By Shari Geller
It’s been four-and-a-half months since Full Tilt Poker was shut down, its owners indicted by the U.S. government and players looking in vain for return of their deposits. Since then, there has been the occasional statements from various sources purporting to speak on behalf of Full Tilt, but no answer to the ultimate question where the players’ money is and will it be returned.
So Tuesday when Full Tilt Poker released its most thorough statement on its current predicament, to Forbes.com, there was little hope that anything concrete would come of it. And, not surprisingly, it was more talk without any substance. In effect, Full Tilt blamed others for its problems and did not set forth any definitive plan to make good on its outstanding debt.
The one-page statement pointed the finger at the U.S. Department of Justice action on Black Friday as well as an alleged massive theft perpetrated by one of its payment processors. Here is Full Tilt’s latest official statement:
As is obvious from the events that have transpired since April 15th, Full Tilt Poker was not prepared for the far-reaching, US government enforcement effort of Black Friday.
The events of Black Friday came on the heels of prior government enforcement activities and significant theft. Over the two years preceding Black Friday, the US government seized approximately $115M of player funds located in U.S. banks. While we believed that offering peer-to-peer online poker did not violate any federal laws—a belief supported by many solid and well-reasoned legal opinions — the DOJ took a different view. In addition, as was widely reported, a key payment processor stole approximately $42M from Full Tilt Poker. Until April 15th, Full Tilt Poker had always covered these losses so that no player was ever affected. Finally, during late 2010 and early 2011, Full Tilt Poker experienced unprecedented issues with some of its third-party processors that greatly contributed to its financial problems. While the company was on its way to addressing the problems caused by these processors, Full Tilt Poker never anticipated that the DOJ would proceed as it did by seizing our global domain name and shutting down the site worldwide.
Over the last four months, Full Tilt Poker has been actively exploring opportunities with outside investors in order to stabilize the company and pay back our players. At least six of those groups, including hedge funds, operators of other internet businesses and individual investors, have visited Dublin to inspect the operation. We have recently engaged an additional financial advisor through an investment banking group to assist us in our search for an infusion of cash as well as a new management team to restore the site and repay players. While any deal of this nature is necessarily complex given the current regulatory environment, our players should know that Full Tilt Poker is fully committed to paying them back in full and restoring confidence in our operations.
Whether that full commitment to repaying players will ever manifest in actual money being returned, is still unknown. Rumors about potential investors have been circulating for some time, with the company now claiming that a total of six different investment groups, including hedge funds and operators of other Internet firms, have visited their Dublin headquarters as part of a planned sale. In addition, the company claims to have hired an unnamed financial advisor to “assist us in our search for an infusion of cash as well as a new management team to restore the site and repay players.” But with each passing day, the odds of Full Tilt surviving, let alone being able to make good on their debts, are not looking great.