ePassporte Discontinues US Poker Deposit Services
According to reports emanating from numerous sources, online payment processor ePassporte has discontinued its deposit services to online poker sites for US residents. A statement announcing ePassporte's decision to withdraw was previously mailed to officials of sites using the service, details of which are now being leaked to the general public.
To date,ePassporte has not issued a public statement on their decision to withdraw, but were pressured by US authorities to exit the market. As ePassporte's letter stated, the move was in response to "a widespread investigation of Internet gambling, including poker, by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Southern New York." This is the same jursidiction involved in the high-profile case against NETeller founders Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre last year. The ePassporte letter also included this: "Although we do not believe we have done anything illegal, we do not wish to be associated with anything that might be considered illegal by the United States Government."
Poker-discussion forums were abuzz with the news that ePassporte had disappeared as a deposit option on major sites serving the US market. One major site formerly offering ePassporte services, Full Tilt, communicated in an e-mail that, "We have recently been notified by ePassporte that they are no longer able to facilitate deposits or withdrawals between ePassporte and Full Tilt Poker player accounts." Also frequently excerpted on forums was an e-mail from CakePoker, which said in part, "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."
EPassporte continues to have a thriving business in other market sectors. Some industry watchers believed that the firm's previous decision to service only online poker, and not other forms of online gambling, would protect the company regarding specific US legal moves against online gambling. Unofficial reports suggest that customers are still able to withdraw ePassporte funds from their online accounts via electronic file transfer and ATM card methods.