One of the continuing dramas during this summer has been the travails of Full Tilt Poker, the former number two site in the online poker industry that was shuttered back in June. Tomorrow, the embattled online site will be meeting with their overseers in either its rebirth or its swan song.
One of the businesses affected by “Black Friday” – the United States Department of Justice’s crackdown on online gaming – Full Tilt Poker chugged along for nearly two months before the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, the organization that holds the licensing for Full Tilt to operate, revoked said license in late June. The AGCC revocation was followed by the French gaming authority ARJEL suspending Full Tilt’s operating license, an action which prevents the company from operating in France’s segregated gaming community.
Following a review of the company’s operations and – more than likely – a spate of complaints from American customers that have yet to be paid, the AGCC took their unprecedented action against Full Tilt, shutting the site down. Now, the epilogue of this story will take place tomorrow at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel in London, the United Kingdom.
The action tomorrow was ordered by the AGCC after revoking Full Tilt’s license back on June 29. At the time of the revocation, the AGCC issued a statement saying, “The decision to suspend these licenses follows a special investigation prompted by the indictments unsealed by the U. S. Attorney General’s Office in the Southern District of New York on 15 April 2011, during which grounds were found to indicate that these licensees and their business associates were operating contrary to Alderney legislation.”
There are several subjects that may come up during the meeting, which will begin at 10AM London time (5AM Eastern). First and foremost for the AGCC will be determining if Full Tilt has brought their house back into order under the AGCC regulations. Second will be the continuing difficulties of the former online giant to pay back its U. S. customers, something that is more than likely what caused the shutdown in the first place. Finally, there may be action that the current owners of the Full Tilt brand are selling off the operation to another ownership group.
The first part of the equation is completely at the whim of the AGCC reviewers. The second and third parts are intrinsically tied together. Would the AGCC allow a company under their watch to operate when they have failed to pay out a sizeable portion of their customer base? Without a defined plan to settle their issues with their American patrons – as well as the legal case through the U. S. Department of Justice – the AGCC may decide that Full Tilt cannot be trusted to operate fairly in the international gaming community.
The selling of Full Tilt to another gaming entity has been bandied about for nearly a month now. On July 1, the Los Angeles Times reported that “a group of European investors” was set to purchase the besieged online site, but nothing further came from that report. Recently, a new rumor emerged that the potential buyers were looking at buying just the European assets of Full Tilt, leaving the issues with the U. S. government and paying back American players to the current operators. This would probably not sit well with the AGCC and the order of revocation on Full Tilt’s gaming license would most likely stay in place.
Finally, there would be the issue of mismanagement of Full Tilt Poker that led to their current situation. Unlike another site that was charged in the “Black Friday” indictments, PokerStars, there were no regulations put in place that required FTP to segregate customer funds from business operations. PokerStars, which is licensed in the Isle of Man, was required by the Isle of Man regulators to keep players’ money and operational funds separate and, as a result, was able to pay off American customers soon after the U. S. government seizure of the site.
Will tomorrow’s hearing between the AGCC and Full Tilt Poker result in the return of the online site to the industry? If so, will players return to the site after the issues that have come out? For American players, will payment of their funds be forthcoming? Tomorrow’s hearing will have an impact on the online poker community as the “New World Order” of poker is established.