It is reported in many popular news outlets that The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has reportedly revoked the primary license for the online poker site Full Tilt Poker this morning.
The Wall Street Journal reported just before noon (Eastern Time) that the AGCC decided that the ownership of what was the second largest online poker operation in the industry “fundamentally misled the AGCC about its (Full Tilt’s) funds.” Forbes.com points out some of the offenses that led to the revocation of the license in an official statement from the head of the AGCC.
CanadaPoker was able to obtain a copy of that statement, which doesn’t give much hope to players who have been affected by the shutdown of Full Tilt. According to the statement from Andre Wilsenach, the executive director of the AGCC, “Full Tilt Poker had fundamentally misled AGCC about their operational integrity by continuously reporting as liquid funds balances that had been covertly seized or restrained by U. S. authorities, or that were otherwise not actually available to the operator. Serious breaches of AGCC regulations include false reporting, unauthorized provision of credit, and failure to report material events.”
The revocation of the license means that, for all practical purposes, Full Tilt Poker is dead. There are still questions, however, as to how the players who still have money on the site will be handled. For his part, Wilsenach seemed to not care about the players or the site’s future.
As to the rumors that the site was looking to be sold and that a revocation would irrevocably damage the company, Wilsenach said in the statement, “It is important to note that the revocation of Full Tilt Poker’s licenses does not, as has been suggested, prevent a reactivation of the business under new ownership and management.” Full Tilt had asked the AGCC to issue a continuance to allow them to negotiate with an alleged French buyer, but the AGCC felt that there had been enough time and that it was in the public and players’ interest to not delay the decision any further.
When it comes to the players, Wilsenach did not provide a lifeline either, suggesting that it was out of the AGCC’s hands and in the hands of law enforcement and the courts. “Unresolved claims by players against Full Tilt Poker become a matter for the police and civil authorities,” Wilsenach said in the statement to the media. “Now that Full Tilt Poker’s licenses have been revoked, AGCC no longer has jurisdiction over these companies.”
The Full Tilt Poker saga has played out over the last five months, captivating the online gaming industry, and was a devastating blow to Americans who played on the site. After pulling out of the U. S. market following the “Black Friday” indictments in April, Full Tilt Poker was able to continue serving international players until their AGCC license was revoked in June. After the continuation of their contentious public hearing in July until this month’s private hearing, Full Tilt Poker was looking for a buyer and looking to continue on in the industry.
This was before the April 15 indictments were amended last week with considerable drama.
In the amended complaint filed last week by Preet Bharara, the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara alleged that Full Tilt Poker was a “Ponzi scheme” that defrauded players out of $443 million. In amending the complaint, Bharara added poker professionals Howard Lederer, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Rafe Furst to the list of companies and individuals named in the indictment. Bharara alleges that most of the $443 million went to pay the board of directors, of which Lederer, Ferguson and Furst were allegedly parts of, and other executives in the company.
Although the AGCC license is dead, this doesn’t mean that the Full Tilt Poker story is over. There are possibilities that the current ownership could get another gaming license with another regulatory agency (highly unlikely given the current “black mark” against the group) or that, once a sale is completed, the new ownership can submit an application for a license (which could take up to three months). There is also the question of the money owed to players and how, with their business destroyed, the powers that be behind Full Tilt Poker will ever come up with hundreds of millions of dollars.