PokerStars set the online poker forums alight last night by announcing a margin on deposits and withdrawals that involve a foreign exchange transaction.
PokerStars players will today be reviewing the ways in which they conduct financial transactions with the world´s largest online poker site after it was announced that the company is introducing a foreign exchange margin on all deposits and withdrawals in which the transaction involves a different currency from which the PokerStars account is held in.
This change to the company´s terms and conditions will affect many players in Canada, Australia and Europe who have PokerStars accounts in US Dollars and who fund their accounts from a source held in their native currency (CAD, AU$, €uro, £GBP). The change only applies to deposit and withdrawals, and not to exchange rates when players with a PokerStars account in US dollars chooses to play on a €uro or £GBP cash game table.
Changes to Foreign Exchange Transactions on PokerStars
PokerStars last amended its policy relating to foreign exchange transactions in 2012, when it waived a previously applied 1% fee that was introduced to stop foreign exchange speculators using the PokerStars cashier as a means of cheap currency conversion. A rate of 0.50% was still maintained on currency conversions involving
non-standard currencies but, with many
non-standard currencies being potentially volatile, that was considered acceptable.
Yesterday, Michael Josem – Head of PokerStars PR – went on the 2+2 forum to inform players that
PokerStars has made some changes to currency exchange rates from its former policy of applying the midmarket exchange rate from XE.com and said that the former exchange rate policy (above)
is simply not one you would have had from any financial institution or processor. He continued:
The policy change to introduce a margin on these currencies (CAD, AU$, €uro, £GBP) does move us more in line with the market, but we´re very confident that the new rate applied to your selected currency is still going to be extremely competitive. In fact, we´d say that it´s better than that offered by most banks, card issuers and payment providers.
You can read the full announcement of PokerStars´ foreign exchange margin on the 2+2 forum, but nowhere in the announcement does it say how much of a margin is being applied to deposits and withdrawals involving a currency exchange transaction. Several contributors to the forum who have multiple currency accounts with PokerStars attempted withdrawals in a foreign currency and calculated that the margin was around 2.5% – a charge of $25.00 for each $1,000 deposited or withdrawn.
Outraged Reactions and Suggested Solutions
The reaction to the announcement was pretty vociferous, with many players complaining that the change in policy will hurt those who produce the highest volume from the site at a time when the value of VIP Rewards has been reduced and the traffic on the cash tables is falling due the introduction of distractions such as “Spin n Go” and the PokerStars Casino.
The currency exchange margin would appear to have already been applied, with one UK-based contributor – who had to withdraw funds from PokerStars.fr to comply with the new UK Gambling Act – being charged more than €80.00 on a €4,000 withdrawal because his (or her) funding source was in £ sterling.
Various solutions were suggested, such as players changing their funding source to US Dollars to avoid the penalty; but the most popular solution is to create a multiple currency wallet in the PokerStars Cashier (
Add New Currency) which will allow players to conduct currency exchanges between US Dollars and their native currency through the Cashier without attracting the new charge.
PokerStars players who have questions about how the new foreign exchange margin will affect them specifically are invited to contact email@example.com.