Online poker giant PokerStars recently suspended player accounts that were using Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to circumvent the U.S. ban on online gambling.

American poker players had been utilizing VPNs to mask the IP address, and physical location of their computer. But a glitch in the system allowed PokerStars IT staff brief glimpses at the player’s actual location if they logged off for a short period.

PokerStars has been aware of the problem for some time and specifically addresses it both on site FAQs and in their User Agreement. It states, “Residents of other nations are not permitted to engage in real-money play while located in the United States.” Though the message is clearly aimed at US players, some European players said in forums that their accounts had been frozen for playing while in the United States.

The move sent a clear message to players and affiliates that PokerStars is playing ball with the US Justice Department and rigorously enforcing their edicts.

PokerStars has not yet announced what will become of the funds in the suspended accounts. Company executives said in a podcast earlier this week that they would look for guidance from the Justice Department on this particular matter.

Because many of the newly frozen accounts had been set up after Black Friday, affiliates may start feeling its impact very soon. Worse still, many of the players caught in this latest round up had tens of thousands of dollars in their accounts.

Online poker forums lit up with dark conspiracy theories explaining exactly what they thought this latest twist meant. Some forum posters said that the accounts were only frozen when they players attempted to cash out.

But others pointed out that player accounts have always been subject to extra scrutiny at cash out time, particularly if they involve large amounts of money.

Above all, PokerStars’ actions show that company executives are serious about working with American authorities to keep Americans from online gaming.

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