The Unofficial Absolute Poker Remission Process FAQ
Time for more public-service work here at Flushdraw, as we return today to the topic of the recently announced remission, or refund, process for former players at the defunct Cereus Network sites Absolute Poker and UB.com (formerly known as UltimateBet).
On April 11th, when the plans to refund former Cereus Network players was announced, DOJ-appointed claims administrator Garden City Group published several pages of relevant information at the online home for the remission process. That site, at AbsolutePokerClaims.com, initially offered an excellent — but still incomplete — FAQ page dealing with many aspects of the program.
That FAQ page has since been updated to 36 separate points, each dealing with some aspect of who is eligible for refunds, and what steps they must take to official file. Even with that, though, there are still several hazy points, so we’re offering an alternative (and unofficial) FAQ to help clarify things for readers and former Cereus players.
Let’s dig in:
Are UltimateBet / UB.com account balances included in this process?
Absolutely. The initial confusion was caused by GCG’s original text having used inexact references to “Absolute Poker site” (or similar, such as “site”) instead of “Absolute Poker Network.” Or, to be even more precise, “Cereus Network.” GCG has since clarified that Ultimate Poker / UB.com accounts are included. The foolowing bullet point was just inserted in the FAQ page linked above:
15. Does this administration also include UltimateBet.com (UB.com) players?
Yes. The funds from UltimateBet.com are included in this process.
Absolute Poker (AP) also maintained a couple of other tiny skins. Players who had accounts on thos skins are also likely to find those accounts and balances included in this process.
Are ROW (“Rest Of World”) players eligible for these refunds?
Surprisingly, yes … even though this remission program is being run under the auspices of the US government. Again, a specific update within the FAQ:
14. I am a non-U.S. resident living abroad. Am I eligible to file a Petition?
Yes. This process includes both U.S. players and ROW (rest of world) players. On the Petition Identification screen on the online filing portal, non-U.S. residents should provide their address information after selecting the box for “I am a non-U.S. resident living abroad.” Non-U.S. residents providing their address on the Registration page should provide their non-U.S. address in the address fields provided.
However, GCG’s first go-around with a remission process for online-poker players, that regarding the original Full Tilt Poker, was specifically geared to the US. This meant that the technical process of setting up the refunds meant using structures already familiar within the US, from Americans’ social security (SSN) or employer identification (EIN) numbers, to the formats for electronic banking used within the US banking system.
Most other countries use different formats for personal identification purposes, or banking, and some countries don’t even have an equivalent to the US’s SSN. And that leads to the next point:
Since I’m not from the US and don’t have a social-security number, how can I use the AbsolutePokerClaims.com online form to view my account and approve a possible refund?
First, all overseas (non-US) accounts are likely to need individual vetting, and contact addresses and phone numbers for GCG are listed in multiple spots on the remission site. You’ll have to use them.
Second, it appears that even though the entry of an SSN number is required, the site isn’t actually checking them. Numerous international players have reported typing in a nine-digit number such as “000000000” and then being able to view their balances. If you do that, though, use something like that “000000000” entry, which is obviously an invalid number. Do not use a valid SSN number already belonging to a US citizen; that’s just asking for unwanted complications.
What about banking information? There’s nowhere to put that in. And will refunds be issued via wire transfer or some other format?
True enough. Despite earlier text asking claimants to provide their bank info, GCG has now updated the matter to specify that applicants will have to provide it a later date, but not as part of the initial application. The default payment method appears be ACH (online bank transfer), with physical cheques being issued as a backup.
Obviously, non-US players will need an extra level of information. The US uses something called a SWIFT code as an extra bank ID for international transfers, and other countries have similar, though the exact terminology may differ. Expect to need to provide that info as well, and it can be obtained from your bank.
I had multiple accounts at AP / UB, but I’m seeing only one balance? What do I do?
You’re likely to need to contact GCG to explain the issue, and then go from there. Players who have had one account each on AP and UB, and with those accounts not sharing matching screen-name and e-mail info, have been able to view and verify account balances by entering those differing screen-name/e-mail address combos in separate processes. Each verification of an existing balance in the files GCG is using, obtained from AP’s former execs, should generate a separate petition and control numbers.
But what about multi-accounters? There were lots of those, particularly on UB, which allowed any given player to use as many as 30 different screen names. It’s going to be up to you as a player to identify them all and provide the different screen names for each, along with the corresponding data such as e-mail addresses, and of course your persoanl information. Again, our advice here is unofficial, but we recommend gathering as much information as possible beforehand and then contacting GCG.
I hear that some players will be ineligible for refunds. Am I among them?
GCG has clarified that certain categories of player accounts will not be eligible for refunds. Those include accounts of the sites’ owners, direct business partners, sponsored players, affiliates and more. One good development: Rakeback payments won’t be included in that definition.
However, one topic still needing clarity is the declaration that “professional players” won’t be eligible for refunds. Such a term as “professional” could have several different meanings in the eye of the US government, who is really calling the shots. Will it be based on large balances and previously withdrawals from the sites? Will it include prop players, lists of whom for both AB and UP are almost certainly in the DOJ’s possession? We don’t know, but any players falling into these categories should start assembling related documentation.
What about loyalty points, tourney tickets and other player bonuses?
Forget it. They’re not included. It sucks is you were cash-poor on Black Friday but had a stash of such stuff waiting to be used, but that’s the way it works. Such bonus incentives are never reckoned as cash throughout the business world until they’re actually used, meaning they’ll be wiped from the books here?
Will we get 100% of our balances back?
GCG and the DOJ have offered no guarantees on that matter. The most optimistic players note that there’s roughly a $400 million difference between the total paid by PokerStars back in 2012 (not counting money set aside for international FTP players) to settle its own case with the DOJ, and the amount that’s been paid to date to refunded players in the lengthy US FTP remission process, about $118 million.
However, those optimists ignore that the largest chunk of the amount PokerStars paid was in the form of a fine paid to the DOJ (to the US government, if you will), that likely served as a replacement for back taxes the government might have claimed on revenue derived from US-based players. Whatever is left might be supplemented by some smallish amount of AP-related assets that have been forfeited to the US as well.
It’s simply, untrue, however, to claim that there’s lots of money and everyone will be fully refunded. Maybe so, but maybe not. One thing’s for sure: Players seeking a refund still need to file their remission applications by June 9th.