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Full Tilt Claims Processor Garden City Club Opens Remission Process

full-tilt-logoAs previously announced, Garden City Group, which was appointed by the US Department of Justice to be the claims administrator in charge of overseeing refunds paid to Full Tilt Poker’s former American players, announced today more details for the United States remission process and began mailing the first applications for petitions to players which had previous registered with them through the online site FullTiltPokerClaims.com.

GCG has said that the initial mailing of claims forms to these players will take place over the next two days, and on Wednesday, the claims administrator will begin to accept completed claims from players who have waited nearly nearly two and a half years for the chance to retrieve their former FTP bankrolls.

While many Full Tilters have already started to receive the application forms, many others have yet to do so, and those players must apply to GCG to receive the application form; that option will be made available on September 18th as well and does not yet appear on the GCG Full Tilt Claims site.

All categories of possible claimants must file their claims by November 16th, 2013, at which point the application process will be closed and GCG will start assessing the validity of those claims.  Former FTPers who believe the amount they will be provided as a refund is in error will have an option to protest, but will face significant documentary hurdles in trying to prove a case to GCG to change the pre-listed amount.

The latest release of details by GCG includes a bit more information on who will and who won’t be eligible for refunds.  As we noted last week, an internal GCG memo which was leaked into the poker world suggested that former US-based Full Tilt affiliates would not be paid; we have subsequently been reminded that international affiliates faced the same no-pay fate, as they were snubbed by PokerStars after Stars acquired the remaining assets of the original Full Tilt in 2012.

US affiliates, vendors and other people associated more closely with Full Tilt players are among those who may be stiffed in the GCG remissions process, though no one will no for sure until at least November 16th.  Another clue that these people will be frozen out came in today’s posting by GCG, specifically this entry:

16. What are the other requirements outlined in 28 C.F.R. § 9.8? 

28 C.F.R. § 9.8 is a certification requirement of the Department of Justice for victims of an offense underlying the forfeiture of property who are to be reimbursed. These specific requirements can be read by clicking here and generally provide that the victim has not already been compensated and was not involved in the offense.

That link details to an eligibility definition buried deep in the extensive United States codes regarding government-authorized remissions in fraud cases.  It’s subsection (3) of C.F.R. § 9.8 that now suggests FTP’s US-based affiliates, who were usually paid via deposits into Full Tilt player accounts, are likely to be left on the outside looking in:

(3) The victim did not knowingly contribute to, participate in, benefit from, or act in a willfully blind manner towards the commission of the offense, or related offense, that was the underlying basis of the forfeiture;

“Aye, there’s the rub.”

Reading this as a government attorney is likely to do, anyone who was deemed an affiliate in Full Tilt’s records — even those very unlucky souls who managed to pull strings and get themselves classified as self-affiliates to get a sweeter rakeback deal –will likely have to pay the piper.  Since the general purpose of being an affiliate was to promote Full Tilt and thus derive a secondary income from player referrals, and since Full Tilt itself was declared a fraud, these affiliate players are likely to be categorized as having received a “benefit from” that arrangement.  That’s going to be a problem.

I wish it wasn’t so.  A lot of otherwise innocent folks are likely to lose out on this one, but I fear that’s the business and legal reality.  The silver lining is that it’s only by the government declaring Full Tilt a fraudulent scheme that anyone is eligible to receive refunds at all.

While it’s not fun to see the government and GCG pocketing several extra tens of millions of dollars in unrefunded player balances, it is, sadly, the best that the players are likely to get.  (For the record, I have no horse in this matter; I wasn’t an FTP affiliate, and my own FTP account had something like 12 pennies in it on Black Friday.)

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