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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.