The long-rumored deal between PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and the U.S. Department of Justice is now complete and players with balances stuck on Full Tilt Poker since Black Friday now have something to look forward to – the return of their funds.
Under the terms of the deal, announced by all parties on Tuesday, PokerStars pays the U.S. Government a fine totaling $547 Million, acquires the assets of Full Tilt Poker and agrees to repay all outstanding account balances of Full Tilt Players. players outside of the United States can expect to be paid within 90 days by PokerStars while American players will be paid by the U.S. Government.
“We are pleased to announce these settlements by Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, which allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands,” said Preet Bharara, Manhattan U.S. Attorney. “Today’s settlements demonstrate that if you engage in conduct that violates the laws of the United States, as we alleged in this case, then even if you are doing so from across the ocean, you will have to answer for that conduct and turn over your ill-gotten gains.”
PokerStars will pay the $547 Million fine over three years with the first payment of $225 Million due by August 6. The money collected by the U.S. Government will be used to pay U.S. players back. The designation of U.S. or “rest of world” is based on the address on a players Full Tilt account as of April 14, 2011. PokerStars will pay out an estimated $184 Million to non-U.S. players within 90 days.
Under terms of the deal Isai Scheinberg, twice ranked the most influential man in poker in the BLUFF Power 20, will step down from his role with PokerStars and will not take any similar roll with PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker. Howard Lederer, Rafe Furst, Chris Ferguson, Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick are also prohibited from maintaining a managerial role with either company. The online account balances of Lederer, Ferguson and Furst will not be returned.
The civil forfeiture and money laundering charges against PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker parties are both dismissed but the criminal charges against Scheinberg and Bitar remain unresolved.
“We are delighted we have been able to put this matter behind us, and also secured our ability to operate in the United States of America whenever the regulations allow,” said Mark Scheinberg, Chairman of the Board of PokerStars. “This outcome demonstrates our continuing global leadership of the online poker industry, and our commitment to working with governments and regulators to ensure the highest standards of protection for players.”
PokerStars will re-launch Full Tilt Poker as a separate brand with a completely new, independent management team. The time frame for the re-launch is unknown. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker are “prohibited from offering online poker in the U.S. for real money unless and until it is legal to do so under U.S. law.” The deal does not provide for any special treatment for PokerStars once online poker is regulate in the United States at either the Federal or State level.
A key element of the deal ensures that neither PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker (or anybody associated with them) admits to any wrongdoing.
Moments after the deal was announced Full Tilt Poker issued a press release thanking the poker community for their patience. “Full Tilt Poker apologizes to all of its customers who endured a long and difficult period wondering whether this day would ever come.”
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