American customers of the Everleaf Gaming Network (ELG) continue struggling to find ways to retrieve their online poker bankrolls as the network refuses to implement a viable US-player withdrawal option, months after the network’s departure from the US market.
“Instead of a US-approved refund process, which Everleaf officials hinted would occur, US players were provided three non-viable options” Everleaf, a tiny network servicing over 100 mostly anonymous skins, was one of a small handful of networks allowing Americans to play until receiving a cease-and-desist order in February 2012 precipitating its departure from the US markets.
An unknown amount was also seized by US Department of Homeland Security officials from at least one payment processor associated with Everleaf, Causash Establishment.
Causash was targeted by a Western District of Washington (State) seizure order in October 2011 allowing for the collection of 14 days’ worth of electronic transactions. Over $27k was seized, small by online standards, but indicative of Everleaf’s tiny toehold in the online market.
Following Everleaf’s departure, disrupted players waited for news of an alternate payment method to refund their payrolls.
In a March press release, Everleaf assured players that funds were “ring-fenced” and refunds would soon commence: “Everleaf reiterates and wants to reassure all the effected [sic] players that all the funds will be refunded in full and the effected parties will be contacted in a short while accordingly.”
“Nowhere has Malta’s LGA specifically addressed Everleaf’s failure to create viable payment options” Instead of a US-approved refund process, which Everleaf officials hinted would occur, US players were provided three non-viable options: Opening accounts at online wallets Neteller or Moneybookers—which don’t serve US customers—or opening up their own bank accounts outside the US.
A small number of US players have been able to open foreign bank accounts, but the logistics and travel expenses involve make it impossible for the vast majority of Everleaf’s former US players. In the meantime, the entire network has also been hit with withdrawal slowdowns, with processing time moving from hours or days to several weeks, regardless of country.
A Lack of Regulatory Oversight
Separately, Malta’s Lottery and Gaming Authority issued two brief statements on the matter, first imposing unspecified sanctions on Everleaf, then announcing the network was “addressing the identified non-compliances” in its operation.
Nowhere, however, has Malta’s LGA specifically addressed Everleaf’s failure to create viable payment options for all affected Americans.
The LGA is also experiencing public wrath over its recent failure to announce, in a timely manner, the April 23 termination of its regulatory oversight of Purple Lounge, a site on Entraction/IGT network. “Three months in, Everleaf shows little inclination to do anything other than allow American players to absorb the costs for its own risk-taking” The Media Corp.-owned site abruptly ceased operations in April, apparently notifying the LGA, but without offering refunds to its customers, saying only they will be contacted “in due course.”
Player Options Limited
Accurate figures on the number of Americans affected and the total dollars involved remain unavailable. Since most American players have bankrolls significantly smaller than the thousands of dollars that would make an international trip and creating a foreign bank account viable, the balances are, for most players, irretrievable.
Similarly, Everleaf has shown no interest in creating, in conjunction with its network skins, a refund solution for all players. Issuing money orders or cheques drawn on an international bank (but payable in US funds) is one example of an intermediate solution the network has ignored to date.
Three months in, Everleaf shows little inclination to do anything other than allow American players to absorb the costs for its own risk-taking in accepting wagers from US players. By not creating payment channels involving anything other than an electronic solution, the network virtually assured itself eventual United States-related difficulties.
Players can also contact the individual sites involved or the supposed governing body, the LGA. However, Everleaf’s turnkey offerings included aggregated banking services under two of the network’s options, Independent Aggregated Cardroom or Fully Managed Network Integrated Cardroom. Under both business packages, banking operations rest with the network, not the individual skin. The latter, Fully Managed Network Integrated Cardroom, is little more than a glorified affiliate deal.
As for the LGA, its minimal response to recent player complaints leaves little expectation it can proactively move Everleaf toward a prompt payment resolution.
Besides flagship-related Everleaf sites including Everleaf Poker and Minted Poker, some of the better-known sites on the network include Poker4Ever, LuvinPoker, Pokerari, 777 Poker Club, and Blue Dog Poker.