Since Tuesday’s Full Tilt hearing, a surprising amount of misinformation has been swilling around the internet. Surprising, because so few details emerged in the first place. After just 45 minutes, press and public were frogmarched from the building, leaving everyone to pore over a few snippets of legal jargon. Trawling through internet forums and Twitter feeds, I’ve noticed that people seem particularly confused about the £250,000 in unpaid licensing fees owed by Full Tilt.
[CORRECTION: oops, £250,000, as in British pounds ... not $250,000 as originally reported. £250k is roughly equal to US$400k.-dm]
Perhaps I shouldn’t be that shocked that those without direct access to the hearing have picked up misconceptions. The internet has an incredible ability to play Chinese Whispers with even the smallest morsel. Still, you’d expect someone sat a few rows behind me to have the right end of the stick.
Harry Demetriou is fast becoming a folk hero among disgruntled Full Tilt customers. When the Alderney Gambling Control Commission announced that proceedings were to continue in private, he rose to his feet and charged from the room, accusing the panel of protecting a “corrupt” organization. On Wednesday he posted an open letter to the Commission, in which he makes mention of the “250k licence fee that Full Tilt Poker have promised to pay you in the next seven days.”
This is wrong. I was in the room when this topic was raised, so I’ll do my best to clarify. Let’s run through the chain of events as they occurred.
After a long explanation of why he believed that a motion to adjourn should be held in private, Full Tilt lawyer Martin Heslop ceded the floor to a pair of AGCC lawyers. At this point, no mention had been made of the missing money. Speaking slowly into their microphones, Alderney’s legal team took a few moments to express ambivalence towards a private hearing. Just before handing back to the panel, they noted that there were two allegations to be made regarding the suspension of the license. In addition to problems related to Black Friday, there was the small point of a missing $250,000 licensing fee.
The commission were ready to move on, before Heslop interjected, asking if he could make a response. Stoic chairwoman Isabel Picornell leant over to her legal advisor, who responded with a quick nod of approval. In his rebuttal, Heslop offered to explain why the $250,000 had not been paid. He claimed that Full Tilt knew their license was approaching suspension and therefore decided it would be foolish to fork over the cash.
This is the point at which Harry diverges from reality. Heslop closed by adding that Full Tilt would be happy to pay the quarter of a million within seven days, should the license be reinstated. There was no offer to pay in the next week regardless of whether or not Full Tilt were back in business. If they return to Alderney they will need new investment. Demetriou need not be worried that the AGCC are, “going to cause an even greater shortfall in the funds needing to be paid back to the players.”
Some have interpreted the offer as a bribe. A large cash incentive to get the AGCC to arbitrate in their favour. I can’t totally rule this out, but it seems pretty unlikely. Full Tilt’s non-payment is part of why their license was suspended in the first place. There’s no way Full Tilt can ask to be let back into town, but then refuse to pay the upkeep. The AGCC know this. It’s their rule. It would be like trying to bribe the government by offering to pay your taxes.
Rage against Full Tilt to your heart’s content, but don’t expect to get any facts if you don’t have any to start with.