Full Tilt and PokerStars reach agreement with US Gov
Can you hear the collective sigh of relief coming from card-rooms and home office “balla setups” around the United States? It was announced today that both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have reached an agreement with the US Attorney Office for the Southern District of New York that marks an important first step in seeing US players funds that are currently seized returned to them.
The agreement calls for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to no longer offer real money poker games in the US market, and in exchange both sites will have their .com domain names returned to them. Obviously there is still a long way to go before the entire case is settled, but today’s revelations shows a willingness from both sides to reach a compromise to move the case along, and make right by the affected players.
In a press release on www.justice.gov, US Attorney Preet Bharara stated the terms of the agreement as well as dropping the implication that at this time Absolute Poker was unwilling to reach the same agreement:
“No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player’s deposited funds. In fact, this Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate.
Under the terms of the agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the companies agreed that they would not allow for, facilitate, or provide the ability for players located in the United States to engage in playing online poker for “real money” or any other thing of value… The Government stands to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker if it so chooses.”
In their own statement Full Tilt Poker made it clear that players’ deposits are a top priority, although they left the door open as to precisely when players in the US may see their money returned:
“Full Tilt Poker™ is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to regain the use of its worldwide domain name, www.fulltiltpoker.com.
“Although players in the United States will not be permitted to engage in real-money play, the agreement expressly allows for real-money play outside of the United States.
“In addition, the agreement represents an important first step towards returning funds to U.S. players because it allows Full Tilt Poker to utilize its domain to facilitate the withdrawal of player funds. But, unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future. As a result of the recent enforcement action, there exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds; Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government; and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players.
“Finally, there are numerous legal and jurisdictional issues that must be considered before poker winnings can be paid out to players throughout the United States. While Full Tilt Poker continues to believe that online poker is not illegal under federal law or in 49 states, the indictment and civil forfeiture action filed last Friday require Full Tilt Poker to proceed with caution in this area.
“Notwithstanding these issues, Full Tilt Poker is ready to work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to try and resolve these issues and to get players their money back as soon as possible.”
Tags: Absolute Poker, Attorney Office, Balla, Collective Sigh, Compromise, Domain Names, Full tilt Poker, Implication, Money Poker, Poker Games, PokerStars, Preet Bharara, Press Release, Real Money, Revelations, Sigh Of Relief, Southern District Of New York, Top Priority, Willingness
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