Full Tilt Poker Scandal: What’s Really Happening?


For those that still may be confused from the everlasting legal woes of Full Tilt Poker, we’re here at High Stakes Report to lay out a definitive timeline of what’s been going on, along with the details from both Full Tilt Poker, its correlated parties, and specific player opinions on all of these happenings.

From the beginning of Black Friday (April 15th, 2011), Full Tilt Poker has been involved in a class-action lawsuit by the U.S. District Attorney’s office, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), on counts of money laundering, illegal gambling and bank fraud.

Because of laws stated specifically by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, the regulations passed by the House, Senate and signed by George W. Bush stated online payment processors were not allowed to accept the transfer to or from U.S. bank accounts with the intention of online gambling.

Because of FTP and its payment processors’ ignorance of these laws, they had their domain names seized to prevent any further U.S. participation, but this decision also aided in giving each governmental body the time necessary to unravel the intricacies of FTP’s breach of law.

After months of litigation, in June, players had yet received the balances from their FTP accounts. After expressed frustration from the players in escrow, some owners and sponsored players of Full Tilt Poker, including Tom “durrrr” Dwan, stepped forward pledging to return all of the funds they’ve received from FTP in connection with their stake in the company.

Although this turn of events seemed promising, Phil Ivey, also a stakeholder in FTP, then filed a lawsuit in Nevada Clark County District Court against Tiltware LLC, the company which operates Full Tilt Poker. The lawsuit was set at $150 million, the debated sum of what players were due to be paid at the time of filing. Ivey later recanted his lawsuit.

On June 29th, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission states that they will be suspending their license with FTP indefinitely, until it can come to fruition with the terms of re-operation, and FTP’s long-term plan on re-issuing player funds.

During the time of July 26th, the AGCC attempts to discuss reasons why Full Tilt Poker has yet to pay back its players, and while FTP seemed to point to asset seizures by the U.S. Department of Justice as a primary benefactor, their initial meeting was adjourned “until no later than 15 September” because FTP admitted it needed time to secure an outside investor for liquidity within the company.

Rightfully so, player concern grew as FTP negotiations were delayed. However, in between the time of their first meeting and the meeting scheduled in September, FTP does pay its outstanding licensing fees to the AGCC (upwards of $250 million); one of the determining factors in its original license suspension.

Setting a date of September 15th to adjourn the meeting, weeks before the session, Full Tilt Poker releases statements mentioning that payment processors reportedly stole $42 million in assets from the company, and in addition to the money the DoJ seized, they’re trying their best to infuse money into the company to pay back players.

Despite comments, the AGCC was insistent on moving forward with negotiations on their September 15th meeting, but this date was never met due to the liability of public involvement, and as an effort for FTP to sign a lucrative contract with a European investor before commencement. Instead, it was pushed back to September 19th. Intending to hear FTP’s plan to return player money, as well as focus on the potential reinstatement of their license with FTP, it’s uncovered that owners have potentially defrauded players out of $300 million dollars.

In the upcoming weeks, in what was originally labeled a “global ponzi scheme,” the principal stakeholders of Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Rafe Furst and Ray Bitar are named as the primary beneficiaries of a scam that saw all owners of FTP paid upwards of $400 million. Uncovered by U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara, the civil complaint against FTP was amended by the lawyer, commenting that “insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited within the company.”

In the amended complaint, new penalties were assessed for each of the above individuals, correlating closely to their percentage of stake in FTP at the time of the committed fraud. $42 million, $41 million, $25 million and $12 million were the reported estimates of what each defendant would need to remit. In relation, several bank accounts belonging to each individual were also restricted to prevent further access to “property constituting or derived from proceeds traceable to violations of specific unlawful activities.”

After weeks of deliberation, the results of the September 19th meetings were released on September 29th, and FTP had its license officially revoked from the AGCC.

Stating that the company had “fundamentally misled” the AGCC in regards to its operational integrity, the revocation applied to the three companies of Vantage Limited, Oxalic Limited and Filco Limited; the trading companies of FTP. After their decision, the AGCC refuses to have any association with FTP, the return of player funds, or the organization of new management and stakeholders for the company.

Just days after license revocation, FTP signs an acquistion agreement with the Bernard Tapie Group, headed by Laurent Tapie, son of famous French businessman Bernard Tapie. Excited about the potential for turnaround within the company, Tapie wishes to claim 5-10% equity in the company, and have other potential investors contribute to the remainder of available ownership.

In the meantime and even currently, professional players have continued to come forward with their opinions on the likelihood of FTP paying its players back, along with the claims that the involved stakeholders were “in the know” about alleged corrupt practices with unsegregated player accounts and yearly stipends provided to the various owners. Dwan, Barry Greenstein, Doyle Brunson, and Patrik Antonius, all respected professionals, have been extremely helpful in uncovered much of the information that the public was dying to find out. Tweets, blog posts and even threads started on TwoPlusTwo have been beneficial.

Antonius, who has tried to stay out of the limelight as much as possible in regards to this issue, came forward recently to state that he has a lot to lose also, even more so than most of the players involved. Despite Antonius confirming a claim that his FTP account only contains $100, he let the public know that he still has much to worry about regardless of his FTP balance.

“A lot of people owe me a lot of money and if Full Tilt goes down completely it’s going to be very difficult for them to pay,” Antonius said.

This figure is estimated to lure around 5 million dollars by Antonius’ estimates.

Just like many of us, his money was held in limbo.

“Full Tilt would not let me cash out after Black Friday,” he said.

“I transferred what I had to people that wanted the online money, then the entire site went down and noone could get their money off. So the people I transferred the FTP money to are refusing to pay me because it’s stuck on the site and they don’t see it as real money.”

So if it’s any consolation, we all seem to be losing by the departure of Full Tilt Poker as a primary online poker site.

Hopefully this summary proved to be helpful, and we’ll update you as we receive more detailed information on the legal troubles of FTP.

Still have a fix to play online? Try Bodog Poker or 888 Poker.

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