A closer look at the PokerStars Full Tilt poker deal

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jul 31, 2012 Posted in Poker Industry News | No Comments »

PokerStars versus Full TiltNow that the poker community has breathed a deep sigh of relief, thanks to today’s announcement that PokerStars has officially taken control of Full Tilt poker from the US Department of Justice and ALL players will in fact be repaid, I’ve decided to take a deeper look at what the deal means for US and Rest of World players, as well as for the future of the two companies and the online poker industry in general.

Today’s announcement by poker blogger DiamondFlush came after the US Attorney’s Office agreed to the deal brokered between the Department of Justice, PokerStars, and Full Tilt Poker, which will see the civil forfeiture and money laundering claims filed against Full Tilt Poker dismissed with prejudice, BUT individuals named were not dismissed (Howard Lederer, Rafe Furst, Chris Ferguson, Ray Bitar, and Nelson Burtnick will still face civil and criminal charges).

PokerStars also saw civil forfeiture and money laundering claims dismissed, but as with Full Tilt Poker principles, individual charges have not been dismissed as part of this agreement according to DiamondFlush. In a press release, PokerStars gave the exact figures of the deal they have worked out with the US government, which includes a $547 million settlement and the repayment of some $184 million to affected Full Tilt Players outside of the US (according to DiamondFlush PokerStars will also make good on all FTP’s and other assets in players’ accounts).

The $547 million is payable over a three-years period, while the $184 million set aside in a separate account for Full Tilt player balances will be made ready within 90 days according to the press release by PokerStars.

The press release also states that PokerStars will be allowed to apply for US licenses under both the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands.

The final piece of the puzzle revealed in the press released was that PokerStars plans to relaunch Full Tilt Poker “following the appointment of a new, independent management team. Full Tilt Poker’s operations will continue to be run from Dublin, but regulatory oversight will be transferred to the Isle of Man. Further details of these plans will be announced shortly.”

Diamond Flush posted the following tidbits regarding the deal that have yet to be corroborated:

• US players will have to “file a petition for remission with the US DOJ”

• Isai Scheinberg must step down from PokerStars within 45 days

UPDATE: The US DOJ issued a press release detailing the $731 million settlement: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/july12/pokersettlement.html

Join the conversation and discuss today’s news at http://www.pokerforums.org/poker-news-opinions-rumors/38923-pokerstars-buys-full-tilt.html#post295818

Here is the Press Release from PokerStars:



ONCHAN, ISLE OF MAN – July 31, 2012 – PokerStars today announced that the Company has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Southern District of New York. As part of the settlement agreement, PokerStars has also acquired the assets of Full Tilt Poker, and has committed to the full reimbursement of Full Tilt Poker customers outside the United States.

The total amount to be paid by PokerStars is USD$547 million which will be payable over a period of three years. The money paid to the US Government will in part be used to reimburse former Full Tilt Poker customers in the United States, through a remission process to be administered by the Department of Justice. PokerStars repaid all amounts owing to its own U.S. customers shortly after it closed its U.S. operations.

PokerStars will also make available in a segregated bank account, all outstanding balances owing to all non-U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker (an amount totalling USD$184 million), with no restrictions on withdrawals, within 90 days of completing this transaction. PokerStars has remained open for non-U.S. players, with all its licenses in good standing, without interruptions.

Under the agreement with the Department of Justice, PokerStars does not admit to any wrongdoing. Furthermore, the agreement explicitly permits PokerStars to apply to relevant U.S. gaming authorities, under both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands, to offer real money online poker when State or Federal governments introduce a framework to regulate such activity.

PokerStars plans to re-launch Full Tilt Poker in most markets as a separate brand, following the appointment of a new, independent management team. Full Tilt Poker’s operations will continue to be run from Dublin, but regulatory oversight will be transferred to the Isle of Man. Further details of these plans will be announced shortly.

“We are delighted we have been able to put this matter behind us, and also secured our ability to operate in the United States of America whenever the regulations allow,” said Mark Scheinberg, Chairman of the Board of PokerStars. “This outcome demonstrates our continuing global leadership of the online poker industry, and our commitment to working with governments and regulators to ensure the highest standards of protection for players.”

“Acquiring certain assets of Full Tilt Poker strengthens PokerStars, brings welcome relief to Full Tilt Poker players who have been waiting over 12 months for repayment of their money, and benefits the entire poker community. Full Tilt Poker’s customers outside the U.S. can soon look forward to accessing their accounts and playing on the re-launched site, confident that they are supported by PokerStars’ history of integrity and our track record of delivering high-quality and secure online poker.”

“The way we have operated our business since the U.S. Department of Justice brought its claim has underlined our credentials as a responsible online poker operator,” Scheinberg continued. “In particular, the prompt repayment of our former US customers in as quick a time frame as possible demonstrated our industry-leading commitment to the segregation of customer funds. We continue to encourage jurisdictions all over the world to introduce sensible online poker regulation.”

And here is the press release from Full Tilt Poker:


Agreement Ends Civil Forfeiture Proceedings and Includes Payment For All Players

Dublin – July 31, 2012 – Full Tilt Poker is very pleased to announce the conclusion of a three-way transaction with PokerStars and the United States Department of Justice which will result in all of FTP’s US players having the opportunity to be paid. The agreement ends the company’s civil forfeiture proceedings with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Under the terms of the agreement, PokerStars will pay a substantial amount of money to the United States, and the government has agreed that all U.S. players will have an opportunity to request that they be compensated out of those funds for their losses. In addition, within ninety days PokerStars will make available for immediate cash withdrawal or play, the account balances for all of Full Tilt Poker’s non-U.S. players.

Full Tilt Poker apologizes to all of its customers who endured a long and difficult period wondering whether this day would ever come.

Full Tilt Poker expresses its appreciation to its loyal employees whose hard work over the last 15 months preserved the value of the Full Tilt Poker assets so a deal like this could be possible, and to PokerStars and the United States Department of Justice for their efforts in bringing about this resolution.

Jeff Ifrah of Ifrah Law PLLC, (Washington, D.C.) Barry Boss and Anne Madonia of Cozen O’Connor (Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, PA respectively), Tony Coles and Charles Gerada of Jeffrey Green Russell Solicitors (London), and Tony O’Grady of Matheson Ormsby Prentice (Dublin) represented the affiliated companies that owned and operated Full Tilt .

Join the conversation and discuss today’s news at http://www.pokerforums.org/poker-news-opinions-rumors/38923-pokerstars-buys-full-tilt.html#post295818

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