Poker Players Alliance Meets with DOJ on Full Tilt Funds

Michael Jones : November 14th, 2012
Full Tilt U.S. cashouts

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Full Tilt Poker funds are not close to being returned to Americans, according to the Poker Players Alliance after a meeting with the United States Department of Justice on Tuesday.

In a release, John A. Pappas, the Executive Director of the PPA, said he met with officials from the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section regarding Full Tilt Poker funds in the U.S. government’s possession. PokerStars, as part of an agreement a few months ago to purchase Full Tilt Poker’s assets from the DOJ, forfeited about $200 million to the United States to be used to repay Americans. Full Tilt, which had been out of operation since last year, relaunched earlier this month under PokerStars’ ownership, with players outside of the United States receiving funds that had been inaccessible since Full Tilt’s license suspension in 2011.

Pappas wrote that he and his colleagues at the meeting “provided DOJ with information and insights on what the player community expects from the remission process, and how we believe such a process ought be administered to assure fairness.”

While Pappas said the meeting was friendly and useful, little progress appeared to be made in actually repaying Americans owed Full Tilt funds. The DOJ has not yet decided exactly how player balances will be calculated, and an administrator to take care of the remissions process has not been selected.

The biggest sticking point in the prospective remissions process has been how much will be returned to American Full Tilt players. It is apparently up in the air whether or not players will receive the full value of their balances, or if only deposits will be returned, not money won playing poker or earned via affiliates. Pappas wrote:

“Our first priority was to reaffirm our earlier assertions from an August 8, 2012 letter that 100 percent of player account balances be made available to players through the remission process. We laid out compelling legal and practical arguments why full repayment was the only equitable solution. We also raised the issue of “player point” balances on Full Tilt Poker and encouraged the DOJ to recognize the inherent value of these points when they consider what a player is owed. Our thoughts on these matters were well received; however, it was clear from our discussion that no decisions have been made at the DoJ regarding the manner of repayment of player balances. Nevertheless, we have provided them with a clear picture of the expectations of the player community.”

There also appears to be no timeline set up to deal with player funds. Again, according to Pappas:

Unfortunately, completion of a refund claims process is a long way away. The first step in this process will be the Department’s hiring of of a third-party claims administrator, after a bidding process: there is no current date certain for that selection to occur. But it was evident that even when a claims administrator is hired, forfeiture and remission procedures require that a substantial administrative process be adhered to before players begin seeing their funds. The PPA will remain vigilant in our advocacy for the players. We are also mindful of the staffing and resource limitations of the Department – and the numerous other forfeiture cases they are administering — and we thus have offered our assistance to help them navigate the complexities of the issues and hopefully expedite the refund process.

You can read Pappas’ entire statement here.

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