According to an article published by a reputable news source, the U.S. Department of Justice has unfrozen a bank account belonging to online poker giant Full Tilt Poker and co-founder Ray Bitar. The bank account is located at the Bank of Ireland and is one of several bank accounts that were frozen last month when indictments were served to 11 individuals associated with operating online poker in the United States.
A source inside Full Tilt Poker released the information to the publication and confirmed that the online poker site has one out of the nine bank accounts unfrozen representing a third of the estimated $100-$150 million still owed to U.S. players.
The source further revealed that Full Tilt Poker management for the past three weeks has been trying to raise additional funds from investors in return for stakes in the company. Full Tilt is believed to have tried to raise up to $150 million, however, so far without any luck.
The source also commented on statements from the U.S. Department of Justice, who claimed that one indictee, Bradley Franzen who pleaded guilty last week, has admitted to have been approached by Full Tilt to help with a $60 million shortfall, created by the company’s inability to find a payment processor to process transactions involving U.S. player accounts.
This shortfall appeared as Full Tilt continued to credit funds to player accounts despite being unable to actually debit the funds from costumers, the source explained.
“Normally Full Tilt would cover that and take that loss, but because all their banks got shut down there was no way of doing that until recently when the government agreed to unfreeze the Bank of Ireland account,” he said.
The source also commented that the pending payouts to U.S. players presents a complex issue and simply because accounts are unfrozen does not mean that cashouts can easily be processed.
“There are a lot of factors involved. Some of that is the $60 million backlog referenced in the Franzen case, some is the bank accounts that voluntarily decided to restrain funds, and some is the status of negotiations with the Southern District,” he said.
“All of those issues together contribute to creating an impediment to paying players back, an impediment which wouldn’t be there if each of those things didn’t exist,” he added.
We just need to wait and see how this will play out but what does this mean for Canadian poker players? In such instances where a site is known to be having financial difficulties, players really need to be cautious as to how much money they have in deposit on these rooms because there exists the possibility that other player funds are being used to pay off debts in the interim. The sites are already having difficulties paying out the players and have not yet even started a payment process for the $1 Billion in fines demanded by the DoJ which would surely add an unbearable financial pressure to the company.