my accounting system. As an average $1-2 player, I am likely just to give up the online game if I bust my last couple of hundred bucks, and wait for the internet gaming fiasco to get changed. I was glad that at least I could use epass, because I play for fun, but this is ridiculous. My friends at Ante Up (Chris and Scott, great podcast with terrific contributions from Shamus) and Pokerati (Shamus again!) seem not be bothered by using e-checks, but I would rather be able to use the credit card. Thanks for addressing this in your blog--although I didn't see your comment until I'd tied up another $500 on epass...wonder if I can ever get it back!

4/13/2008 11:47 AM  

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