VIP Sports, Matchbook no longer accepting players from Washington State

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Washington State residents are no longer able to ante up at VIP Sports (SBR rating B+), or Matchbook (SBR rating B-). In 2006, the United States SAFE Port Act was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. The act contained a last minute passage regarding internet gambling, labeled the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The UIGEA makes it illegal for US banks to process transactions to and from known gambling operators. The act does not state that it is unlawful for citizens to wager online and does not list  penalties for doing so. | Full report     

Placing a sports bet does not violate federal law. States can pass their own laws against placing bets. Many states have archaic criminal laws against gambling, even the act of running a raked poker game amongst friends would be classified as illegal. Washington State is the only state with a Class C felony provision for wagering online. The hypocrisy of outlawing the only form of gambling that does not monetarily benefit the state, whilst allowing the operation of racebooks, Indian casinos, and the State lottery has been covered by various offshore gambling pundits — even U.S. Congressman Barney Frank attempted to overturn portions of the UIGEA.

Washington State residents are left hoping that not all online gaming sites will turn them away. Poker Stars, VIP Sports, and Matchbook have been among the first to take a hard line in no longer allowing Washington State residents to play or create an account. Poker Stars players have confirmed receiving the entirety of their balances. VIP Sports and Matchbook  recently imposed their restrictions. One SBRforum poster addressed the changes in a forum post in the Sportsbook & Industry section.

It has been reported that $8,000,000 in funds associated with online poker have been seized by Washington State authorities. It is alleged by that Forbes Magazine has reported that funds were debited directly from player's checking accounts by banks at the behest of Washington State officials. The banks quoted in the article include JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. Several payment processors have also been crippled or forced to shutdown. The most recent processor to withdraw from the US Market is eWalletXpress, a site that allowed sports players to fund their sportsbooks accounts through their checking accounts.

Washington State Gambling Commission:

Gambling has a history of connection to crime and corruption and as a result is strictly controlled virtually everywhere. Just because gambling occurs on the Internet doesn't change this potential or the concern. The Washington State Gambling Commission was created to keep the criminal element out of gambling and to protect the public. The new law supports the Commission's efforts at fulfilling that responsibility.

Businesses and individuals that have a Washington State gambling license undergo background checks to reduce the likelihood of criminal involvement, must follow rules designed to keep games fair and honest. Must disclose all source of funds.sites to solicit players from the U.S. to gamble on their site. Washington State is part of a multi-state and federal task force that is looking into education, awareness, and coordinating enforcement activities, in order to deter Internet gambling.

VIP Sports
In February of 2007, SBR reported that VIP Sports would no longer accept new clients from the United States. Existing US customers that had deposited in the past were allowed to continue using their accounts as normal. Phone wagering was discontinued. It is not much of a surprise with Washington State's interests in going after both those that operate and wager at gambling sites that VIP Sports would disallow Washington State residents from playing there any longer. Players can write to or submit sportsbook complaints to give their feedback on how smoothly the process of withdrawing from their accounts for the last time goes.

Matchbook permits all US residents with the exception of Washington State residents to operate an account. Matchbook was recently covered by SBR in a report that highlighted Matchbook ownership's plan to seperate from WSEX Sportsbook (SBR rating D).

There has been a major movement on behalf of online poker players to regulate and tax internet poker rooms. The executive director of the Poker Player's Alliance, John Pappas gave an interview on Bloomberg TV on December 17th of 2010. While there has been continued lobbying for online poker, most in the media pay little attention to the rights of sports bettors. Professional sports league villainize the act of sports wagering while turning a blind eye to the immense profits generated by the interest of sports bettors.

Despite the efforts of Washington State and others to funnel gambling into State approved channels, the offshore industry has stabilized following the 2006 panic created by the US legislation. Many players have reported consistent sportsbook payouts and enjoyable wagering experiences. SportsbookReview remains available as an outlet to receive all sportsbook disputes including slow-pay complaints, bonus disputes, customer service complaints and general feedback.

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