Friday, February 02, 2007

The Last NETeller Spigot Snapped Off

One by one by one, the options have been taken away, and now poker players who still have funds remaining in NETeller are going to have to wait until this all shakes out to see if and when they'll get their funds. At 4 pm ET on February 1st, NETeller disabled peer-to-peer transfer capabilities. In explaining the move, NETeller cites the reasoning that customers were sending those monies on to non-U.S. customers to reinvest in gaming sites, but the evidence instead suggests that most people just wanted to get their money out of NETeller. However, when one is dancing with the U.S. feds, it's easy enough to spout the line most in tune with what the feds want to hear. After all, there's not much outsiders can do, is there?

Of course, there are people whose funds within NETeller are legitimate in their entirety, and whose use of that channel was just a matter of electronic convenience. It matters not --- those funds are on lockdown along with everything else. While the monies remain on hold in a third-party escrow account --- rumors of NETeller liquidity concerns irrelevant in this matter --- no one in the U.S. is going to see any more of their money unless and until NETeller and the U.S. DoJ reach some sort of agreement. The odds are highest that U.S. customers will eventually receive their funds, though timeframes on this vary from weeks to a year or more. (Hint: Nothing is going to happen until after the Super Bowl, as has been previously stated here. You may thank the NFL for this.)

However, while the odds remain high that checks will eventually be issued, the truth is that these monies are now being held hostage in a form of international negotiations. There is the very slight chance that NETeller could declare bankruptcy at some future date, and there is also a slight chance that the U.S. could make a power-play seizure and attempt to seize NETeller funds under RICO statue extensions. One duly notes that our government has an increasing tendency to fund itself through moves of this nature, a "fear tax," if you will. Still, such a blanket seizure would almost certainly spell NETeller's demise, could possibly trigger reciprocal measures from the EU and other interested parties, and would set off additional legal actions in virtually every imaginable venue.

The U.S. is a big bully, and its picked a big fight by not allowing NETeller to exit the market gracefully. This may not yet unfold the way the U.S. plans for it to occur. NETeller's forced situation may tumble or endanger a whole slew of delicate trade and extradition agreements, in classic house-of-cards fashion. It is very true that NETeller's merchant base now turns out to be almost exclusively online gambling sites, although a few stragglers have been hurt by this in ways that make personal accounts pale by comparison. If you're a U.S. user trying to fund a Skype account, you may have encountered difficulties, and those difficulties are connected to the NETeller situation.

It'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds, and unfortunately, it's again the little guys that are taking the brunt of it. I'm more negative on this situation than I have been at any time in the past. I'm fed up with this nation to the point where it's getting painful to think about the U.S. as being "my country," because at times, I just can't fathom what it's become.

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