After five months of turmoil – including indictments in the courts of the United States and Canada, the suspension of their gaming license and its eventual revocation – the currently shuttered online poker site Full Tilt Poker reported Friday afternoon that a deal has been struck to sell the beleaguered company to a French investment group.
PokerStrategy.com broke the news yesterday in a statement from Full Tilt that announced that the French investment organization Groupe Bernard Tapie had signed “an exclusive agreement” with the current board of directors to acquire the company and its assets. The potential purchase, which was alluded to during hearings in September and offered as a reason for the Full Tilt license to not be revoked, will allow the company to pay off players worldwide who want their money and, in particularly, in the United States, where the company is facing several legal hurdles. There are a few caveats to the deal, however.
The first hurdle would be a settlement of the current legal situation in the United States. This may be a bit difficult as there are several layers that the new French ownership would have to close to move forward with the sale. Along with paying American players, there would have to be negotiations with the U. S. Department of Justice to close the current legal case, something that prosecutors may not be willing to do.
In addition to the closure of those suits, there would probably be a fine against the company; using the example of Anurag Dikshit’s involvement with PartyPoker from a suit in 2008, the fine could total up to $300 million. Meetings with the U. S. Department of Justice could take place as soon as this coming week.
The managing director of Groupe Bernard Tapie, Laurent Tapie, stated in an interview with iGaming France that he “wouldn’t have undertaken such a project if he didn’t believe in its potential.” Tapie cited the technology of the company (i.e., its software) and its formerly pristine reputation as reasons to purchase Full Tilt. “I believe we have the tools necessary to once again make the site one of the leaders in the industry,” Tapie stated to iGaming France.
When the site would make a comeback has been a question that players have asked. Tapie said in the iGaming France interview that it could be as soon as January of next year, although there are several obstacles before such a return to the industry.
Discussion about the reported sale has been met with elation – and a bit of concern – on the poker message boards at Two Plus Two. While many have been excited about the possibilities of players receiving their money from Full Tilt, others are tempering their excitement with concerns over the future discussions with the U. S. Department of Justice and the uphill climb that Groupe Bernard Tapie face in bringing the site back to full power. Other posters still have a great deal of venom for the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, the regulatory body that revoked Full Tilt’s license on Thursday.
Poster “antneye” wrote after the announced deal, “Hoping this turns out to be an epic “We’ve got our monies” thread,” and was echoed by “randompokerplayer” who said, “Wow, unexpected but great, let’s hope they can work out a deal.” Some note that the discussions with the DoJ could provide roadblocks, with poster “AlrightyRoo” asking, “What is a ‘favorable’ outcome with the DoJ?” Finally, many still hold a grudge against the AGCC, with poster “TheJacob” stating, “If true, I hope the AGCC gets hit by a meteor. They tried their hardest to make sure we didn’t get paid.”
While it may be time for a subdued celebration, it is plainly apparent that there are still several obstacles before we see a reborn Full Tilt Poker, under the auspices of the Groupe Bernard Tapie, back in the online poker game.