02 AugWill Full Tilt Players Get Full Reimbursement?
Tuesday’s announcement that PokerStars has reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice to acquire Full Tilt Poker came as good news to many former players on Full Tilt’s site, who have been waiting since April 15, 2011 to be repaid the money that was left in their accounts with the room when the government shut down the site on what came to be called Black Friday. The demise of Full Tilt, which has among other things been accused of fraud, money laundering, and operating a Ponzi scheme, left many players without much hope of being able to recoup their funds, but Tuesday’s announcement has renewed the optimism of some that the money will eventually be returned.
According to PokerStar’s blog, the company plans to begin returning players’ money within 90 days of the finalization of the deal with the Justice Department. PokerStars anticipates the deal to close next week. Rumors of a PokerStars takeover of Full Tilt have been swirling around the industry for months, with many speculating that PokerStares would collapse Full Tilt into its own operations and shutter the Full Tilt brand. Such rumors appear to be proving false, with NPR reporting that PokerStars intends to re-open Full Tilt to the US market when legislation is passed allowing online poker in the United States.
The Manhattan US Attorney who helped broker the PokerStars, Preet Bharara, deal told the New York Times that the arrangement between PokerStars and the Justice Department would “allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands.”
Forbes.com pointed out that there are many within the Justice Department who are not so keen on the idea of returning gambling winnings to players, quoting a former Full Tilt lawyer, Jeff Ifrah, as saying, “The section that is in charge of the remission fund hasn’t decided that question clearly and that is the next big issue.”
With so many details about the reimbursement plan and schedule remaining unclear at this time, the door has been left open for speculation as to when, if, and just how much of the money will be returned. PokerStars will be forfeiting $547 million to the Justice Department to answer civil suits and to reimburse US players. An additional $114 million will be made available for foreign players to withdraw, according to ABC News.
The Chicago Tribune reported that many companies had considered buying Full Tilt, including game behemoth Zynga, Bwin, in addition to land-based casinos. “For PokerStars, it’s smart business to try to remove a number of the clouds which obviously were preventing them from operating in the U.S.,” said Jon Richmond, chief executive of U.S. Digital Gaming.
Federal laws still prohibit online poker and all forms of online gambling, however a handful of states are considering regulation and Nevada has already cleared the way for regulated online gambling, having passed a law allowing for online poker rooms to operate within the state. Delaware is also in the process of legalizing online poker. For now, very few rooms remain open to US players, among them Bovada Poker. This Americas Cardroom Review is a good place to start for US players seeking more information about where their deposits can be accepted.