By Wendeen H. Eolis
[Update: Deal is now complete and official. (PokerStars Blog)]
At the end of last week, Poker Player Newspaper ("PPN") released breaking news that thundered across the online poker globe, announcing in very careful language that the die had been cast, effectively, for a completed deal between PokerStars and the United States Department of Justice to acquire the Full Tilt Poker ("FTP") brand.
One business day later, the poker natives are at peak restlessness, fuming over the delay in a concrete announcement by any of the parties that would confirm or bury the PPN bulletin.
Last week’s PPN story stopped short of saying there was a done deal. While, my source was unequivocal in referencing a signed deal between the parties, the Deep Throat connection noted that the deal had yet to receive a final blessing - a signed order by the judge, approving the settlement.
Judge Keeps Up the Tension
While not making light of this final piece in the process, you should know historically, judges generally are not inclined to withhold their seal of approval of a settlement that has been reached between the parties unless there are issues of competency, integrity, and/or sound mind regarding the dealmakers.
In a case of this magnitude, filled with esteemed lawyers at center stage in the negotiations, it would be almost unfathomable for a judge to torpedo a deal signed by the parties - especially one that would assure prompt repayment of player funds.
July 27 News Bulletin and Follow-up
Ergo, early in the morning of Friday July 27, after learning the deal between the parties had been completed a day earlier, I wrote my news report, deciding to steer clear of a pronouncement of a completed deal and taking care to avoid a date certain by which we might hear an announcement or find a public filing that would confirm the settlement.
While poker forums nor the twitterverse are as active home turf for me as they are for many of my readers, over the weekend I was persuaded to provide some further details concerning the anticipated payout arrangements.
Subsequently, I posted some responses to weekend reports regarding the bulletin and my tweets concerning the anticipated payout plans. That posting is linked HERE.
DOJ Cares about Player Funds
One of the reasons the Tapie-DOJ deal had failed according to Groupe Bernard Tapie lawyer Behn Dayanim, was the Justice Department’s insistence that players be fully repaid within 90 days of completion of the deal.
While FTP players around the world were unconvinced that the Justice Department was in their corner, I had long since learned through lawyers all around the courthouse that repayment of the players’ funds was an exceedingly high priority of the Manhattan–based US Attorney, Preet Bharara.
Additionally, lawyers who have represented other potential suitors for FTP since Black Friday also confirmed their understanding that a timely payout plan would be mandated. I received assurances that the payouts would be sooner than the bulletin suggested, but I opted to refrain from narrowing the timetable on that issue, choosing to address only a slightly accelerated timetable for the re-launch.
Updated Status Report
Today PPN goes to press without any announcement by the parties and with no evidence yet of a signed order by the judge. Neither is there one scintilla of evidence in my possession from anywhere of a torpedoed deal. To the contrary, there appears to be mounting pressure for all concerned to bring the matter to a swift close. With this latest information in mind from previously rock solid sources,I’ll go out on a limb once more not only to stand behind our original bulletin, but also to predict we are talking about a matter of days before uncorking the champagne in celebration of a sealed deal.
Editor’s Note: Wendeen H. Eolis is CEO of Eolis International Group a legal/government affairs consultancy. She was formerly a senior advisor to Mayor Giuliani and then to Governor Pataki. Her government affairs and business portfolios include extensive gaming matters. She was also the first woman to cash in the main event of the WSOP (1986) and has since cashed in the main event and in five other WSOP tournaments.
This article, and related research is property of the author, and may be used in her other writings. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at the website www.eolis.com you can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.