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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It is old news, but if you were an affiliate of the old Full Tilt Poker you are screwed.

In this October 2012 article by Pokerfuse they detail the situation with affiliates and the old Full Tilt.  Essentially the situation is:

Payments owed to Full Tilt Poker affiliates will not be paid, and player accounts will not tracked to old affiliates when the website comes back online next month, pokerfuse has learned.

In addition, players who were also affiliates will not be reimbursed for any money in their Full Tilt account that came from affiliate payments.

It’s bad enough that they aren’t honoring money already owed to affiliates which was just as much an obligation of the Full Tilt company as player balances, but they have also set it up to remove any affiliate money owed from players who were affiliates but where part of the money in their account came from affiliate income.

So, let’s say an affiliate was paid for advertising (affiliate income) 6 months before Full Tilt went under, but they still had that money in their poker account.  Whoops it’s gone!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Poker’s “Super Tuesday”? Are you kidding me PPA?

Yesterday, Tuesday July 31, 2012, it was formally announced that PokerStars was acquiring Full Tilt’s assets from the Department of Justice and that all players (both US and Non-US) would be paid back any money they were owed.

Granted this is good news, however…

Non-US Players will be paid back within 90 days by PokerStars and in full, but US Players will have to apply for re-payment to the US Department of Justice.

To the Poker Players Alliance, via this announcement released 2012-08-01, this is a cause for dancing in the streets:

Weekly Update from Rich Muny, VP of Player Relations

Yesterday, PPA sent out a member-wide announcement with terrific news -- the Justice Department approved the deal for PokerStars to purchase Full Tilt Poker!
From the Department of Justice press release:

Under the terms of the settlement with PokerStars, the company agreed to forfeit $547 million to the U.S. and to reimburse the approximately $184 million owed by Full Tilt to foreign players, in order to fully resolve the allegations in the complaint. The settlement further provides that PokerStars will acquire the Forfeited Full Tilt Assets from the Government. Full Tilt’s U.S. fraud victims will be able to seek compensation for their losses from the Department of Justice from the $547 million forfeited by PokerStars.

In other words, PokerStars has provided funds to cover all player balances at Full Tilt Poker and the DoJ is establishing a process by which we U.S. players can request and receive our money. While PPA does not yet have the detailed information on the specific process to follow, we are calling for a streamlined process and repayment of 100% of player account balances.

To aid in all of this, PPA will gather the needed information on the reimbursement process in real time and post it to http://theppa.org/repayment. I will be using the PPA guide to apply for my reimbursement and am looking forward to trialling the process for all of us. We have all been in this together from the get go, so I am personally pleased that we will be in it together as we finally recover our funds and press on for victory in the fight for licensed and regulated online poker.

PPA's legal team will remain fully involved as the ‘voice of the player’ to ensure we are all heard throughout this process.

For more information:
Poker Players Alliance Press Release
Department of Justice Press Release
PokerStars Press Release
PokerStars’ FTP FAQ

On that last part, the fraud or Ponzi scheme allegations were all after Black Friday and have to do with Full Tilt not revealing their financial situation to people who continued to play and deposit money on the site or in other words Non-US players.  The fact that they didn’t segregate player funds was bad business and a bad idea but wasn’t fraud.

My outrage continues to fall squarely on the shoulders over the Department of Justice itself.  The logic train that allowed them to even go after the online poker rooms is amazing and frightening—does anyone think the DoJ was somehow protecting the US population from “bank fraud” and the like?  Because after Black Friday they then rescinded their stance on using the wire fraud act which was their main weapon to insist that online poker was, itself, illegal gambling and the “bank fraud” did not harm any banks!  How this continues to this date with people caving to what is essentially government level extortion amazes me.

Well Hurray!  Super Tuesday!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Full Tilt Officially Sold to the Groupe Bernard Tapie for 80 Million: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

The on-the-surface good news is that the sale of Full Tilt Poker has been finalized and all players will (when is still unclear) be receiving the money from their player accounts.  The new agreement with the US Department of Justice prevents existing directors to hold shares in the new company, and GBT will have to relicense Full Tilt to start doing business again although that should be a very minor hurdle.

The frightening news for US players is the way the deal is structured.

What GBT and Full Tilt have done is essentially forfeited all assets of Full Tilt Poker to the US DOJ and then the DOJ is in turn selling Full Tilt back to GBT for 80M.  The player balances will be paid back by Groupe Bernard Tapie if they are outside of the US and will be paid back by the DOJ if they are inside the US.

Why is this scary?  Let me count the ways:

  1. Most significantly the US DOJ not only has a complete accounting of your player income from Full Tilt now but they will be cutting you a check.  If you are in the US, and are owed a lot of money, this may send a shiver up your spine when you consider the tax and legal ramifications. 

    You might as well consider that you are receiving a 1099 for the amount of your check when you receive it and good luck convincing the IRS that you lost a similar amount on the site earlier to offset those winnings.
  2. What standing does the DOJ have to receive forfeited property and then resell it without public access or review?  In other words if the DOJ confiscates a yacht it would normally be sold at a public auction and not to one specific buyer.  A non public process like the one that took place invites corruption in the DOJ.
  3. When last checked some player balances were not restored to their correct amounts.  It may be difficult or impossible to fix these issues when the DoJ is in control of the disbursements.

Since the deal was just announced hopefully there will be some clarification on these and other issues, but for now it might not be the time to get out the party hats.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

PPA Encourages You to Become a Lying Whore…

Today the Poker Player’s Alliance sent out an email suggesting that people who are owed money from Full Tilt Poker may be able to get compensation from the government if the allegations that Full Tilt was a “global Ponzi scheme” (hint it wasn’t—it was a badly run company).  By portraying themselves as “victims of a crime” players can potentially get some portion of their lost money back.

The Department of Justice is portraying it as if all offshore gambling is corrupt and that Full Tilt was stealing our money, but the fact is that they were the 2nd most reputable (ok 2nd was a ways down the totem but still) online poker company in terms of making sure people got paid, etc.  The one two punch here was the pressure of the UIGEA on the payment processors which caused them to float a bunch of invisible loans to plays to the tune of ???  100 million?  more? and then the seizure of a huge portion of their business funds while cutting off the US player population which they were much more dependent on than PokerStars.  I'm not holding Full Tilt faultless here, but I AM saying the DoJ literally caused this to happen.

So if we’re a victim of a crime the criminal is the US DoJ.

Text of the PPA Letter:

This week’s news from the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that Full Tilt Poker perpetrated a “global Ponzi scheme” that defrauded players has sent shockwaves through the poker community.  If true, these allegations detail a massive betrayal of player trust and will cause further hardship for the individual poker player, none of whom have been accused of doing anything wrong.  Based on the DOJ allegations, it is clear that the players who deposited money and played on Full Tilt Poker are truly the victims in all of this mess. 

The PPA believes that fundamental justice requires that players be repaid their money on deposit, and so we wanted to mention an avenue by which players can ask the DOJ to return funds to them through restitution in the pending case.  A federal statute establishes a number of rights for victims of crimes and requires that the government take steps to assist these victims. The DOJ put in place a set of guidelines and created a program, Victims and Witness Services, so that the government could live up to its statutory obligations to victims of crimes. Again, based on the allegations set forth by the DOJ, poker players who deposited money with Full Tilt Poker should be treated as crime victims and afforded the full rights and protections of our government.

If you have been unable to withdraw your money from Full Tilt Poker, you may wish to contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator at the U.S. Attorney’s office and ask that you be afforded the rights of a crime victim as outlined on their website. Let them know that you would like to be kept informed of any major developments in the case (United States v. Full Tilt, et al., 11 C 2564 and United States v. Scheinberg, et al., 10 CR 336) and that you are seeking restitution of lost funds.  

You can send your letter or email to:

Wendy Olsen Clancy
Victim/Witness Coordinator
United States Attorney's Office
One St. Andrew's Plaza
New York, New York 10007
(866) 874-8900
Wendy.Olsen@usdoj.gov

The PPA will provide you with information as this situation continues to develop.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DoJ Alleges that Full Tilt was “Global Ponzi Scheme”

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the situation at Full Tilt Poker is far worse than expected:

On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department in a civil suit accused Messrs. Lederer, Ferguson and Furst, and another director of the company behind the Full Tilt Poker website, of defrauding thousands of online poker players out of more than $300 million that is still owed to them. The government said that, in total, the 23 owners of the site had taken out $444 million in distributions over the years.

The Justice Department's civil suit against Full Tilt alleges that in 2010, Full Tilt began having trouble accepting new bets from players, thanks to U.S. efforts to crack down on payment-processing services for online gambling. But the U.S. says that Full Tilt's owners kept paying themselves millions of dollars anyway, fraudulently depleting the player funds on deposit with the company.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Goodbye Cruel World (or at least USA)

Bodog decides it’s going to call it quits in the USA at the end of the year.

The Department of Justice (which by the way is kind of like calling a 7 foot man “shorty”) has claimed another indirect victim as Bodog decides to opt out of the US market when its new gaming license in the UK starts.

