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Gossip Column: Chris Moneymaker Wants to Sue PayPal, Invites Poker Players With Similar Experiences to Join His Class-Action Lawsuit

Gossip Column
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  • Namita Ghosh May 29, 2021
  • 4 Minutes Read

Who doesn’t know Chris Moneymaker, the former middle-class accountant who rose to overnight stardom after winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event for a life-changing $2.50 Million? His historic week is singularly credited for evoking the poker boom in the U.S.

In the poker community, Moneymaker, who represented PokerStars for 17 years, enjoys cult popularity. But the famed pro who shifted brand loyalties in February by joining Americas Cardroom (ACR) is not happy these days. And it’s only because of the fire he has been taking defending his employer for canceling Day 2 tournaments last week due to a technical glitch on the site.

If his recent tweets are anything to go by, Moneymaker is fuming at the online payment engine, PayPal, and is planning to sue the company. According to him, PayPal first froze his online account for six months before wrongfully seizing his entire $12,229 balance on the grounds that he was flouting the site’s anti-gambling policy.

Calling out the e-commerce giant for its alleged “immoral and illegal” practices, the Poker Hall of Famer admitted the money came from a fantasy football league he had coordinated during the 2020 NFL season. Nonetheless, he points out, this doesn’t warrant the e-commerce merchant to confiscate it.

Moneymaker has also thrown an open invitation to everyone in the poker community to join his campaign against PayPal. “Somebody has to stand up to these guys. I’m going to continue to use my status and my social media channels to expose these immoral and illegal practices and ask others to join my lawsuit against PayPal.”

Moneymaker first tweeted about the incident on May 18.

A week later, he invited players from the poker community who`ve had a similar experience with PayPal to reach out to his lawyers to join the class-action lawsuit they are preparing against Paypal.


The Problem

Moneymaker’s tweet evoked reactions from the poker community, and Mike Matusow was one of them.

Last May, Moneymaker with 11 other friends ran a fantasy sports league during the 2020 NFL season, each of them ponying up $1,100. The ACA brand ambassador had agreed to hold the funds in his PayPal account. In November, PayPal in an email notified him that his account has been frozen due to a breach of its User Agreement.

In a press release issued on his behalf by attorney Eric Bensamochan, Moneymaker detailed how PayPal first froze his online account for six months and only recently notified him that the entire balance of $12,229 was being confiscated.

“I’ll leave to my lawyers to determine what the law says, but I think this is straight-up theft, and Paypal is a payments bully. This is less about the money – though $12,000 is a lot of money – it’s about the principle of stealing other people’s money and hiding behind thousands of words of legal mumbo jumbo that no one reads.”

PayPal is known for its strong anti-gambling stance, given the U.S. government`s track record of taking enforcement actions against similar e-commerce companies like Firepay and Neteller on similar grounds. PayPal has only recently started permitting transactions for legal online gambling in regulated states like New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada and agreed to service WSOP.com in 2015.

The PayPal terms of service state – PayPal prohibits transactions for gambling activities by merchants and account holders in the U.S. and any jurisdiction where gambling activities are illegal … [A]ccount holders may not use PayPal to send or receive payments for any form of gambling activities, including but not limited to payments for wagers, gambling debts, and gambling winnings, whether conducted online, in person, or through any other means of communication.”

If Moneymaker does take PayPal to court as he has announced, the legal case will likely be built on the fact that PayPal’s User Agreement does not include the clause for confiscating funds in case of a violation.

By the sound of it, the poker icon is certainly not going to take this lying down. Hence, you could count on reading about future updates on this story in due course.

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