We at Gambling911.com simply cannot take it any more and apparently neither can much of the rest of the online poker sector.
After months of reporting that a white knight had come to the rescue of Full Tilt Poker players who have been waiting upwards of nine months to get paid and how that white knight was supposedly going to set the US Feds straight by entering into some type of deal to ensure players get paid as two of its executives remain on the lam, the industry is finally coming to its senses and refraining from publication of such banter.
But let’s be clear, it’s not just the poker industry media that has succumb to all these “sources close to the situation”, the mainstream media has believed everything fed to it hook, line and sinker.
Following indictments on April 15 of two Full Tilt Poker executives, bank accounts were froze and, what was once the second largest online poker company, stopped paying all of its customers and they eventually had the plug pulled by the Alderney Gaming Control Commission (AGCC). FTP claims to have a buyer in the form of French investors Groupe Tappie. But despite an insistence that the US Feds were actively working with Full Tilt Poker to come up with some type of “deal” that would release funds, the Feds have yet to clarify any of this.
And why should they?
Gambling911.com has been told by our own sources that Arlo Devlin-Brown, the US Attorney who is overseeing the case against Full Tilt Poker is adamant that jail time be served by those charged as part of the massive investigation into money laundering and bank fraud. We should know a little bit about how this office operates. Gambling911.com, after all, filed a Motion to Intervene with the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York two years prior to the indictment being handed down. The Honorable Judge Laura Taylor Swain found in favor of Gambling911.com, ordering the release of sealed affidavits, albeit with quite a lot of redactions.
And for anyone who truly believes the pixie dust fairies will be waving their magic wand over the US Attorney’s head to allow for any type of “deals” without significant fines and prison time for the two Full Tilt Poker executives charged, we might have a bridge to sell you.
This is akin to the US Feds letting ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff off on the condition that he pay back all his victims. Not going to happen.
In the real world, when a company fails the way that Full Tilt Poker has failed, one might anticipate a fire sale. Said buyer of Full Tilt Poker, Groupe Tappie, has little incentive to ensure US customers get paid. The company itself has little value after seven months of nonpayment to its couple thousand customers, all totaling several million dollars. Any realized value comes from the sale of assets, that being the software and – to some extent – the non-US customer list.
We still have some industry media talking up this so-called “deal” nonetheless.
Case in point, Poker-King.com, which itself is a decent news site, published an article entitled “FTP, GBT, DoJ Continue to Hammer Out Final Agreement” whereby the US Attorney is depicted as operating in the same vein as Bain, the company once run by GOP US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Are we really to believe that the US Attorney is taking on the role of a sort of pseudo venture capitalist? Since when are the US Feds in the business of entering into “business arrangements”, and that is essentially what we are talking about here.
Read this excerpt from the latest piece:
Full Tilt Poker’s shareholders had to consent to forfeit ALL of the company’s assets to the Department of Justice, who would then turn around and sell all of the assets back to GBT.
Some of us are definitely living in the world of fairies and unicorns. The DOJ is acquiring assets then selling them back to a French company who will have as its minority shareholders the very individuals charged with money laundering and bank fraud?
The reality: Full Tilt Poker players have yet to see a dime of their monies and the US Feds have ZERO to do with this. The proof comes from none other than PokerStars, whose executives were also charged as part of the same sweeping indictment. Funds were also seized but, unlike FTP, players were paid in full within less than a month after the indictment was handed down. Blame the Feds for causing Full Tilt Poker, et al. to flee the US market place. Don't blame the Feds for your inabiliity to get paid.
Stars entered into a “real” agreement with the Feds. Facilitate a method/channel that would allow for funds to be sent to US players. That sounds like an arrangement the DOJ might be willing to enter into and, low and behold, confirmed. No asset purchases by the DOJ. No resale of the said assets to a third party. Bottom line, Full Tilt Poker has yet to pay back players and they were given ample opportunity to do so, the same opportunity given to PokerStars.
Our advise to the few news sites still publishing information from “sources close to Full Tilt Poker”, don’t publish anything until you get confirmation from the other side, that being the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. You owe it to your readers.
- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher