It looks like Western Union is getting tough, tough on gamblers that use their service to send money to online gambling companies. In the last month we have heard from four different players, playing at four different places that have all had their funds stopped and confiscated by Western Union.
It started with a call right before the holidays that a player had $2000 stopped by Western Union. Apparently the receiver was on a ‘blacklist’ of some kind. We did not find this to be incredibly odd as over the last few years this has happened occasionally, perhaps a couple of times each football season. Then another call came in, this time the amount seized was $2500. Over the New Year’s weekend, an email came in from a sportsbook that a player of theirs had the same thing happen. His cost: $2000. Then came in a big one, this player had sent 2K, twice , within fifteen minutes of each other. Again, the name sent to was flagged by Western Union as being associated with fraud. In the end, he was out $4000.
In the rules from Western Union,”You and Receiver represent that your use of Services does not violate: (a) any law, including, without limit, laws relating to money laundering, illegal gambling activities, support for terrorist activities or fraud”. This gives the company the opportunity to stop cash sent for the purposes of Internet gambling. And they are now aggressively going after funds for gambling. If nothing else, they get to keep hundreds of dollars in fees. And even if the player does recover the funds, the fees will never be returned.
And online gambling companies do not take responsibility. One sportsbook owner told us that “until I actually get that players money, it’s not my responsibility.” Though this may seem alarming to players, it is reality. With all of the other hurdles that Internet gambling companies have to overcome with the collection and payment of money to US players, it is not surprising that this is the stance that most companies take. However, almost all companies are also sympathetic to some degree and many will put the fees that Western Union confiscates into player accounts. We have heard of this from 3 different outlets.
So what did these players do? They lied to Western Union about the reason for sending the money and got it refunded. Except for the player who is out the most, 4K. The name that he was given was not just associated with ‘fraud’, it was also linked to the big evil for Western Union, illegal online gambling. He has a big problem now that (hopefully) will get resolved.
The big question from players has been, “Is it safe to send money with Western Union?” The answer is the first method ever used for sending money to an offshore gambling company is still a viable option. The above problems all occurred with players sending 2K or more. The biggest problem, involves the most money. We have not had a players deposit get flagged for a couple of hundred dollars. One very reliable source confirmed our suspicions, “Western Union is cracking down,” we were told. The source added, “The magic number with Western Union and Moneygram that gets flagged is $1500”.
What is shocking is that the gaming companies know this is happening, but a quick perusal of the top gaming websites shows a maximum deposit using these methods at $2000-2500 at most outlets. This high number is understandable since the operators don’t take responsibility for the transactions and most deposits do not get caught in Western Union’s web.
The lesson to be learned here is that the UIGEA is continuing to make the transfer of money more and more difficult. Due to the law Western Union had to do something, and they are now watching, closely. Players who use this method should consider lowering their deposit amount when making transfers or find another method that will work for them. Players who send smaller amounts really have nothing to worry about and we have not heard reports of Western Union stopping a couple of hundred dollars.