As the hearings with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) hit an unprecedented fourth day, there is a great deal of confusion, outrage and even support for Full Tilt Poker and their current licensing situation.
From the start of the hearings on Monday, there has been no information that has come out due to the “in camera” (or private) nature of the gathering between the AGCC and Full Tilt Poker. At stake for the online site is its online gaming license, which was suspended by the AGCC on June 29. This seemed to change yesterday, however, amid a flurry of speculation in the poker media and on message boards.
Several outlets have reported that the AGCC will make a determination today that the gaming license for Full Tilt will be permanently suspended, while other outlets state that the meetings are continuing. As the meetings on Wednesday were drawing to a close, a statement from the lead attorney for Full Tilt, Jeff Ifrah, sparked a blitzkrieg of discussion on one of the top poker message boards in the community.
An acquaintance of Ifrah, a poster named “bbfg” on the Two Plus Two forum, asked him how the hearings were going and, if they weren’t going well, what he could post to potentially affect the AGCC’s decision. Ifrah gave him a statement to post, which read:
“Right now it is important to encourage the AGCC to delay any ruling for a minimum of 30 days in order to permit a timely transition to a new ownership structure. The AGCC is aware of the identity of the new ownership group. It does not involve anyone associated in the slightest way with the current FTP membership. I plead with all of you to do this and unite in this one effort.”
“A negative AGCC ruling will cause all efforts that have been undertaken to secure this investor group to fail and leave customers in the cold,” Ifrah is quoted by “bbfg.” “It is not necessary for the AGCC to issue any negative ruling now. The company is not operating and there are investors truly interested in closing a deal with the company. I can assure you that the investor deal includes repayment of ALL player obligations. We have come too far in these months since Black Friday to let this fall apart now. Please.”
This statement ignited a firestorm of discussion among the members of 2+2. It seemed it was almost evenly divided on both sides of the issue, with some members deciding it was a “freeroll” to send a supportive message. The logic behind that opinion was that, at this moment, players aren’t receiving any money with Full Tilt inactive. If a buyer is pending, then a slight delay could change the situation and get players paid worldwide.
“Regardless of whether the investor exists or not, it’s still in our best interest to get this extended,” poster “VarianceMinefield” stated in the thread. Another poster named “gnvsnnkv” agreed, stating, “We might as well postpone the verdict for a month. I’m fully behind the idea of urging AGC for more time!”
The opposition to Ifrah’s request was quite vociferous. In these members’ view, Full Tilt Poker has had long enough since “Black Friday” (over five months) to get their house in order. Another month, in these posters’ opinion, wouldn’t change anything that has happened nor would it have an effect on players getting their money back.
“I don’t necessarily believe an extension would get me my money back,” poster “Peter Popoff” opined. “They’ve spent the last five months lying and skewing facts. I feel like this is the tenth time they’ve had an investor that was inches away from a deal. I’d need more information before I’d take any action.” Another poster, “LetsGambool,” offered his thoughts in posting his opposition: “I think it’s equally likely that there is no deal and FTP uses the extension to siphon off whatever recovery value remains for creditors. Unless this transition involves some sort of caretaker stepping in to run the company for creditors under the supervision of a real court and all current ownership of FTP giving up their stakes, count me out.”
Over the span of more than 1000 posts, players have debated the issue as of this morning. Included in the debate over the Ifrah request was discussion on whether the major players at Full Tilt should face criminal charges, exactly who the potential buyer would be and whether the statement by the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara that Full Tilt was a “Ponzi scheme” was accurate. As you can tell, the debate still rages on this morning.
What hasn’t happened is any decision by the AGCC as to the future of Full Tilt’s license. If the investor is able to come through and the AGCC believes that it can resuscitate the beleaguered company, then we may see another continuation. If the AGCC doesn’t believe Full Tilt – and the timing of the U. S. Department of Justice’s amended complaint on Tuesday could be a deciding factor – then the online industry may have seen the last of Full Tilt Poker and players will still be trying to retrieve their money.