There is good news in the holiday season for thousands of players whose accounts on Full Tilt Poker remain frozen.
The complicated deal which the European investor Groupe Bernard Tapie is negotiating with the Department of Justice (DoJ) is reportedly on track and making faster progress than expected. This could mean a speedy resolution to the woes of the online poker enthusiasts whose accounts are in limbo since the DoJ seized FTP’s domain names and associated assets on Black Friday, April 15 2011.
In a swift and unexpected move on that fateful day, the DoJ shut down three of the largest online poker sites and seized their assets including bank accounts associated with the domain names. In the process, thousands of poker players registered at the Full Tilt Poker site and who had money owed to them found out that they could not access the money in their player accounts. It is estimated that about $150 million of players’ money is thus blocked.
According to the rather convoluted deal, the Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT), will pay the DoJ about $80 million for the company. The current owners of the company have to first forfeit the company and its assets to the DoJ. The DoJ will then transfer these assets to the GBT. In the process, the DoJ has taken the responsibility of reimbursing players from the US who are still owed money by the erstwhile FTP. The GBT shall reportedly assume responsibility for paying non-US players who still have money owed to them by FTP.
For US players this might not be a simple case of having an account credited nor even receiving a check in the post from the DoJ. They would first have to file a claim with the government authorities. They would additionally have to provide proof of the source of the income from which they made deposits in the site. They might also need to provide the records of all the deposits and withdrawals that they made at the FTP site and most importantly provide proof that they have complied with federal income tax laws.
If ever the FTP is to find its feet back in the US online poker market again – albeit in a GBT sponsored avatar – it would first have to re-establish its credibility as a site that’s good for its credit. In order to do this, the GBT would have to work closely with the government authorities to ensure that all genuine player-creditors of FTP are paid back the monies owed to them.
In a future where online poker is legalized in the USA, the deal with the Department of Justice specifically allows the Groupe Bernard Tapie to re-enter the US market under the Full Tilt Poker banner. The GBT obviously believes that the deal is worth the $80 million that it is bringing to the table on this play.