by Haley Hintze
CHARGES UNSUPPORTABLE BY EVIDENCE
Former Full Tilt owners and board members Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson have re-filed motions to dismiss civil-forfeiture proceedings connected to the US Department of Justice’s ongoing “Black Friday” crackdown against former US-facing poker companies. The DOJ seeks more than $40 million each from Lederer and Ferguson, and the two originally filed a motion to dismiss in July 2012. That motion was rendered moot by the DOJ’s filing of a “Second Amended Complaint,” which added allegations against several different defendants and spent dozens of paragraphs detailing expensive assets purchased by Lederer with funds distributed from Full Tilt. The latest motion reasserts that the evidence proffered to date does not warrant action against the two, who were among the founders of the site.
DOJ TO HIRE FULL TILT REMISSIONS ADMINISTRATOR BY JANUARY 2013
The Department of Justice continues to review applicants for a claims administrator to coordinate refunds to former American players of Full Tilt poker, according to a brief update posted on the DOJ website. The DOJ’s most recent update, published on November 20th, confirmed that a claims administrator is expected to be hired by January of 2013, with the remissions process then to be developed next year.
MGM RESORTS WINS FULL NEVADA ONLINE POKER APPROVAL
Nevada casino giant MGM Resorts has received full approval as one of that state’s licensed poker operators, only one week after sailing through a suitability hearing. MGM is one of 16 applicants to have received Nevada Gaming Commission approval to date, with about a half dozen of those being casino interests planning to operate one or more online sites. MGM has announced plans to use the software services of bwin.party, assuming that the European company passes its own upcoming approval hearings.
BWIN.PARTY CO-CEO DETAINED BY BELGIAN AUTHORITIES
Norbert Teufelberger, the co-CEO of online gaming giant bwin.party, was briefly detained by Belgian authorities as part of an ongoing trade dispute between the European Union and several of its member countries, including Belgium. Teufelberger forced the issue by appearing at and giving the closing address for the European Gaming & Betting Association’s “Responsible Gaming Day” in Brussels. The EGBA is a seven-member collective of European gaming companies led by bwin.party. Teufelberger was soon released, though bwin.party continues operating in Belgium in defiance of that country’s laws and has, to date, failed to pay a Ð75,000 fine for operating without a license. Bwin.party domains have also been added to a blacklist maintained by Belgium.
PENN NATIONAL SPLITS IN TWO
Penn National Gaming, which operates 29 casino properties in 18 states, has announced a plan to split the company into two separate, publicly traded firms. If approved by regulators, Penn National will split into an operating entity, still called Penn National, and a real estate investment trust (REIT) termed “PropCo.” Penn National, which operates the “Hollywood” casino brand among others, is one of several casino/ entertainment entities which continues searching for ways to restructure its holdings in the face of a stable but non-growing casino industry and severe debt loads for many of its largest players.
FIRST THE BRITS…
Seven neighborhood officers either resigned or were dismissed from a southeast London police team after an internal probe revealed that the officers spent much of their on-duty hours playing poker and other games, instead of handling the neighborhood-security duties for which they were being paid. The officers, all part of the Mottingham and Chislehurst North Safer Neighbourhoods team, frequently skipped their patrol duties in favor of playing poker, backgammon, watching TV, or other activities such as cleaning golf clubs. The “lazy” behavior was captured by hidden cameras as part of the probe.
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.