Mixed News for Former Full Tilt Poker Affiliates, Pros in Remission Update
Garden City Group, the DOJ-appointed claims administrator overseeing as much as $160 million to former US-based customers of Full Tilt Poker, has issued two more updates further clarifying the status of FTP’s former affiliates and sponsored pros. After considerable examination by GCG and the DOJ, these two categories of players are likely to receive partial refunds of their “Black Friday” Full Tilt balances.
In addition, and as expected based on other remission processes overseen by the US government, players who have outstanding governmental debt (tax liens, court judgments, etc.) will find their potential FTP refunds reduced by the amount that they owe elsewhere.
The former FTP affiliates and pros were addressed in a Friday update published at GCG’s official online portal for the remission process, FullTiltPokerClaims.com. That update:
INFORMATION REGARDING NOTIFICATION TO AFFILIATES AND PROS
On January 31, 2014, GCG sent approximately 8,400 Notices to Petitioners who were identified as Affiliates by Full Tilt Poker (“FTP”). The Notices provided information and instructions for participating in the Petition process. If you received an email Notice, please be sure to use the logon credentials provided in the Notice when you begin the Petition process.
The deadline for Affiliates to submit a Petition for Remission is March 2, 2014.
Please be advised that a review is still underway concerning those players who were flagged by FTP as Pros. Once this review is complete, a separate notice will be sent to Pros who are deemed eligible to file a Petition for Remission and they will have 30 days from the date of the notice to file a Petition.
The 8,400 notices represents a sizeable portion of the former Full Tilt US accounts still seeking refunds. Roughly 30,000 other FTP accounts had been approved by GCG in the remission process’s initial phase. However, many of the 8,400 affiliate and pro TP accounts are believed to contain some of the largest balances that existed on the site before Black Friday, and thus could represent a disproportionate share of the money that’s still up for grabs, as much as $80 million.
Affiliates and former FTP pros posting on poker forums and social media quickly provided examples of the new notices being sent, and in the process revealed a hidden catch: Any in-site transfers at FTP that appear to have involved an “affiliate” entity in any form appear to have been deducted from the balances GCG claims is due the affected players.
Dozens of posters quickly showed examples of their online petition balances at GCG appearing with amounts that were tens of thousands of dollars less than what the players themselves believed they had online. The discrepancies and rules, which do not appear to be uniform in the way they were applied across the former FTP “affiliate base” — meaning any account that was tagged as “affiliate” within FTP’s own system — appear destined to kick off another lengthy round of disputes over how refunds are calculated.
One of the categories most at risk appears to be players who negotiated their own rakeback deals with the old Full Tilt. Full Tilt freely gave out rakeback deals valued at 27% to thousands of players who were either good customers or had private connections to the site, but Full Tilt appears to have been lazy in how they tracked these players, merely tagging them as “affiliates” in order to active in-system eligibility for the rakeback. Full Tilt’s systematic laziness may now exact a serious price from affected players, to the tune of several tens of millions of dollars.
Since GCG is likely expecting thousands of protests over the withheld funds, they e-mailed instructions for filing disputes to the thousands of affected players in conjunction with the latest update. Here’s one such letter:
TO: United States Full Tilt Poker Players Who Were Victims of Full Tilt Poker’s Fraud
PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE NOTICE CONCERNING SETTLEMENTS WITH FULL TILT POKER (“FTP”) AND POKERSTARS. IT IS TIME-SENSITIVE AND MAY AFFECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS. IF YOU SATISFY THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA DESCRIBED BELOW, YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO PAYMENT. YOU CAN ALSO VISIT WWW.FULLTILTPOKERCLAIMS.COM FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.
I. Purpose of this Notice
The purpose of this Notice is to inform you that you may be entitled to receive a distribution from the assets forfeited by Full Tilt Poker (the “FTP Fund”), which resulted from the settlement agreement resolving the allegations in the amended civil forfeiture complaint in United States v. PokerStars, et al., 11 Civ. 2564 (LBS), pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (the “Action”). You must complete the online Petition filing process in accordance with the steps in this Notice in order to be potentially eligible to share in the distribution from the FTP Fund. This Notice is being sent to all potentially eligible victims of FTP’s fraud who were identified as Affiliates by FTP. Affiliates may submit a Petition for Remission to recover the portion of their account balance that does not relate to their Affiliate status. If you were deemed to be an Affiliate, you will be able to submit a Petition for the portion of your account balance that relates to poker transactions, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria. As explained in greater detail below, Petitions for Remission must be completed online through the administration website at www.FullTiltPokerClaims.com.
THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT A PETITION FOR REMISSION IS MARCH 2, 2014. IF YOU FAIL TO SUBMIT A TIMELY AND COMPLETE PETITION FOR REMISSION, YOU WILL BE BARRED FROM RECEIVING A PAYMENT FROM THE FTP FUND. WHEN FILING ONLINE, YOU MUST USE THE NUMBERS BELOW IN ORDER TO BEGIN THE PETITION PROCESS:
Petition Number: (removed)
The key sentence from the above appears to be this: “Affiliates may submit a Petition for Remission to recover the portion of their account balance that does not relate to their Affiliate status.” The reverse of that: Funds that have been linked to affiliate transactions have been declared ineligible for refunds.
As for outstanding governmental debts, GCG issued a second notice explaining that any FTP refunds would be automatically reduced by amounts due to the government in other matters. That notice was directed to the 30,000 or so non-affiliate and non-pro filers who had already been approved, meaning that a duplicate statement will likely be mailed to the affiliates and pros in a few months.
INFORMATION REGARDING NOTIFICATION TO PETITIONERS WITH APPROVED PETITIONS
On January 29, 2014, GCG emailed notices to certain Petitioners who confirmed their FTP Account Balances and are eligible for payment, but who have a delinquent debt qualifying for collection through the Treasury Offset Program. Payments for these Petitioners will be reduced in order to satisfy their debt in part or in whole. To receive the balance of their payment, these Petitioners must complete a Unified Financial Management System Vendor Request Form, which was attached to the email, and return it to GCG within 30 days. Specific questions regarding outstanding debts and offset amounts cannot be addressed by the Department of Justice or GCG. To obtain information on your individual debt, you must contact the Treasury Offset Program at (800)-304-3107 or visit www.fms.treas.gov/debt/top.html for additional information.