On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice came to an agreement with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to facilitate player cashouts by returning their dot-com domain names for that purpose. When the checks will start rolling out remains to be seen, as a press release issued by Full Tilt cautioned, “There exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds.”
So, if that is true, then how is PokerStars paying out to US players and has been for weeks? Sounds like bullshit to me. Read on:
Full Tilt elaborated why its current predicament with the Department of Justice makes it difficult to return player finances, even with the government’s blessing: “Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players. Finally, there are numerous legal and jurisdictional issues that must be considered before poker winnings can be paid out to players throughout the United States.”
Despite the lack of an authorized payment channel and a possible dearth of funds to pay with, Full Tilt noted that it was looking forward to partnering with the Department of Justice: “Notwithstanding these issues, Full Tilt Poker is ready to work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to try and resolve these issues and to get players their money back as soon as possible.”
At the time of writing, Full Tilt Poker’s dot-com domain still bears the familiar FBI warning. Instead of featuring an intimidating image of Phil Ivey, Full Tilt’s website now houses FBI and Department of Justice logos along with lingo about jail time and United States code. When it will contain information about player cashouts is not yet known.
Also weighing in on its agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice was PokerStars, which commented in a press release on Wednesday, “All PokerStars player deposits are completely safe. The Isle of Man’s strict licensing laws (similar to other jurisdictions where PokerStars holds licenses) require all funds to be held in accounts that are segregated from company assets.”
An FAQ posted for U.S. players added that cashouts could begin in the near future: “Cashouts for U.S. residents are expected to be available within several weeks. To request a cashout, simply log into your PokerStars account, click on ‘Cashier,’ and then click on ‘Cash Out.’ You will then see your available cashout methods and can select the one that is appropriate for you.”
Tournament Tickets and T$ will be converted into their cash equivalents, according to PokerStars, and the site is deciding into the proper course of action to follow for the redemption of Frequent Player Points. As it stands now, U.S. players on PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UB.com, and Absolute Poker are unable to transfer funds to other players for cashouts.
Shortly after last Friday’s online poker indictments, Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond and Full Tilt Poker pro Tom “durrrr” Dwan each guaranteed $1 million in payouts from Full Tilt and PokerStars over Twitter. Galfond wrote, “Everyone is panicking too much (tho I understand). We are extremely likely to be paid our $. I’ll guarantee $1M in payouts from FTP/Stars.” Dwan responded, “Agreed. I’ll match it. Now gonna go get drunk and complain about the DOJ.”
Meanwhile, poker players were disappointed that a Facebook town hall meeting hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon failed to touch on the recent indictments. The online poker community bombarded the event’s Facebook page with requests for comment, but Obama did not touch on the issue. Dwan was among the many poker pros watching the virtual meeting on Wednesday.
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