UPDATE July 31, 2012: As we published yesterday, now it’s officially 100% a done deal. Main details:
- PokerStars now owns Full Tilt Poker
- FTP software to relaunch within 90 days, employees still headquartered in Ireland, licensed by the Isle of Man
- Non-U.S. player accounts will be reinstated with their full balances and withdrawals allowed
- U.S. players must petition the DOJ for their money ($150 million has been allocated for this – so start petitioning!)
- Lederer and Ferguson (along with Isai Scheinberg) won’t ever be allowed to be employed by PokerStars
- PokerStars will be allowed to operate in the U.S. market once it re-opens for business, and doesn’t have to admit to any wrongdoing
- PartyPoker and the rest of the industry players who left the U.S. in 2006 must be kicking themselves or throwing up
Yesterday’s story is below
An official announcement will be made imminently by the Department of Justice stating that its negotiations with PokerStars regarding Full Tilt Poker have finally been concluded, and that players will be credited in full. Poker Player newspaper’s Wendeen Eolis, a former senior adviser to NY Mayor Giuliani and NY Governor Pataki (and the first woman to cash at the WSOP Main Event back in 1986), is credited with breaking the official story.
Another tidbit to emerge from Eolis’ Twitter feed is that the (same exact) Full Tilt Poker software will likely be up and running by November. Thus, “getting paid” will in all likelihood actually mean that players’ money will once again be accessible to them (let’s hope you all remember your passwords!). Certainly, it would stand to reason that if any player would ask for a cashout, it would be duly processed immediately. With PokerStars at the helm, there wouldn’t seem to be a reason to worry about that anymore.
In all likelihood, the official DOJ announcement will be made by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who notably called Full Tilt Poker a “Ponzi scheme” last year when leveling accusations against its founders and executive board of directors.
My, How Far We’ve Come!
Here’s a brief timeline of some events relating to this story that we’ve covered over the last 16+ months
- April– June 2011: Though Full Tilt Poker was downed by the DOJ in the United States on Black Friday (April 15, 2011) it kept operating around the rest of the world until late June of last year.
- July 2011: Just over a year ago, Paddy Power was actually taking bets on whether Full Tilt Poker would go back online.
- September 2011: Canadians file a class action lawsuit against Full Tilt Poker (they can probably drop their claim now).
- November 2011: We reported that The Bernard Tapie Group had agreed to buy Full Tilt Poker and repay unpaid players. That deal fell through.
- February 2012: Daniel Negreanu and Doyle Brunson made their feelings on the matter quite public, specifically with regard to what should be done to Ferguson and Lederer.
- June–July 2012: Former Full Tilt Poker head honcho Ray Bitar turned himself in to authorities and was subsequently released on bail. Meanwhile, payment processor Ira Rubin was ordered to forfeit $5 million and was sentenced to three years in prison.
The Former Faces of Full Tilt Poker
Many of the professional poker players who used to represent Full Tilt Poker emerged from the scandal with reputations unscathed. These include Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, Tom Dwan, Erik Seidel, among others.
On the other hand, the whereabouts of Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer remain a mystery, and nobody’s seen either of them playing poker anywhere around the world since Black Friday.
Issues that remain unanswered at the moment include:
- the precise payback date
- if and how taxes will be paid by U.S. players
- what this means regarding PokerStars entering the U.S. market upon official legalization of online poker
At this point all that’s really left for us to do is sit back and start making plans for what we’re going to do with our Full Tilt Poker money. Many online poker players moved abroad to keep playing. With legal U.S. poker on the horizon, and Full Tilt Poker money, once thought lost, finally on the way back, perhaps it’s time for those players to begin making plans to return stateside.