biggest news to hit the online poker world since the events of “Black Friday”
came out in late July. Players at Full Tilt Poker, the world's second-leading
online poker site at the time, have reached a settlement with the US Department
The settlement will allow Full Tilt and PokerStars (the number-one site on Black Friday) to reimburse players for the monies seized by federal prosecutors as part of the money laundering indictments against the sites' owners.
What Are the Settlement
Prosecutors with the US
Attorney's Office in New York have allowed PokerStars to purchase some of Full
Tilt's assets that the government seized over a year ago. In exchange, federal
prosecutors will drop civil forfeiture claims and money laundering charges
against Full Tilt companies, but will retain the option to prosecute
individuals such as former CEO Ray Bitar, as well as former executives and
poker pros Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson for money laundering and fraud
What Happens to Former
Full Tilt Players?
As part of the
settlement, PokerStars agreed to pay $547 million to the DOJ over the next
three years. A portion of this money will go toward paying back Full Tilt
players whose accounts the government seized on Black Friday. Industry
observers estimate that approximately $184 million will go toward paying
players based outside the US, with $150 million going toward US-based players.
Although the individuals involved in running Full Tilt still face civil and
criminal charges, no former Full Tilt players outside of the “inner circle” are
expected to be charged.
When Do non-US Players
A spokesman for
PokerStars announced that former Full Tilt players based outside the US will
begin receiving reimbursements within 90 days of the completion of the asset
transfers. No date has been announced for when those transfers are expected to
be completed. Also, the reimbursement agreement only applies to account
balances. Rewards such as FTP points, satellite entries and other items are not
included, but PokerStars may make arrangements for those reimbursements at a
When Do US Players Get
US-based players must
file a petition for reimbursement through the DOJ's Asset Forfeiture Money
Laundering Service (AFMLS). Jeff Ifrah, an attorney retained by Full Tilt after
Black Friday, told Poker News UK that “as a procedure becomes more clear, more
crystallized, obviously we’re going to try to make sure that players and
customers become aware of it works.”
Will Full Tilt Poker
Yes, but in a limited
fashion. Since online poker is still illegal in the US, neither PokerStars nor
Full Tilt will be available. A PokerStars press release stated that, once a
“new, independent management team” was in place, the company will relaunch Full
Tilt in many markets as a separate brand. However, the new Full Tilt site will
not be available in many European countries, including Spain, Italy, Denmark,
Belgium and France.
Does This Mean that
Online Poker Will Be Legal in the US Again Soon?
Don't count on it.