New Legislation to Safeguard Players’ Money

Poker player with a weak hand

New safeguards are being put in place to ensure that British players are protected if a poker site folds and closes down. Under new UK legislation, poker sites will be required to demonstrate to players how their money is protected, and what the reimbursement procedure would be in the event that the poker site became insolvent. This is great news for the whole industry, as the better safeguarding of player interests will mean increased player trust, and thus less oppositional relationship between players and sites.

What’s new?

As of the 31st December 2014, any poker sites licenced in the UK will be required to include in their terms and conditions a full explanation of the ways in which players’ deposited funds are safeguarded against the insolvency of the site. Sites will then have until the 2nd February 2015 to introduce a new click box for new players to check, which will confirm that they have read and understood the new protection procedures.

Under the new regulations sites will need to keep their players’ funds in trust, separate from the business accounts, and report regularly to a watchdog, to ensure they are doing enough to protect their players.

Why has this legislation been introduced?

The problem up until now has been that sites have not been required to put the money players deposit into trust, and have merely been able to keep it in an account as a business. What this means is that the player effectively becomes an unsecured creditor to the site, who is owed either services or money, but has little leverage on reclaiming the money.

In the past, if the site closes while holding the player’s money, it’s more likely that the assets which make up the company would be divvied out between shareholders, or used to repay bank loans, with the players coming very low down the pecking order for reclaiming their money. This new legislation will protect players from losing out in this way, by requiring sites to ensure that money ‘borrowed’ from players is in safe place, away from the faltering business.

Will we notice a change?

Probably not. Most online and mobile poker players play at pretty major sites, and these don’t have a tendency of going bankrupt. Moreover, the big sites like Full Tilt and PokerStars already ensure that all player money is put in trust, and thus is already safeguarded against bankruptcy. It is only likely to be smaller sites which are affected. The only real difference you’re likely to see is a tick box asking you to confirm you have been made aware of the casino’s safeguarding procedures when you sign up.

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