Full Tilt Poker Gets License Revoked, Players Still Left Without RefundsBy: Josh Wolford - September 30, 2011
Unfortunately, if you still have money tied up in Full Tilt Poker, the chances of you seeing it any time soon are worse than pulling that case Ace on the river.
Three months after their gambling license was suspended, Full Tilt has now been hit with the revocation of said license by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. The AGCC runs out of U.K.’s Channel Islands. The regulators at the AGCC control the gambling licenses that allow Full Tilt to operate worldwide.
On Thursday, the AGCC revoked the license, saying that Full Tilt had fundamentally misled the licensing authority about its funds. This included false reporting, unauthorized provision of credit and failure to report material events.
Things have been pretty bad for Full Tilt Poker since the initial Black Friday crackdown on major online poker sites also including PokerStars and Absolute Poker. After the DOJ reached domain-name agreements with the targeted companies, player funds were supposed to start being reimbursed. PokerStars started doing that at the end of April.
Full Tilt was slow to cashout players from the start, and they didn’t even contact players about possible payouts until a month after Black Friday. In August, with players still waiting on their funds, Full Tilt released a statement that blamed the DOJ indictments and seizures for holding up payouts.
And then last week, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara released a scathing statement labeling Full Tilt Poker a “massive Ponzi scheme.” It has been claimed that Full Tilt used player funds to pay off the board of directors which included famous poker stars Howard Lederer and Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson. According to the U.S. Attorney, Full Tilt had just $6 million in the bank while owning more than $300 million.
The AGCC said that the revocations do not mean that they can’t be reactivated if the business were to come under new ownership and management.
And that’s what Full Tilt is arguing – that they had a possible investor who was taking steps to acquire the company and the revocation of the licenses has thrown a wrench in that deal. Full Tilt issued a statement about the AGCC hearing and what they feel is a decision by the commission that harms players.
During the hearing, Full Tilt Poker offered the testimony of an investor interested in acquiring the company. The interested investor testified before the Commission as to its advanced status of negotiations with the company and the terms and conditions of a potential purchase. Full Tilt Poker requested a 30-day adjournment of the hearing to allow for transition of the company to the new investment team.
Today, the Commission announced its decision to revoke three of the four Full Tilt Poker operating licenses, despite the weight of evidence presented at the hearing by Full Tilt Poker of investor interest in acquiring the company. The Commission’s decision to revoke Full Tilt Poker’s operating licenses makes it more difficult to execute the sale of the company and hence repay its players.
Full Tilt also says that they have been totally committed to repaying players in full – something that the U.S. Attorney’s office would thoroughly contend.
Poker Pro BJ Nemeth has been discussing the news extensively on Twitter –
So there are investors willing to invest $100s of millions into the clusterfuck of Full Tilt who are turned off by applying for a license?
Yes, Full Tilt. Everything would be fine if only the AGCC respected your players (and their funds) as much as you did.
So many of Full Tilt’s post-Black Friday actions look like stall tactics. But I can’t figure out what they were waiting for.
Another common discussion on Twitter involves the regulation tactics of the AGCC –
Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) revoked Full Tilt Poker’s licences but no mention of the fact that they failed to regulate.
The executive director of the AGCC Andre Wilsenach spoke out about the claims that they should have known something was up –
Wilsenach refused to accept any responsibility for the AGCC being unable to spot the $331 million, that was seized by the Department of Justice between 2007 and 2011, sooner. He put the blame firmly on Full Tilt Poker when he was questioned about it:
“Are you suggesting that we are wicked? I blame it absolutely on Full Tilt. In my view it’s absolutely right that the commission has decided to revoke their licences.”
He went on to say that the only person who could have made them aware of the frozen funds were Full Tilt themselves, claiming that “If your operator doesn’t tell then there’s no way you would know.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if Full Tilt emerges from this mess remembered as a giant Ponzi scheme (which it’s looking more an more likely that they will), it is simply a horrible thing for online poker. Many forces in the U.S., both governmental and private, are working for the legalization and regulation of the game online, and this is truly hurtful to the cause. It just drains consumer confidence. On the flip side, you could certainly argue that this serves as a prime example for why tight regulation is needed to ensure online poker can exist and thrive.