What a PokerStars Full Tilt deal could mean for you

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Apr 24, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

PokerStars versus Full TiltTuesday April 23rd, 2012 will likely soon have its own catchy name if the rumors circulating throughout the poker world are correct, and Full Tilt Poker is being bought by PokerStars. According to the earliest report which appeared on 2+2 Tuesday morning (by an anonymous first-time poster):

PokerStars has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to buy FTP. The things I heard:

* All players will be refunded 100%

* Both sites back online

* Both sites have promotions

* Employees remain in both places

Expect more news today.

Later reports pointed to the deal between Full Tilt Poker and Groupe Bernard Tapie falling through (which was later confirmed in a press release issued by GBT ), and numerous people coming forward saying the PokerStars/Full Tilt rumors were true; something that was even mentioned in the GBT Press Release:

“We understand from press reports that the DOJ may have entered into an agreement with PokerStars pursuant to which PokerStars will acquire the FTP assets.?If accurate, we can only assume that PokerStars determined that it was willing to accept these legal and financial risks in order to resolve its own legal situation with DOJ.”

While it’s mainly speculation at this point it appears the two companies will remain separate entities. It’s unclear what will become of the licensing hearing by the AGCC for the Full Tilt subsidy Orinic, and the other recent developments that took place during the Full Tilt poker Groupe Bernard Tapie talks.

It’s also unclear just how fast Full Tilt poker could be re-opened? A week, three weeks, three months, three hours? It’s really anyone’s guess at this point.

But as the poker world does a collective high-five, and players use up whatever “one-time” they have remaining, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered. You can find some of the other sources in this ongoing story at the end of this article.

Why would Stars pay $750 Million?

There are several really good reasons for this:

1. They buy their largest pre-Black Friday Competitor which was also the #1 alternative to their software.

2. They cut a deal with the DOJ which if similar to the Party Poker deal from 2008 would mean that all charges would be dropped along with a non-prosecution agreement: Which means they would be free to partner with a land-based casino in Nevada and re-enter the US market.

Point #2 is obviously the most important, as this would give PokerStars every incentive in the world to buy Full Tilt Poker and settle with the DOJ. Some 2+2 posters have hinted at even more news to come, which may turn out to be that PokerStars has entered into a partnership with a land-based casino in the US to offer online poker. This would also set the stage for both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars to return to the US market should the game be legalized on the federal level –depending on the agreement they reached with the DOJ of course.

What happens to the indicted individuals at PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker?

If the rumors are true it’s likely that anyone indicted on Black Friday at PokerStars like Isai Scheinberg will be off the hook with the feds. What will become of the Full Tilt indictments, including Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer, and Chris Ferguson, is another matter entirely, as I doubt PokerStars had any interest in negotiating for the dismissal of their indictments.

A similar situation took place when the DOJ indicted Party Poker and Party Poker founder Anaraug Dikshit. Dikshit gave the US government $300 million in a settlement deal, while Party Poker handed over an undisclosed amount in order to receive a non-prosecution agreement. It’s quite likely that PokerStars has done the same thing here, and at the same time taken Full Tilt Poker off of the DOJ’s hands.

How soon will US players be repaid, and will FPP’s be converted?

Based on the Groupe Bernard Tapie statement that the DOJ wanted full repayment in 90 days this seems to be the maximum timeframe for repayment, far more likely is that PokerStars will have most player funds’ returned in a matter of weeks from the finalization of the sale.

As for FPP’s, the $330 million number being kicked around as “player balances” is a bit higher than previous reports (which had the number around $300 million). This could signify that the excess money is from the conversion of FPP’s into cash for US players.

What happens to the poker world from here?

With an infusion of over $300 million into the poker economy just before the WSOP it’s anybody’s guess how many players will show up for the tournament series. Tournaments around the globe have suffered from the missing money, and a lot of the high-stakes cash-game action has withered on the vine as well. This infusion could be just what the doctor ordered to get the poker economy jumpstarted, and with legislative efforts underway in the US, we could very well be looking at a second poker boom –although it will undoubtedly be on a smaller scale than in 2003/2004.


“Pokerstars buys FullTilt for a consideration of $750m, including settlement with DOJ and full balances of players (330m). I’m impressed.” : Alexandre Dreyfus CEO of Chilipoker

Mike Haven on 2+2: I can’t confirm that this is true, because of NDA reasons, but I can say that a welcomed press release may follow in the near future.


Groupe Bernard Tapie press release: http://www.gaming-awards.com/NEWS/archives/8374

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