Bodog said: “Following recent news that Bodog UK has been granted a gambling license by the UK Gambling Commission, we are pleased to announce further developments to the Bodog brand going forward.”

After December 31st current US players at Bodog will have the option of switching to another cardroom run by Morris Mohawk Gaming.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

PPA Legal Eagles Crack the Code for US Poker Players with Unpaid Funds… Bottom Line? You’re Screwed!

No seriously, you are screwed.

lawyer_simpsonsThe newest non-news going around is the Poker Player’s Alliance new Player’s Fund Legal Guide which supposedly informs the group they call (and this is a direct quote) “individual players who have not been able to access their online poker funds held on account” or in short “everyone that didn’t have their money on PokerStars.”

In this “legal guide” they basically tell the US poker player that, while technically they do have a right to the money they have on deposit, it is going to be really, really hard to get that money since 1. Lawyers are expensive, 2. Tracking down people in foreign lands is hard and 3. You are obviously not on a lucky streak having had your money grabbed in the first place.

No, seriously that’s what they say.  Here’s the summary (another direct quote):

SUMMARY: Players, especially players owed substantial sums, should definitely speak with their own lawyer about whether it is in their interest to file a lawsuit either individually or as a self-defined group of similarly situated players. They must balance the costs and risks against the benefit of having an actual judgment to enforce in a foreign court or a foreign bankruptcy proceeding.

- PPA Player’s Fund Legal Guide

Let me crystalize this even more:  The PPA spent WEEKS coming to the conclusion that the tiny group of poker players who have GIANT balances and that means MILLIONS on account should TALK TO THEIR LAWYERS about maybe trying to get it back.  Guess what PPA?  They already did.  Because they have millions of dollars.  And a lawyer.

As far as the rest of the suckers (including myself) that have a balance in the hundreds or thousands of dollars—well we are at the mercy of whatever ultimately happens with the various online poker rooms and we didn’t need the PPA to tell us that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scott Matusow Predicts Full Tilt Will Return… To the US… No, I’m no Drunk, Why Do You Ask?

The Lynchpin will be Jack Binion buying out Ray Bitar’s Stake and getting Bitar out of the company.

From www.scottmatusow.com

As most of you know, FTP had their europe license pretty much suspended until a hearing set for July 26th can clear this issue up. However, Jack Binion has expressed a real interest in coming in and buying out Ray Bitar’s shares of FTP. The Gaming license has been primarily suspended because of Ray’s pending indictment. Take note as well, Ivey has withdrawn his statement from his website concerning his pending lawsuit against FTP. I have heard Jack wants to bring FTP back to The USA market, and if he steps in, that will happen once the pending regulation legislation is passed in Congress.
Sources tell me that it will pass, and as well, the bills will be amended to allow credit card deposits. This equates to FTP paying all of The USA customers and entering back into the USA Market. Remember, the indictments are not against FTP, but against Ray and the other guy there (forget his name atm). Once they are gone, FTP is “clean”. There is more I cannot say at this time. I would like to, but know this; You all will get paid, and Jack Binion will likey buy the controlling interest of FTP to make this happen.

Holy Crap, Full Tilt Poker Shut Down by Alderney Gaming Commission

holy freakin … magoly

Gambling911 reports that the Alderney Gaming Commission has shut down Full Tilt Poker:  They will now have a hearing about the current situation take additional steps like permanently revoking their gambling license.

What does this mean for all the unpaid US players?  Well for one thing it means they all just peed themselves.

“In the matters of:-
VANTAGE LIMITED OXALIC LIMITED FILCO LIMITED And ORINIC LIMITED
Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has today issued Hearing Notices under Regulation 46 of the Alderney eGambling Regulations, 2009 to the above named companies who collectively trade as FULL TILT POKER.

In addition, AGCC has issued Suspension Notices under Regulation 47 of the Alderney eGambling Regulations, 2009 to the above named companies requiring them to immediately suspend operations.

The above named companies must, until the Suspension Notices are cancelled or the Commissioners of AGCC have reached a determination at the conclusion of the hearing convened in accordance with Regulation 46 of the Alderney eGambling Regulations, 2009 cease to exercise their eGambling licenses, which means that these licensees must from today cease to:-

Register new customers;
Accept deposits from existing customers; 
Allow existing customers to withdraw funds that are held in their accounts; and
Permit customers to participate in any form of poker game play or gambling
transaction.

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission will hear the matters contained in the Hearing Notices at a Regulatory Hearing which will commence at 10.00am on Tuesday 26th July, 2011 at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, 239 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 1EQ. In the event that there is a change to these details this notice will be amended.

André Wilsenach (Executive Director) Alderney Gambling Control Commission Alderney, Channel Islands"