NETeller’s Return to United States Online Poker Market
United States-based online poker players are likely to soon enjoy new payment-processing options with an old and well-regarded company, as NETeller continues moving forward with its official return to regulated American markets.
NETeller and its parent company, Optimus Payments, have already established a toehold in New Jersey and Nevada, with deals in place in both states with prominent rooms serving those nascent online poker markets. In New Jersey, both WSOP.com and BorgataPoker.com had previously announced major deals to bring NETeller services to their customers, and now the same process is beginning in Nevada, where that state’s regulators have also approved a WSOP.com / NETeller processing relationship.
In the latest news from Nevada, players at WSOP.com will be able to deposit via NETeller. Withdrawal options will also soon be made available. For now, the online processor’s most likely service will be as workaround for would-be players whose credit-card issuing banks refuse to process any sort of gambling transactions, regardless of legality. Since NETeller balances can be used at any business that accepts the form of payment, the firm is not a gambling business, and can thus serve as an intermediary.
Eventually, in both Nevada and New Jersey, as well as any other states that will also regulate online poker and have entities that enter into working agreements with the company, the firm will provide a complete of processing options including both its NETeller and NET+ debit card, allowing players to access their funds via ATM.
While it’s not quite the halcyon days of last decade for the firm, it’s a promising series of steps. Once upon a time, NETeller was a major force in the processing of online-poker deposits and withdrawals for United States-based players, replacing Firepay as the processor of choice. NETeller became a primary target of the Department of Justice’s post-UIGEA efforts, however, and was forced out of the US market within months of that law’s passage in late 2006.
That tumultuous series of events, in which US players had their NETeller funds frozen for many months, also triggered the following:
- The arrest of original NETeller founders John Lefebrve and Steven Lawrence;
- The seizure of tens of millions of dollars of in-transit money from channels connected to the United States’ electronic-banking ACH system;
- The closure of NETeller’s Canada offices, and eventual relocation and reorganization in Great Britain, where the company’s operations are located today. That move put the firm inside the European market, where it remained an attractive option for online poker players;
- The creation of the new company, Optimal Payments PLC. NETeller itself was relegated to brand-name status where it remains today.
Optimal first announced the return of the the NETeller brand to the US online poker space about five weeks ago. Among the other moves made by the company was to bring on Thomas Auriemma as an advisor on strategic and regulatory matters. Auriemma is well-suited to that advisory role, having served as the chairman of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) from 2002 to 2007.
Auriemma also has held executive roles at Penn National Gaming, and, according to a press release issued by Optimal, “has also served as the secretary, vice chair and chair of the International Association of Gaming Regulators and is a member of the International Association of Gaming Advisors and the International Masters of Gaming Law.”
The NETeller deal is also expected to be expanded to other Caesars-operated online poker sites in New Jersey and Nevada, though the WSOP.com introduction remains the primary focus. Such an expansion would mirror the Optimal deal with the Borgata, which brings NETeller services to three Borgata site in total — BorgataCasino.com, BorgataPoker.com and nj.partypoker.com.