888 Holdings, Plc., owner of Pacific Poker, today released a statement outlining its intention to ban U.S. gamblers from its poker rooms if President George W. Bush signs newly passed anti-online gambling legislation this month.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed by both houses of Congress this weekend after it was attached to an unrelated bill that seeks to increase security at U.S. ports.
While the bill does not declare Internet poker or gambling to be illegal, it does ban U.S. banking institutions from processing payments made by U.S. citizens via credit card, online money transfers and cheques to offshore Internet gambling firms.
888 Holdings, Plc. believes the passage of the bill indicates a significant development in the legal status of Internet gambling in the United States, one that is not favorable towards the industry, and has thus decided to prohibit U.S. customers from placing real money bets at Pacific Poker as well as all other 888 Holdings, Plc. owned online gambling venues.
The following excerpt was taken from today's statement:
"This legislation indicates Congressional intent to treat Internet gaming, whether sports related or not, as illegal. In addition, it is the first federal measure to address Internet gaming explicitly. This represents a significant development in the U.S. legal status. The Act also addresses certain jurisdictional and other uncertainties in the previous U.S. legal situation.
"In the light of these considerations, the Board has concluded that it is appropriate to suspend participation by U.S. based customers in activities covered by the legislation. The Company will implement this suspension immediately upon the legislation taking effect and the suspension will continue for so long as the legal situation remains the same.
"The Board will continue to seek clarification of the overall U.S. legal position to determine whether and to what extent if any resumption of participation by U.S. customers is feasible. At present however no assurance can be given that this will be possible. The Company will continue and develop those aspects of its U.S. business which are not affected by relevant legislation."
The company admitted that the suspension of U.S. activities will have an unfavorable effect on 2006-2007 results and possibly in the years to come, but said it has "significant cash resources which are more than adequate to continue its operations and further develop its business"
888 Holdings, Plc.'s announcement comes on the heels of a similar statement by PartyPoker.com owner PartyGaming, Plc., which also announced its intention to ban U.S. customers from its online gambling sites pending President Bush's signature on the new legislation.
Please see 888 Holdings, Plc.'s Web site at www.888holdingsplc.com for a full copy of the company's statement.