Today’s hearing in London between Full Tilt Poker and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, which was expected to determine the fate of the formerly popular online poker site, has been suspended until September 15.
The hearing, which began Tuesday morning an hour past its scheduled start time of 10AM (London time) at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, was crowded with not only the media but also several online players looking for answers to many questions. Approximately 150 people were in attendance for the hearing but, upon the start of the proceedings, those in attendance were told there would be no questions asked by the gathered media or the populace.
The hearing started with Full Tilt Poker’s representing attorney, Martin Heslop of the firm Jeffrey Green Russell, immediately requesting to take the proceedings into private session. In making his application for a private hearing, Heslop stated that the public nature of the action could have an effect not only on continuing negotiations for Full Tilt as a property but also would adversely affect customers. The motion was initially denied by the AGCC and, for a time, the hearing proceeded as planned.
Although it was believed by many that the suspension of Full Tilt’s gaming license was due to their failure to pay American players after the actions of “Black Friday,” it soon became apparent that there was a more AGCC-centric reason. It was announced during the hearing that Full Tilt Poker owes approximately $400,000 to the AGCC for licensing fees and said fees have yet to be paid. This doesn’t blend with the original statement of the AGCC, which said it suspended the license due to the actions of the company following April 15.
Heslop stated that the fees could be paid “within seven days” if the AGCC agreed to hold the hearings in private at a later date and that Full Tilt would have the possibility of regaining their gaming license. Without these assurances, Heslop stated that there would be no reason to pay the licensing fee for something they couldn’t regain.
At this time, a recess was taken in the hearing and the gathered media and citizens were ushered out of the conference room. Talks continued in private for several hours and, late this afternoon London time, it was announced by the AGCC that “in the interest of justice” that the hearing was suspended until September 15. If there are circumstances that arise, the AGCC states that they could hold the hearing at an earlier time.
The AGCC stated that part of the reason for the suspension of the hearing was to give Full Tilt Poker more time to line up possible investors in the company that would allow it to meet its obligations internationally, especially the United States. These negotiations, the AGCC believes, would better serve the players who have been affected by the departure of Full Tilt Poker from the online gaming industry.
The results of the hearing have left many less than enthused about what will happen with Full Tilt Poker and even more displeased with the AGCC. In attendance at the hearing, poker professional Harry Demetriou caused a ruckus when he asked why the AGCC was protecting Full Tilt Poker and not the players. He was shown the door as a result of his outburst, but the crowd in attendance seemed to be in agreement with Demetriou.
The postponement answers none of the questions that the AGCC was there to investigate. The abbreviated hearing offered nothing to the poker community and, perhaps even more angering, leaves the possibility that the current ownership of Full Tilt could actually get back in the game with a simple payout to the AGCC. Whether the reconvened hearing sometime between now and September 15 will provide any closure to the poker world is unknown.