Reaching Harry Reid, Full Tilt’s Public Statement on Player Funds

by , Sep 13, 2011 | 5:57 pm

I wish to thank the entire poker community for the outstanding work in telling our elected officials that we demand action on the online poker issue. We as individuals have sent more than 100,000 letters and made countless phone calls to lawmakers this year alone. Let’s keep it up!

Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has ASKED for questions via Twitter for an upcoming town hall. You can send him pro-poker questions in under thirty seconds:

  1. Send a prefilled, editable pro-poker Twitter question: CLICK HERE
  2. Send a second Twitter question for good measure: CLICK HERE
  3. You can track the pro-poker messages here.

I also wish to discuss the ongoing issue with player funds locked up at Ultimate Bet, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt Poker. As someone with around five figures locked up on Full Tilt Poker, I certainly empathize with the situation.

PPA has issued statements demanding that Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet, and Absolute Poker refund player balances. Additionally, PPA representatives – including me – have made statements in several interviews with various poker media sources with demands for repayment. PPA does not accept the Department of Justice fund seizures as an excuse. We have also publicly praised PokerStars for doing the right thing in refunding its U.S. players.

Additionally, PPA’s legal team prepared a legal analysis of the options available to individual players who still have not been able to access their online poker funds held on account. The document — “Legal Rights of Players with Unpaid Balances – A PPA Information Guide” — provides our membership with facts and information about steps individuals can seek to take to claim their online poker account balances.

That being said, PPA is neither a regulatory body nor an enforcement agency. We are a player advocacy group, so our ability to force these sites to comply with our calls for action is limited. In fact, this is why PPA is pushing for legislation that gives us the rights we need as players.

The PPA-supported legislation now in Congress focuses strongly on consumer protection. It mandates protected and segregated player accounts, a U.S. presence (to allow for law enforcement action if needed), and many other provisions that protect our rights as players.

I am hopeful that reports of potential suitors lined up to purchase Full Tilt Poker, along with the recent enforcement actions by their regulators, will help generate positive steps toward player repayment. Full Tilt Poker recently released a statement on this. While it is noncommittal, it is moderately encouraging that they are again speaking publicly on the issue:

Full Tilt Poker, August 30th, 2011

As is obvious from the events that have transpired since April 15th, Full Tilt Poker was not prepared for the far-reaching, US government enforcement effort of Black Friday. 

The events of Black Friday came on the heels of prior government enforcement activities and significant theft. Over the two years preceding Black Friday, the US government seized approximately $115M of player funds located in U.S. banks. While we believed that offering peer-to-peer online poker did not violate any federal laws—a belief supported by many solid and well-reasoned legal opinions — the DOJ took a different view. In addition, as was widely reported, a key payment processor stole approximately $42M from Full Tilt Poker. Until April 15th, Full Tilt Poker had always covered these losses so that no player was ever affected. Finally, during late 2010 and early 2011, Full Tilt Poker experienced unprecedented issues with some of its third-party processors that greatly contributed to its financial problems. While the company was on its way to addressing the problems caused by these processors, Full Tilt Poker never anticipated that the DOJ would proceed as it did by seizing our global domain name and shutting down the site worldwide. 

Over the last four months, Full Tilt Poker has been actively exploring opportunities with outside investors in order to stabilize the company and pay back our players. At least six of those groups, including hedge funds, operators of other internet businesses and individual investors, have visited Dublin to inspect the operation. We have recently engaged an additional financial advisor through an investment banking group to assist us in our search for an infusion of cash as well as a new management team to restore the site and repay players. While any deal of this nature is necessarily complex given the current regulatory environment, our players should know that Full Tilt Poker is fully committed to paying them back in full and restoring confidence in our operations.

Noah Stephens-Davidowitz of Subject:Poker wrote a nice analysis of the statement and overall situation: click here to read.


PPA comes before poker media to take on the tough questions as often as possible, as the questions we receive at these interviews are representative of the issues in which the poker community is most interested. I hope you will find these interesting and informative:

Wicked Chops Podcast with John Pappas (09/07/2011)

Short Stacked Radio (9/6): I come on at time point 0:41:00

PokerGob Poker Show (9/4) (scroll down to “September 4th Poker Show”)

Thank you again!

Proud to play,

Rich Muny

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