Wendeen Eolis, WSOP Players Advisory Council member and online poker journalist, broke the news of a settlement deal being finalized between PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, and the Department of Justice (DoJ).
In Eolis’ latest poker article published on Poker Player Newspaper, she speaks about the fate of members of Full Tilt Poker’s board of directors. The poker gaming community, especially Full Tilt Poker players who could no longer access their online poker funds after the crackdown, considered these directors as the villains of the Full Tilt Poker saga. But for their ineffective management of the online poker room’s accounts, Full Tilt Poker would never have gone under.
Eolis’ article speaks in particular about Rafe Furst, Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer, and Chris Ferguson. Bitar, who recently surrendered before the DoJ, is now in California under house arrest, but the other members of the board of directors appear to have had it easy. Unlike Bitar, their assets have not been seized.
Eolis says, “According to lawyers familiar with the DOJ’s seizures, Lederer’s, Ferguson’s, and Furst’s current worries with the Government in this matter are probably limited to the DOJ’s efforts to impose substantial financial penalties to settle the individual civil charges against them. These same commentators express confidence that Lederer, Ferguson and Furst will avoid more serious consequences from these matters.”
Meanwhile, friends of Howard Lederer have defended him saying that he had a minimal role to play in the Full Tilt Poker saga, adding that he was not involved in the daily management of Full Tilt Poker. He had backed out several years back and got active in the board only after the federal government crackdown because he wanted Full Tilt Poker players to get a refund. They also say that Howard Lederer paid off a major chunk of his Full Tilt Poker loan when talks were being held with Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT), a French investment company, for the acquisition of Full Tilt Poker. In spite of this, Eolis comments, “Nobody, however, suggests that Lederer offered up any of his distributions to go back to FTP customers to repay their losses.”
Eolis also points out that both Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson are trying to portray themselves as unfairly treated and to rebuild their reputation in the online poker community. Although the poker community has forgiven many such players in the past, it might not be that willing to forgive Ferguson and Lederer, opines Eolis.