Full Tilt Poker Refunds Expected by Late February
As many as 30,000 former American customers of Full Tilt Poker whose online bankrolls have remained in limbo for nearly three years are expected to receive refunds of their Black Friday balances by the end of February, according to Garden City Group (GCG), the Department of Justice-appointed claims administrator for the Full Tilt remission process.
The roughly 30,000 accounts are expected to receive a collective total of about $82 million when payments are released via electronic check (ACH), according to a brief statement issued late Friday by GCG on the website it maintains as a nexus for this process, FullTiltPokerClaims.com. Friday’s statement in full:
IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING PAYMENT TO PETITIONERS WHO CONFIRMED THEIR FTP ACCOUNT BALANCES
GCG has been informed that the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section has approved the first round of payments. This distribution will include approximately 30,000 Petitions totaling $82 million submitted by Petitioners with timely, complete Petitions, who confirmed their FTP Account Balances. GCG is currently working with the bank selected by the DOJ to set up the payment process. GCG expects to issue payments via ACH before the end of February 2014 and will post further updates on the payment process in 2-3 weeks.
The news is the first public announcement since shortly after the filing period for remission claims closed in mid-November. The statement corroborates a public posting made by Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas earlier in the week. Pappas and the PPA have served as an unofficial conduit for information on behalf of former US Full Tilters, communicating occasionally with the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, which is overseeing the process..
The $82 million expected to be refunded in the first wave is a bit less than $3,000 per refunded player, on average, though the typical refund is expected to be for a few hundred dollars. The $82 million total represents just over half of the approximately $160 million provided by PokerStars for refunds of US players, as part of PokerStars’ own 2012 settlement with the DOJ. Stars had no responsibility for the FTP balances but agreed to buy “almost all” assets of the old Full Tilt brand, including its non-US customer lists, and has relaunched a new Full Tilt for an international market.
The GCG notice clarifies that only former Full Tilt players who confirmed their balances as they existed on Full Tilt as of Black Friday will be refunded in the initial wave. This excludes several smaller categories of players whose claims are still being evaluated. Those categories include:
(1) Former players who disputed the balances that appeared in the information as provided by GCG. Typically, this was due to withdrawals made from the old Full Tilt which ere debited against players’ online balances but never actually received by the players;
(2) Former Full Tilt “red pros” and other sponsored players, who were initially disqualified under the DOJ’s remission rules under the guise of having had a business relationship with a fraudulent business — meaning the old Full Tilt. The status of these former sponsored players, many of whom had very minor deals, has been reconsidered;
(3) Former online and print affiliates of Full Tilt, whose accounts were tagged as such within the system, under the same business-relationship exception initially affecting the sponsored-pro category. These accounts and players are also under review, most likely on a case-by-case basis, wherein prominent Full Tilt partners may have difficulty recouping balances, but affiliates that generated little or no player business for the site may fare better.
GCG has not issued any information as to when these affected categories may receive hard news regarding their former account balances. Though some of these accounts may have large balances, sufficient money likely remains from the Stars asset purchase to pay balances in full for those accounts which are ultimately approved by the DOJ and GCG.