Although preceded by rumours, the largest news in the poker industry since Black Friday sent shockwaves yesterday when it was official that PokerStars reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning its legal troubles. PokerStars has dealt over 85 Billion poker hands but by far this deal was the company’s biggest hand played to date and the acquisition of troubled and “ponzi” plagued Full Tilt was the Ace up their sleeve needed to make this happen.
As a result of the settlement agreement between PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and the DOJ, players with funds tied up in Full Tilt are to be reimbursed the funds owed to them.
According to the DOJ, “victims” of the company’s alleged fraud in the United States will be able to seek compensation from the Department of Justice. PokerStars will pay $547 million over three years to the DOJ. Part of this settlement will be used to refund American players affected.
“We are pleased to announce these settlements by Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, which allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
According to a statement from PokerStars, Full Tilt’s new owner, the site will be reopened for business within 90 days of the formal close of the deal “within six days of the entrance of yesterday’s settlement” for Rest-of-World (ROW) players. ROW players are expected to be owed somewhere in the area of $184 million and Canadians fall into this player category.
Players from ROW will be able to log into their accounts and cash out their entire balances. Available cashout methods have not yet been announced.
Players will also have to option to play in the newly re-launched software but even under new PokerStars management, it is believed that many players are too bitter with the brand and former pros representing the brand.
PokerStars is also pursuing a solution that would allow all ROW players to transfer their balances from their Full Tilt account to a PokerStars account.
Since PokerStars also hold gambling licenses in several other European countries that regulate online poker, they are working with authorities in Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Estonia and Denmark to find a solution to allow players in those jurisdictions to withdraw their funds, as PokerStars is NOT planning to launch Full Tilt in regulated markets.
Players will then become classified as U.S., ROW regulated and ROW non-regulated for the purpose of issuing any payouts. The official classification will be determined by their verified address on file with Full Tilt as of June 29, 2011. Canadians would fall under ROW non-regulated and therefore the payment barriers should be more simplistic though they may not have the same protection as say clients in regulated jurisdictions. However, at this stage in the game, PokerStars cannot afford any breach of their agreement.
PokerStars has stated that they “intend to have a fair resolution for players with accumulated loyalty points and other rewards under the loyalty program.”