First off, I want to say that there are no “safe” poker sites. Even Stars and Tilt were never safe as we’ve just seen in the past week. So asking about whether some small skin on a poker network is safe is somewhat pointless. All you can do is look at the risk and decide what your level of risk tolerance is.
Also, please understand that while the DOJ charged Cereus, Full Tilt, and PokerStars with UIGEA violations what prompted such harsh action was the fact that all three are also charged with bank fraud and money laundering. What this means is that the US probably would not have acted against them just on the UIGEA violations alone and that other online poker sites are at a risk that is commensurate with their willingness to mistag banking transactions and use shady payment processing practices.
It’s nearly impossible to give a rundown on all of the skins on all of the networks and tell you which ones are using shady processing. It’s even more difficult (even more than impossible) to know which ones (if any) are miscoding banking transactions. They’re not going to tell you even if they were.
However, many of the skins still open to US players simply could not survive without the US market. That makes them inherently riskier than a poker room that has a reputation to uphold. Stars and Tilt have been very quick to try to get funds back to players because they have a reputation to protect outside of the US market. A poker skin that is doing 90% of its business in the US is more likely to just close up shop and disappear with whatever is left in their bank accounts if the DOJ shuts them down in the US market.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the more popular a room becomes the harder it is going to be for them to process payments since they can no longer fly under the radar. But at the same time the larger the room the safer they probably are as smaller rooms are less likely to adhere to all of the rules about player fund segregation and such.
@Marawapokerclub asked me on Twitter about jurisdictional issues. All of these sites are breaking US laws. It doesn’t matter what jurisdiction they’re in. Full Tilt is in Dublin, PokerStars is in the Isle of Man, and Cereus is in Costa Rica. Obviously jurisdiction of operations has zero bearing on whether the US comes after someone.
In my own personal assessment, the risk outweighs the rewards for most players. If you do choose to continue playing and playing on a site that continues to offer gaming to US customers I would recommend sticking with sites like Carbon or Cake and making sure you never have more than you absolutely need to have on the site. Cash out early and often.
If you do decide to play, please consider signing up via one of my rakeback links and get rakeback on your play.