It’s been a couple days now since the Department of Justice brought to light the details of alleged Ponzi scheme carried out by Full Tilt Poker. Now that the shock has subsided somewhat and the dust has begun to settle, this poker blogger feels it’s important to point out that Full Tilt’s actions did not exactly reflect a Ponzi scheme per se, but rather a completely misguided, unethical scheme to divert player monies to top-level company officials in the form of cash payouts and bonuses. The bottom line is that someone in the organization made a decision to commingle player funds and operational cash flow (which was surprisingly allowed under the terms of Full Tilt Poker’s gaming license).
Full Tilt Owners and Poker Pros React
While Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson haven’t made any public statements in reaction to the recent news (I imagine they’re either “hiding” abroad or trying to escape the country before the DOJ issues an arrest warrant for them), Rafe Furst, another Full Tilt Poker co-owner and board member, has issued an open letter. We’ll let you come to your own conclusions about what he had to say.
Notably, word still has yet to be heard from Phil Ivey, who has essentially fallen off the grid ever since his lawsuit against Full Tilt Poker was dropped over the summer. Ivey, arguably considered the best poker player in the world today, has been confirmed as owning a piece of Full Tilt Poker.
Tom Dwan, on the other hand, should be fully commended for finally speaking openly about the situation. Until now, he was forced to remain silent due to the terms of a non-disclosure agreement he had signed as a Full Tilt sponsored pro. With so much of what he knew finally revealed to the public by the DOJ, over the last couple days Dwan has given numerous detailed interviews to outlets like PokerNews, Fox News, and ESPN. They pretty much speak for themselves. Dwan has stated on numerous occasions since Black Friday that he will give back all monies received from Full Tilt via his sponsorship agreement (totaling in excess of $1 million). Our only question is to whom this money would actually be given…
The Silver Lining
On the one hand, the brouhaha surrounding Full Tilt Poker has clearly cast a shadow over the entire poker industry as a whole. Fortunately, the one positive to come out of this mess is that more and more leaders and public officials are coming out publicly in favor of regulated, legalized online poker in the United States. Here’s a sampling of some reactions that U.S. legislators will hopefully take notice of:
- Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former FBI Director Louis Freeh have joined the board of FairPlayUSA.
- Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., President & CEO of the American Gaming Association, came out with a statement that “Congress needs to establish federal guidelines so that states that choose to can regulate and license online poker, and bring the jobs and revenues associated with this billion dollar industry to the U.S.”
- John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), said that “This is a sad and disappointing day for American poker players… These new government allegations underscore the sincere need for Congress to act immediately to pass legislation that appropriately regulates Internet poker in the U.S. so that players can be protected…”
We here at the Cardplayer Lifestyle poker blog empathize deeply with online poker players, employees, and affiliates who fell victim to the poorly-run operations at Full Tilt Poker. We can only hope that a new page will be turned soon.
UPDATE: September 24th – DOJ Issues Warrants to Seize Lederer and Ferguson’s Bank Accounts.