Full Tilt Poker had Given Players $128 Million in Loans

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Full Tilt Poker

SubjectPoker.com on Monday reported that Full Tilt Poker had credited customers up to $128 million in funds that never left their bank accounts.  Essentially, as SubjectPoker.com points out, these customers were playing at FTP on credit, similar to the sportsbook model where bookies take bets from players and settle up later, no deposits necessary. 

Full Tilt’s policy was viewed as one to gain a leg’s up on the competition, specifically the much larger PokerStars.  Individuals unable to fund newly registered accounts at Stars due to processing issues would have little trouble doing so at FTP, simply because they would not have to go through the processors to enjoy “real cash” play.

From SubjectPoker.com:

As we first explained in June, players who deposited by electronic funds transfer  (also known as EFTs or “e-checks”) received the deposited funds instantly in their Full Tilt Poker accounts. Typically, these funds would be debited from the players’ bank accounts a few business days after their deposit.  However, during the time period in question, many US players found that these funds were simply never taken from their bank accounts. Full Tilt had given them funds on their site for nothing.

This was not simply an accident, as many had suspected. Full Tilt Poker was actually accepting deposits and crediting player accounts without payment processors in place to collect the money. Full Tilt had effectively given players loans without telling them, under the assumption that they could collect the debt later.

205*128 Mad Month
No USA Customers Permitted

Full Tilt Poker is named in an April 15 indictment handed down by the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.  Two of its co-founders have been charged with money laundering and bank fraud and remain on the lam as authorities continue to hunt them down.  Several homes belonging to one of the defendants, Raymond Bitar, were seized in the United States.

The shortfall was initially discovered as part of a press release discussing another defendant’s plea bargain.  Bradley Franzenacted as a payment processor for Full Tilt Poker who admitted to assisting that company try to deal with the shortfall in question just prior to the indictments being handed down.   SubjectPoker noted that the amount mentioned in the press release was only a fraction of the actual $128 million.

All of this, oddly enough, transpired during a time in which the principals in Full Tilt Poker knew they were named in an ongoing investigation uncovered after a Federal Judge, the Honorable Laura Taylor Swain, found in favor of Costigan Media’s Motion to Intervene and gain access to a sealed affidavit naming FTP and PokerStars as part of an ongoing investigation into payment processors.  Costigan Media is the parent company of Gambling911.com. 

The idea that player debts to Full Tilt Poker has contributed to that company’s inability to pay won’t sit well with many.

USA Customers are Welcome. 

From SubjectPoker.com:

These debts range from over four months old to over a year old, and most of the players are unaware that they even owe money to the poker site. Full Tilt Poker had serioustroubleswith reversed transactions, emptied bank accounts, and customer complaints trying to collect these debts four months ago. These problems would doubtless be worse now.

History tells us affected players stand a very slight chance of ever seeing their funds.  When the one time largest online sportsbook BetOnSports.com was forced to shut down after an indictment against company officials in July of 2006, it too claimed vendors and processors (not so much customers who opened gambling accounts) owed the company millions of dollars.  This summer, affected players finally received checks, most for 3 cents on the dollar. 

- Alejandro Botticelli,  Gambling911.com

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