by Haley Hintze
STARS PARENT RATIONAL GROUP FULL TILT REFUND APPLICATION PROCESS TO BEGIN IN SEPTEMBER
Garden City Group, the claims-administration firm retained by the Department of Justice to administer the Full Tilt Poker remission process, has announced that former US players of the site will soon be able to apply for refunds. GCG will be mailing application materials to former FTPers on or about September 16th, 2013, at the start of a 60-day window running through November 15, 2013 within which players who had balances frozen on the site as of Black Friday may apply for refunds. The refunds will come from roughly $184 million paid by fellow Black Friday company PokerStars to acquire Full Tilt’s assets; if the total refunds applied for by players and approved by GCG exceeds that amount, the refunds would be prorated. Affected players who have not already registered at the GCG website associated with the FTP remission process, FullTiltPokerClaims.com, will be able to access the application materials on that site on or soon after September 16th.
MICHIGAN TO TIGHTEN CHARITABLE POKER REGULATIONS
Michigan’s proliferating charitable-poker cardrooms have been targeted by new state regulations seeking to reign in the operations, which were authorized in 2004 under Michigan’s Bingo Act. More than 2,500 registered charities use such gaming events as fundraisers, with the operations becoming big business within the state; total reported revenue from charitable gaming events in Michigan has exceeded $180 million in each of the last three years. The primary change will reduce the number of charities which can serve as sponsors at any given event (from six to three) each of which can “sell” $15,000 of real-money poker chips for use during that day’s gaming. The pullback comes amid complaints of floating cardrooms, gaming violations, and lax security. More than 300 gaming and recordkeeping violations have occurred in conjunction with the games, and at least four armed robberies have occurred, including two separate incidents two years apart at a bowling alley outside Muskegon. Supporters of the charitable games allege that the state’s powerful tribal casinos are behind the crackdown.
CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER BILLS STAGNATE
Multiple reports emerging from California indicate that the state’s 2013 legislative efforts to create a regulatory mechanism for intrastate online poker are doomed to failure. As in previous years, turf wars between the state’s pro-gambling factions are being blamed for the gridlock as much as any anti-gambling opposition. Two bills remain in committee, unlikely to move forward before the current session’s September cutoff: SB 51, the proposed Gambling Control Act reintroduced by State Sen. Roderick Wright; and SB 678, the Authorization and Regulation of Internet Poker and Consumer Protection Act of 2013, the latest measure offered by State. Sen. Lou Correa.
PLEA DEALS ANNOUNCED IN NEW YORK GAMBLING RING INDICTMENTS
The second and third of 34 defendants in a major NY-area gambling ring, allegedly controlled in part by former WPT winner Vadim Trincher, has reached a plea deal with federal authorities. According to news reports, William Barbalat and Kirill Rapoport have entered plea deals in exchange for probable short prison terms, joining Hollywood producer Bryan Zuriff, who reached a similar deal last month. All three men were relatively minor defendants in a sweeping crackdown against a ring with alleged extensive connections to important Russian mobsters, including a ringleader once listed on a Forbes world’s-ten-most-wanted list. The larger allegations centered on elite sportsbetting and money laundering options catering to upscale attendees, and include charges of racketeering and extortion for a few prominent defendants. At least 12 of the indictment’s 34 defendants have strong ties to poker, and in several cases were linked to taking and relaying sports bets for the operation. Besides Trincher and his sons Eugene and Illya, notable poker figures indicted include Abe Mosseri, Justin Smith, John Hanson, Peter Feldman and Bill Edler.
Veteran poker-industry writer/editor Haley Hintze is the author of an upcoming book on the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet online cheating scandals, to be released later this year.