So much has happened over the last few days with Full Tilt Poker that we thought we’d wait for the dust to settle a little and just bring you a brief summary of events, along with our analysis.
September 29th saw the Alderney Gambling Control Commission fully revoke Full Tilt Poker’s online gambling license, which had been suspended for the previous 3 months. This move, which did not come as a surprise to the greater poker community, essentially closed the book on Full Tilt Poker, but left open the possibility for the company to be rebranded if sold to new owners.
Company Bought Out
Lo and behold, within 24 hours Full Tilt Poker issued a press release declaring that they had been bought out by a French investor, Bernard Tapie. Reportedly, the terms of the sale stipulate that over $300 million would have to be paid out to players with frozen Full Tilt accounts. Moreover, the press release also indicated that the sale was contingent on a resolution of their case with the U.S. Department of Justice.
What Happens Now?
Most people following the Full Tilt saga just have one thing on their minds: “When will I get my money back?” Though this poker blogger doesn’t have a definite answer to that question, I’m reasonably certain of two things:
1) Players will eventually get their money back.
Whether it’s through class action lawsuits, petitioning the White House, or some other method, I just can’t believe that hundreds of millions of dollars can be allowed to have disappeared permanently into the pockets of people like Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson. Perhaps at some point, now that Full Tilt’s license has been revoked, the Department of Justice will realize that letting the sale of the company go through might be in players’ best interests? Should this happen, settling frozen accounts will be the first order of business at whatever the rebranded Full Tilt Poker will end up being called. Either way, I wouldn’t count on players seeing any of that money for at least another year or so.
2) Bernard Tapie is taking a BIG gamble.
The bottom line is that shelling out $300 million before your new company can even get off the ground is a huge risk! The only things left of value at Full Tilt are their software and database of player names. Tapie is going to have to start from scratch and build a totally new, squeaky-clean online poker brand. There’s potential, no doubt, but his new operation will somehow have to convince players to stay – and he sure won’t be able to count on former FTP-sponsored pros for any help, as their names have been irreversibly tarnished. To top it off, he’ll have to act ultra-quick to grab any slice of market share before online poker is legalized in the U.S. If that happens before his new brand can establish itself, Tapie will have a very hard time just trying to break even on his investment.