Thursday, November 17, 2011

Return of Full Tilt Poker Funds Coming Sooner Than Later?

CNN Money reporting the GBT-FTP-DOJ deal (before the story was taken down)Was following that hearing this afternoon of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding “The Future of Internet Gaming: What's at Stake for Tribes?” Some interesting and suggestive talk about the prospects for federal legislation going on there, with the tribes’ potential involvement being foregrounded throughout.

Right near the end, though, I was distracted by news regarding a possible deal having been struck between Full Tilt Poker, Groupe Bernard Tapie, and the Department of Justice.

The story, filed by Aaron Smith and Erica Fink, popped up a couple of hours ago over on the CNN Money site, although was subsequently taken down. The same article remains up over on Yahoo’s finance page; however, a disclaimer at the top of the report suggests it perhaps the article was posted prematurely: “Editors: THIS STORY IS UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL ERICA GETS THE CLEAR FROM THE LAWYER AT GROUPE BERNARD TAPIE.” (EDIT [added 6:30 p.m.]: The story has been removed from the Yahoo site now, too. Here is a cached version.)

The report says the deal involves FTP forfeiting its assets to the DOJ “which then sold the assets to the GBT.” The purchase price in this deal “brokered” by the DOJ is $80 million. Also mentioned in the story is a plan for the DOJ to dismiss civil forfeiture proceedings against Full Tilt. (Meanwhile, there’s no mention of the amended Black Friday indictment and civil complaint versus Full Tilt and its owners.)

More pertinent to most of us, it sounds like the deal also requires the GBT to “take responsibility for the burned players outside the U.S., while the Department of Justice will facilitate paybacks to the American gamblers.” We Yanks will have to “apply to the DOJ for compensation.”

Like I say, the status of the deal is not 100% certain quite yet. Shortly after the CNN Money article was posted and removed, the International Business Times reported that the deal remained up in the air, choosing the headline “Settlement Stalled?” for their report. Meanwhile, both Vin Narayanan of the Casino City Times (@CasinoCityVin) and Andrew Feldman of ESPN (@ESPN_Poker) tweeted within the last hour that they’d spoken with representatives of the DOJ who refused to confirm or deny any deal had been struck.

However, Wendeen H. Eolis over at Poker Player Newspaper did speak with a legal representative of the GBT who confirmed to her that the deal had been made pending “approval of the deal by a 2/3 vote of the FTP shareholder interests.” Other points of interest regarding the terms of the deal being reported by Eolis include the fact that that the “GBT will hold at least a majority interest in the company,” and that “none of the current FTP directors will be permitted to hold shares in the company.”

Quite a development, this, if the deal is indeed about to be finalized and the news hasn’t been prematurely delivered. I imagine if the FTP shareholders do agree to the deal we should hear some sort of confirmation soon from the DOJ. Would imagine FTP will have a statement of some sort, too. (EDIT [added 7:30 p.m.]: FTP has; see here.) Kind of par for the course, really, for such a story to “break” so uncertainly like this, given the way all of the previous chapters in the ongoing Full Tilt Poker serialized drama have been shared.

I guess we’ll stay tuned. And perhaps some of us will get ready to fill out those applications to the DOJ for the return of our cabbage. I suppose a problem may arise in there somewhere for folks who liked to avoid paying taxes on their winnings, though it is hard to say for sure exactly how that will go.

In any case, it’s funny to compare such a prospect to how things used to look whenever we withdrew from Full Tilt Poker.

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