A Full Tilt Poker spokesperson announced recently that the site would soon be launching a new FullTilt online poker room at .EU.
Coming soon to FullTiltPoker.eu, the site is expected to offer all the same game profile, features and promotions that the old FullTiltPoker.com offered. PokerStars, the new owners of FullTiltPoker, already has experience in this area, having successfully launched its PokerStars.eu branch back in February of 2011. When that site launched, PokerStars phased its players from Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and other countries from pokerstars.com over to pokerstars.eu. It is expected that this is the same thing they will do with fulltiltpoker.com and fulltiltpoker.eu.
The difference between the two boils down to one thing: licensing jurisdiction. .EU websites are lienced in Malta while .COM websites are licensed on the Isle of Man.
It appears this may be a tactic to help players avoid paying income taxes on cash prizes they win at these sites. By switching licensing jurisdictions from the Isle of Man to Malta, players in such countries as those named above (those who would be switched from a Full Tilt Poker .COM membership to a Full Tilt Poker .EU membership) may be able to enjoy tax-free online poker winnings.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is behind schedule in announcing remission plans for the some 1.3 million former U.S. players at Full Tilt Poker who haven’t seen their funds from those accounts, totalling some $159 million, since April of 2011. But they have said that announcement can be expected soon. We’ll bring it to you here when it happens.
Reliable sources have informed Holdem Poker Chat that PokerStars has finalized a deal with The Department of Justice to take over the assets of Full Tilt Poker. Details remain elusive but the happy news for poker players is that any deal with the DoJ always had to include the return of funds stuck on the defunct Full Tilt Poker.
The waiting game has begun, but we have never been this close to players getting paid, and at long last there is real hope. To quote Sir Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
UPDATE: It’s now official http://www.pokerstarsblog.com/corporate_blog/2012/pokerstars-settles-with-united-states-doj-096492.html
The US Department of Homeland Security has seized the Bodog.com domain which hasn’t been used for over a year and has indicted BodogBrand owner Calvin Ayre as well as 3 others. At this time all sources are saying that all player funds are safe and that Bodog.eu, Bodog.co.uk and Bovada.lv will continue with business as usual.
We’re being told that there will be no bank account seizures or arrests. The US government has been after Calvin Ayre for quite some time now so this comes as no surprise to anyone. At this time we still do not know what the exact charges are against Calvin and the others but we suspect they will be similar to those files on April 15, 2011 against the owners of Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars.
Calvin Ayre commented on the situation on calvinayre.com by saying “Not sure what to say. BodogBrand.com is a brand-licensing organization based outside the U.S. The brand left the market last year and the domain in question has been dormant globally for longer than that. We are only currently doing brand licensing deals outside the U.S., so this domain had no place in any of our current plans.”
Calvin Ayre was indicted for operating an illegal gambling business and conspiring to commit money laundering.
Official Press Release from BodogBrand:
The BodogBrand became aware late on 27th February that the domain Bodog.com had been seized by US Homeland Security. This domain is not currently in use by the BodogBrand or any Brand Licensee and has not been in use since the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group (MMGG) switched its operations from Bodog.com to Bodog.eu in May 2011.
The BodogBrand.com revoked its licensing agreement with MMGG on December 15th 2011 after publicly stating it would do so in July 2011. It is equally important to state that Bodog UK, Bodog Europe and Bodog Asia have never taken bets from the US.
The BodogBrand is currently consulting with its legal advisors with a view to having the domain returned.
This is a developing story and we’ll keep you posted with the very latest as we get it.
The Everleaf Network is set to announce their exit from the US poker market. An announcement to that effect should break some time tomorrow. The network received a cease and desist notice from the US government and their Malta licensing authority has advised them to cease all United States operations.
Various skin operators on the network have taken steps to assure players that their money is safe. No one knows for sure how US players will be refunded their money, but there are supposed to be negotiations with the United States in progress now to facilitate that return.
This is all breaking news. Check with Holdem Poker Chat frequently for updates as the situation develops. Luvin Poker was the only Everleaf Network skin that Holdem Poker Chat promoted. Other sites on the network included Minted Poker, Poker4Ever, Raider Poker
In a huge story that was recently released by subjectpoker.com, the US Department of Justice seems to have decided to take action against the Merge Gaming Network. The US Attorney’s Office of the District of Maryland has been said to be planning to seize assets of the payment processors who had played a role in the transactions that occurred between the Merge Network and their US based online poker players. There have been no specific processors to this point who have pointed out as the ones who will be under fire, and there have also been no statements as to whether indictments will come along with these seizures. We’ve contacted all of our sources and none can corroborate this story.
While the Merge Network is currently one of the best online poker options for US based poker players, they have attempted to avoid issues with the US Department of Justice in the past. Back on May 24th they decided to stop accepting US players, which seemed to be a step in that direction; but it was unknown as whether they did this to follow the anti-gambling laws in the United States, or whether it was due to an incredible amount of new sign-ups and the fact that Merge needed to catch up on payouts to current players.
In the end though, Merge is still allowing US based poker players, and allowing them to play for real money; which means that they have not followed the DOJ’s interpretation of the UIGEA. It is unknown currently when these seizures will actually happen, if at all now. They were originally planned for mid to late September, but it could really be any time before or after that time frame. The idea has also been thrown out by subjectpoker.com that the DOJ may actually not even follow through with this plan since it has been released to the public.
As of now, there is really nothing that US players can do. Even if you play on the Merge Network and are looking to withdraw your money off of the site, it could take over a month to get your payment sent to you. So this essentially means that you would not have your withdrawal processed before the seizures actually occur, which would leave you in a tough spot. In reality, a withdrawal could actually move the money of an online poker player into the reach of the DOJ since they are targeting the payment processors themselves. So in the end, it’s very unlikely that withdrawing money off of a Merge Network site will avoid issues of your money being locked up in the end, and instead it could leave you with multiple delays.
It is currently unknown if the Merge Gaming Network will keep funds in segregated accounts, and if this is the case then the segregated accounts may not be in jeopardy of being seized. While places like the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York have stated that they are not seizing segregated accounts and that they are still encouraging sites to repay their players; the Maryland USAO has been much less sympathetic to players, and has not made any statements similar to the ones above. This leaves quite a bit of doubt as to what would happen to players’ funds if the Maryland USAO did move forward with this.
If you visit a Merge Network online poker site, you’ll find that most of their sites have moved to country code top-level domains, which are based out of either the European Union, or Antigua. The regular .com domain names are redirected now to websites that are not affiliated with the United States. There have also been thoughts thrown around that a site could avoid DOJ actions by restricting the United States based players to specific states, and it is unclear if this is possible.
The Merge Network is licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission which requires no fund segregation. But, this network received a letter of intent to be able to secure a license from Malta’s Lotteries and Gaming Authority. The Merge Network has recently been added to the LGA’s list of class four licensees, and some of their main merge skins (such as Lock, Carbon, and Hero Poker) have all added the LGA logo. The reason why this is important, is because the LGA has very strict policies when it comes to the segregation of funds. Neither Merge nor LGA has confirmed the new license, and LGA even stated that Lock Poker was not licensed by them.
This story has drawn quite a bit of attention as of late, and we were glad that Subject: Poker was able to cover this story very early on. All poker players throughout the United States will have their eyes locked on this situation with the Merge Gaming Network, but only time will tell what will happen with one of the few poker networks that allows US players still.
Leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties in the Senate have sent the U.S. Attorney General a letter demanding that the Justice Department do something about Internet gambling. What, exactly, is up to the reader. This Rorschach inkblot test of a letter allows proponents and opponents to project their hopes and wishes on whether the federal government will ever do anything, other than make a few showy arrests, about online gaming.
The fact that the authors could agree on even a letter is itself amazing. Harry Reid is the Majority Leader and a moderate Democrat. He represents Nevada, which makes him pro-gambling. Jon Kyl (R.-AZ) is a conservative Republican, a redundancy since all but two Republicans (the senators from Maine) are conservative. He is the GOP Whip, the third most powerful Republican, and responsible for rounding up the votes of his party in the Senate. More significantly, he is so opposed to Internet gambling that his name has become synonymous with efforts to outlaw it, as in “the Kyl bill.”
So how did sworn enemies come together on this issue? And what exactly did they agree to?
Optimists see the letter as a breakthrough, that Kyl is getting ready to allow, at least, intra-state Internet poker. As additional evidence, they point to this language from Kyl’s website:
“Efforts to carve out an exception for games like poker, which many believe is a game of skill, may be considered later this year. Until I have the chance to review them, I cannot make a judgment about their merits; but I will consider them carefully as long as they leave in place the broader proscriptions against online betting.”
But, if anyone thinks Kyl has suddenly become reasonable, here is the preceding paragraph:
“I have opposed efforts to legalize Internet gambling in the past because evidence suggests that it fosters problems unlike any other forms of gambling. Online players can gamble 24 hours a day from home; children can play without sufficient age verification; and betting with a credit card can undercut a player’s perception of the value of cash — leading to possible addiction and, in turn, bankruptcy, crime, and even suicide.”
So, what is really going on? It is not cynical to remember we are dealing here with professional politicians. Notice, for example, Kyl’s careful language about Internet gambling being “unlike any other forms of gambling.” Kyl is a social conservative, one of those Big Brother types who want government in the wedding chapel, bedroom and doctor’s office, particularly if you are female. He is against gambling. But Arizona’s casino tribes are politically powerful and able to give, or withhold, millions of dollars in campaign donations.
Reid says he is personally opposed to Internet gambling. But he represents Nevada casinos. So, his position switched when the American Gaming Association’s switched. Reid went so far as to introduce his own online gaming bill, which would have benefited Harrah’s (now renamed Caesars).
Deconstructing the letter — a copy is attached — it is clear the real enemies are the state lotteries. The one thing Reid and Kyl can agree on is that Internet poker should be run by their constituents: Indian casinos for Kyl and commercial casinos for Reid. So, it is possible that Congress might legalize intra-state and ever interstate online poker, if they can figure out a way to prevent state lotteries from being the operators.
Of course, this requires Congress to actually do something. Reid has proven himself to be such a weak leader that Democrats could not accomplish their full agenda, even when they had the Presidency, control of the House, and a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate. And the Republicans were rewarded in the 2010 election for being the “Party of No.” They are anti-government to begin with — except for trying to impose their religious views on everyone else — and believe they can win in 2012 if Obama accomplishes nothing more.
Some conservatives, like Rep. Joe Barton (R.-TX), best known for apologizing to BP for the White House daring to investigate its Gulf oil spill, have come out in favor of Internet poker. But all it will take is one letter from an anti-gambling religious group, like Focus on the Family, to get the right-wing riled up. The tea-party controls the GOP, and while Democrats still have the presidency and a majority in the Senate, the Republicans have veto power over everything.
Former United States Full Tilt Poker players have filed a class action lawsuit against just about anyone they could think of associated with Full Tilt Poker. Filed in the notorious U.S. District Court, South District of New York. the suit names four plaintiffs (Nick Hammer, Steve Segal, Todd Terry, and Robin Hougdahl). However, the suit states it is on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated. The people and companies the suit is filed against is open-ended, and is worded in a way that more defendants can be named at a later date.
Some tidbits to mull over:
Some people specifically named in the suit; Raymond Bitar, Nelson Burtnick, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, John Juanda, Jennifer Harman, Phil Gordon, Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Andy Bloch, Mike Matusow, Gus Hansen, Allen Cunningham, and Patrik Antonius.
For the legal geeks: “All Defendants, by virtue of their control and ownership of the Full Tilt Companies that comprise the Full Tilt umbrella, and/or their ownership stakes in the umbrella undertaking, are liable for conversion of Plaintiffs’ and class members’ monies and assets (the “property”) held in Plaintiffs’ and class members’ Full Tilt Player Accounts. The Player Accounts and the property therein are currently and wrongfully in the exclusive custody of the Defendants.”
“represent a nation-wide class of Full Tilt account holders residing in the United States . . . Plaintiffs bring suit to demand return of U.S. player funds and for damages . . . U.S. Players’ would never have suffered injury, but for the Defendants’ widespread scheme to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in order to pad their own pockets.”
It remains to be seen what impact this will have on any possible sale/bailout. It seems odd that no one else seems to be reporting more details or rumors about who these “European Investors” are. The only information to come out is the LA Times story. Usually rumors swirl and secrets are never kept well in the poker business. The lack of new information seems to call into question what is actually going on with that whole story.
As always, Holdem Poker Chat is your source for any breaking news from the poker world. Check back often for development on this and any other news on your favorite game
The LA Times is reporting that European investors are poised to buy a majority stake in Pocket Kings, the parent company of Full Tilt Poker. So far this is the only report on the matter, but the Times got this quote from Phil Ivey’s lawyer, David Chesnoff “Mr. Ivey intends to dismiss his lawsuit as he believes Full Tilt is taking steps to see that the players are paid.” No statements directly from Full Tilt Poker were obtained but the report says “Attorneys close to Full Tilt said that the deal reached Thursday was part of broader negotiations to clear up its legal problems with Alderney and U.S. prosecutors.”
This should be tentative good news for US players with money on Full Tilt Poker. Any attempt to resurrect the brand should probably include paying players their outstanding balances. The report does not name the investors in any detail, and does not go as far as to say that US players are guaranteed to be paid.
It seems a bit odd that the LA Times broke this story. Usually news like this comes from more poker-centric sources. The story does have a couple inaccuracies. It states that three sites were “shut down” by the US government. PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Bet. In one paragraph of the story they correctly mention that those “three” sites still operate outside the US and then in the next paragraph they call them “shut down”.
I am sure more information should become available soon. Check Holdem Poker Chat for up to the date information
Last week we posted a story about the US Department of Justice releasing some Full Tilt Poker funds so that US players could be paid. As it turns out this is not true. Holdem Poker Chat along with most poker news outlets based the story on an article on eGaming Review Magazine which turns out to just be a lie.
The Public Information Office of the US Attorney’s Office has said that no funds have been released and that if any such action should be taken that it would be followed up by a public filing from their office.
Quicktender – UseMyWallet issued the following press release today regarding the recent problems with recent transactions. It appears they still do not know the true issue of the problem but do fear that the US bank accounts used to process transactions have been seized by the US Department of Justice.
The management of Quicktender would like to make the following statement
regarding the current situation with UseMyWallet/Quicktender withdrawals:
We have operated a reputable and reliable payment mechanism for US customers
since 2006. Our reputation is important to us, and until recently there has
never been any question that players and merchants would be paid. In order
to achieve this, we have built over many years relationships with payment
intermediaries that share our values of honesty and integrity. In the
jurisdictions from which we offer our services we are proud to be properly
licensed and constituted, and have even worked with US law enforcement on
occasions where criminal activity has been identified.
However, we cannot always predict some of the vagaries of the US
administration. Over the past 2 weeks we have in good faith transmitted
withdrawals initiated by Quicktender account holders to beneficiary bank
accounts in the US. The money left our account in Europe. It was only in
response to increasing complaints from our customers that we recognised
there was a problem, and asked our bank to investigate. It emerges that the
money has been accumulated in our bank’s correspondent banking partners
accounts in the US, and has been frozen. We suspect it is possible that
these funds may be subject to a seizure order by the US authorities. We
would stress that we do not have bank accounts in the US of our own, and
that the funds have left our account Europe.
It is our express intention to ensure that the funds of our account holders
are safe. For this reason we have decided to suspend future withdrawals
until we understand what has happened to the money that has been frozen. If
we continue to transmit bank wires into the US we could find that these
funds also do not reach their ultimate beneficiaries. This would simply make
the problem worse.
We ask our customers to bear with us in these difficult times. Please be
assured that we have always honored our obligations in the past, and that we
will make every effort to overcome these current difficulties. It is not in
the interests of anybody to attempt to financially impact QuickTender
further. These actions may impact the future viability of the company and
the ability of the company to pay its customers. We are assessing our
current exposure, and how best to reintroduce withdrawals safely.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their past
loyalty, and to reiterate that we will take all possible steps to ensure
that our customers money is secure.