The Fight: FTP, DOJ, Bwin.Party and MGM Make Headlines

There were not one, but two major announcements with potentially huge impacts on the online poker world this week.  First, bwin.party announced a strategic partnership with MGM/Mirage and Boyd Gaming should online poker become regulated and legalized.  Then, the potential future owners of Full Tilt Poker, Groupe Bernard Tapie, confirmed news that they reached an agreement with the Department of Justice to pay back US customers. We’ve got some more details on both developments in this edition of The Fight:

Just What Does This Full Tilt Deal Mean?

Ever since Subject: Poker first broke the news and iGaming France received confirmation from GBT President Laurent Tapie that the deal was going through, poker players are daydreaming about getting their money back before year’s end.  Yes, this deal is a major step  towards finalizing the sale of the site to the French businessmen, but it is not the guaranteed speedy payday many players are fantasizing about.

As we noted in the Scramble this morning, the fifteen-day mark is when Tapie expects the deal to be signed, not the duration of time it will take to implement.  As you may recall from the Neteller case of 2007 required similar negotiations with the Department of Justice before repaying customers.  It took around six months to reach an agreement with the DOJ and then the site warned about delays when it initially announced its repayment process.

Joe Brennan of the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) has his own thoughts about the high expectations of American players when it comes to getting paid in a timely manner.  Brennan wrote an op-ed for CalvinAyre.com in which he suggests the players’ high expectations for fast processing helped contribute to increasingly questionable processing practices.

Many are still wondering why the French group has taken such an interest in rehabilitating a brand that is considered by many to have little to no worth in the current poker environment.  BLUFF contributor and former lawyer Dave “F-Train” Behr blogged his thoughts about the acquisition and offers some insight into why this purchase has the potential to be hugely profitable.

Hopefully the DOJ and the GBT will have the details available in the next two weeks as promised so we can gain a little more insight about what kind of timeline to expect when it comes to repay both US and international players.

Bwin.party Partners with MGM and Boyd

It has been a little over four years since PartyPoker stopped serving US customers, but with talk of legalized and regulated online gambling in the US growing by the day, the site decided it was time to form a strategic partnership with some land-based US casinos.

The company elected to join up with MGM and Boyd Gaming.  It is not the first time people at Party and people at MGM have joined forces.  Bwin.party subsidiary the World Poker Tour has always had a strong relationship with MGM/Mirage over the course of its ten-year history and one of the tour’s more popular casinos, the Borgata, is partially owned by Boyd Gaming.

Boyd also owns the Coast Casino brand whose properties include the Orleans, Sam’s Town, and Gold Coast casinos in Las Vegas, Delta Downs in Louisiana, and the IP in Biloxi, MS.

Reuters reported on the partnership, which gives 25% ownership to MGM and 10% ownership to Boyd, and spoke with MGM CEO Jim Murren.

“There is now an overarching opinion in Washington that this needs to be addressed. U.S. citizens are putting their financial assets at risk on sites that the U.S. government has no comfort over how they are being operated,” Murren explained.

Co-CEO of bwin.party Jim Ryan expressed a similar sentiment in a statement to Forbes.

“The intention of the joint venture is to take the PartyPoker brand and the World Poker Tour brand and our operating expertise and combine that with the regulatory expertise of MGM and Boyd,” Ryan told Forbes. “Effectively you will have four brands in the U.S. and all four brands will be acquiring players and putting them in one hub, one poker network.”

The deal resulted in a nice bump in the bwin.party stock.  The Guardian reported a nine percent jump in value two days after the deal was announced.

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