Poker icon Daniel Negreanu has a lot of money. With $32.3 million in live scores, the Toronto native is the world’s leading money winner in recorded live tournaments. That’s not counting his contract with PokerStars or any cash game winnings he has amassed throughout his long career in the industry.
Unfortunately, poker players don’t always have the best reputation and the constant deposit and withdrawal of large sums of cash make them a target for increased scrutiny. Some banks have even shunned legal online poker operators in the US, choosing not to process industry payments in New Jersey, Delaware, or Nevada, the three states where internet gambling is regulated.
Now it appears that Negreanu’s banking activity has triggered some red flags, leading his bank to close all of his accounts with no explanation:
Negreanu’s situation is not unique in the high-stakes poker world. Poker pro Doug Polkresponded to Negreanu’s message, claiming that his bank had done something similar one-and-a-half years ago. “They froze 700-800K of my money and didn’t tell me shit for two months,” he said. “Time to bank Chase.”
Poker pro Haralabos Voulgaris chimed in, saying, “100% your account will get closed as soon as Chase realizes you play poker.” Supernova Elite grinder Ankush Mandavia also claimed that he had been “perma-banned” from his bank without being told why.
In a subsequent Tweet, Negreanu laid the blame on a controversial program called Operation Chokepoint, a government initiative that investigates banking institutions that process payments for industries deemed to be at a higher risk of fraudulent activity. That can include everything from ammunition sales and dating services to payday loans and online gambling:
Operation Chokepoint has been heavily criticized, with some claiming that it is nothing more than a tool for the Obama administration to crack down on industries it doesn’t like. They say the program bypasses due process and pressures financial institutions to cut off certain companies’ access to banking services.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St.) told St. Louis media that the initiative is a “thinly veiled ideological attack on industries… such as gun sellers and coal producers.”
Negreanu also appeared to have his MasterCardcanceled:
Legal US online poker sites have themselves dealt with payment processing difficulties due to the misunderstanding surrounding their legality. In May of last year, Garden State iGaming companies were seeing over half of customers’ credit card payments rejected. Since then, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement officials have made a point to hold meetings with financial institutions and explain that their product is legal in the state. New credit card codes have also been issued.
Even so, companies like American Express and Discover refuse to do business with “high risk” industries like online gambling.
PayPal, however, is the lifeblood of the burgeoning daily fantasy sports industry and has recently been approved to offer its services in the three US states where iGaming is legal.