Waiting for Bitar

by , Jul 27, 2011 | 4:28 am

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NO PLAYING AROUND, but who then is toying with whom?

LONDON — Those hoping for a definitive answer on the future of Full Tilt and their funds will have to wait a little longer. After a full day of packed public hearing and nearly six hours of private deliberations at the Victoria Plaza Hotel, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission granted Full Tilt’s application to have the hearing adjourned. The AGCC says it will reconvene replacement proceedings no later than September 15th.

Panel chairwoman Isabel Picornell said the commission were convinced that a delay was “in the best interests of FTP customers” — primarily because Full Tilt could use that extra time to complete any investment deal. The AGCC understand, she continued, that exposing commercially sensitive information rides roughshod over hopes of a bailout that refunds players.

Before banishing the public and media to the hotel lobby, the commission let Martin Heslop QC, representing Full Tilt, hold forth on the reasons why his team’s application for an adjournment should be held in camera. However cynical you are about Full Tilt’s intentions, paying back their players is a stumbling block to any potential regulatory agreement. To hold proceedings in public, Heslop pressed, would compromise any potential deals, thus derailing the desires of both parties and the customers.

Heslop made only brief mention of AGCC requirements on Full Tilt employees or executives to provide evidence that could be self-incriminating for the company and executives still awaiting trial in the U.S.

Full Tilt attorneys also revealed, in rebuttal to comments from AGCC counsel, that one entity still awaiting payment is the AGCC. Full Tilt apparently failed to pay a $250,000 licensing fee, which played a part in their license being revoked. But Heslop brushed off any intimation of wrongdoing on Full Tilt’s part, explaining that the online poker company believed their days with Alderney were numbered, so decided not to needlessly expend the cash. The money would be paid, he continued, should the AGCC decide to proffer the olive branch and accept Full Tilt back into the fold.

Almost no concrete information emerged about the rumoured European investors, though it’s quite possible that Full Tilt’s lawyers were simply adept enough to win the debate without revealing as much. The AGCC have consistently maintained that refunding jilted players was their primary concern. Without a new backer, Full Tilt will not have the cash to refund those frozen accounts. Denying their motion to adjourn would only exacerbate the problem, as it removes the likelihood of an investor stumping up desired capital.

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IN CAMERA: Is it no entry, or more like “No Exit”?


“Publicity would be prejudicial to the interest of justice,” said Mr. Heslop, calling out eGaming Review for claiming they would be offering live coverage of the hearing. Heslop followed up by invoking the Human Rights Act, specifically that “everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing”.

And some, it seems, are entitled to a delayed and private one.

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