The most common question friends looking to get into online poker ask me is, “How do I put money on an online poker site?” In the past, there were tons of methods, now it’s perpetually difficult. Today, I have a few options for you to answer that question since credit cards don’t always work 100% of the time (both for state and offshore websites), and PayPal is no longer servicing gambling transactions at sites licensed outside the European Union other than at US state licensed poker sites (New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware). In this article I’ll cover the best ways to deposit into poker sites from the US and how it works.
Depositing via Credit Card
As we mentioned in the intro to this article, many US credit card companies attempt to block transactions to US poker sites. The reason for this is twofold. For starters, under US laws gambling debts are not enforceable in court. There have been quite a few cases where gamblers have sued credit card companies and won. Therefore, it is no wonder why most credit card companies try to block US gambling transactions.
The second reason is the UIGEA, a law that passed in 2006 which made it illegal for banks and financial institutions to aid in funding online sports betting accounts. Although this doesn’t apply to poker, due to the already high risk gambling transactions posed and the hefty fines and penalties involved, most credit card companies abandoned all forms of gambling transactions deemed – gambling – even if it comes from legal state lotteries let alone poker. A bite in the butt for the WSOP and other major US poker sites that are currently struggling in the three regulated markets (DE, NV, & NJ), primarily New Jersey.
While we’re not sure how they do it (ahem, yes I do but I can’t really say), one offshore site Ignition Poker (previously named Bovada) remains the most successful in processing most US based credit cards for VISA users. Non-visa users still are having most success at Betonline.ag, they accept all credit cards but their success rate per card is lower than others. They accept American Express but to use it you must have at least $250 in your account and have deposited a minimum of five times using a different method. So yea, first time Amex users are out of luck at all sites. These poker rooms are consistently in the top 3 highest player volume and host some of the softer games online (more players at tables).
Depositing via Western Union or MoneyGram
This method might seem like more of a hassle than it’s worth, however there is a large benefit to using one of these cash transfer services to deposit particularly if you don’t deposit a lot! That benefit is, no holds on your funds. For example, when you deposit via credit card you’ll generally need to wait for the deposit to clear in full. When you deposit via Western Union or MoneyGram your funds are free and clear right from the start.
While not all sites advertise the acceptance of Western Union or MoneyGram, nearly all poker sites do accept this deposit method. How it works is simple. First, request details from the poker site on who to send to. Second, head to your local supermarket or Wal-Mart with these details and enter them on a form, then submit the form along with cash. You’ll then be given a money transfer number or a money control number to provide to the poker site. Most sites will credit your account instantly once received and also give you a bonus the size of the transaction fee, making this deposit method free of fees.
Our favorite poker website accepting this method of deposit is www.IgnitionPoker.eu (previously named Bovada).
Deposit with eWallet
An eWallet can best be described as an online bank account. While it is not actually a bank account it acts very much like one. Here you can pre-load funds via a variety of banking methods, most commonly credit cards. These funds are then stored in your eWallet account and can be used to deposit at poker sites accepting that eWallet. Also, when it comes time to cash-out you can request withdrawals to an eWallet. Then, use those funds at another US poker site or cash them out, usually via bank transfer or paper check.
Each site will tend to use their own ewallet so first find a site you want to play, and see what kind of ewallets they have available. Important Note: This option is becoming limited, especially for USA players.
Other Deposit Methods
The banking options available at US poker sites are constantly changing. Also, many sites have their own banking methods exclusive to their site. These are simply third party processors that sites use which makes it possible for players to deposit. If there is a certain US poker site you’d like to play at but are not sure which method to use for deposit, it would be a good idea to contact that particular poker site for support.
Once you get started playing US poker online, we wish you the best of luck at the tables.
Depositing via eCheck
Editor Note: This method is essentially obsolete because so many people were using it to bounce checks and not pay their debts. Because of this, almost every gambling site I know of has removed eChecks from the cashiers. Some people still look it up so I’ll keep the information up for historical purposes. Also, states with licensed poker sites accept eChecks. Offshore sites do not because they can not enforce fraud – which happens more than intermittently.
If you’re playing at one of the large online poker sites such as Betonline or Bovada the best way to deposit was echecks, but no longer allowed in the USA. An eCheck works just like a regular check, except all the data is entered online. While there is no need to concern yourself with how this works on the poker site’s side of things, but for those of you who are curious, the poker site receives the information you entered, prints a paper check which says “electronically authorized no signature required”, then sends it to their bank for deposit. These types of checks take a long time to clear, often as many as 7-20 business days. The good news is that as long as your account is in good standing, poker sites will credit your account instantly.
There are a couple downsides to eChecks. For starters, that 7-20 business day clearing time we mentioned. While your account is instantly credited, you might not be able to cash those funds out until your check clears. Each site has a different policy, and PokerStars seems to be the most fair, restricting only your deposit amount while the excess is available for immediate withdrawal. Other potential concerns are that not all sites accept eCheck, and the ones that do require personal details such as a full social security number, state issued ID, or both, to be entered when making a deposit.
Author: Savanah Lavinder
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