Well, this is good news.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has just released a statement detailing agreements reached between the U.S. government and embattled online poker sites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
The poker sites have agreed to enter domain-name use agreements with the United States. As part of this agreement, the domains PokerStars.com and Fulltiltpoker.com will be restored in order to "facilitate return of U.S. player funds."
The statement attempts to make clear that Friday's indictments for fraud and money laundering never in fact barred the refunding of player funds - the companies have always been free to reimburse players. With this agreement, however, player refunds will be facilitated by the U.S. government reinstating the .com domains.
The Complaint, a related Indictment, and a related Restraining Order issued against multiple bank accounts utilized by the companies and their payment processors do not prohibit the companies from refunding players’ money. Nevertheless, this agreement will facilitate the return of money so that players can register their refund requests directly with Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker.
No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player's deposited funds. In fact, this Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate.
The agreement explicitly bars the sites from facilitating online poker for real money within the U.S. and disallows deposits. Foreign players are encouraged to keep on playing.
The agreements allow for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to use the pokerstars.com and fulltiltpoker.com domain names to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players’ funds held in account with the companies. The deposit of funds by U.S. players is expressly prohibited. In addition, the agreements do not prohibit, and, in fact, expressly allow for, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to provide for, and facilitate, players outside of the United States to engage in playing online poker for real money.
Thanks to Kevin Mathers of Bluff Magazine for alerting to this on Twitter: