More than two years after the US government barred U.S. online poker players from playing on the Full Tilt Poker website, the chance of those players being reunited with the money that should have been in their players accounts, got a step closer today.
Garden City Group (GCG), the company chosen by the US Department of Justice to administer a remissions fund to repay U.S. players, began sending out notices to potentially millions of U.S players today, in which the players may file to be considered for compensation.
The website created by GCG, where those eligible for a possible remissions payment have been checking for months, has been updated, stating that emails have begun to be sent to victims of the fraud perpetrated by Full Tilt Poker and that eligible victims will be able to petition the U.S. Attorney General to recover their losses resulting from crimes of the original company.
The email process to eligible victims is expected to be completed in two days and beginning on Wednesday, September 18, those that received the emails can follow the instructions to submit a remissions claim. Those emails include instructions for players to view their account balances. If players believe they are eligible to participate in the process and do not receive an email, the can file a new petition with a link that will become available on the GCG website on September 18.
The Asset Forfeiture Money Laundering Section of the D.O.J., responsible for remissions, has decided that payments will be calculated based on the final balances in players accounts as of April 15, 2011. GCG has information received from Full Tilt Poker (prior to it’s forfeiture of all assets) and will assume those values of players accounts are valid. If a player, after receiving an email and accesses the information thru the link provided, agrees with the amount shown, he may submit the petition request. If they disagree with the amount shown, they can file a dispute, including documentation to support his claim.
If anyone believes they are due compensation from this remission but their name does not appear in data received from FTP (they will receive no email from GCG), they will be able to file a new petition, and will need to provide the amount of their FTP Account Balance through the Petition Filing site, and will need to submit documentation to substantiate their claimed FTP Account Balance.
The deadline for filing for this remission is November 16, 2013.
The GCG website includes a “Frequently Asked Qestions” link, which can be seen here.
Since at least April 15, 2011, a date known in online poker as “Black Friday”, U.S. players have been unable to recover the funds they had in their players accounts. The U.S. Attorneys Office, Southern District of New York, seized the Full Tilt Poker domain and shut down the site pending civil fofeiture charges, including criminal charges against several principles. Shortly after the action, the U.S. government gave permission to Full Tilt Poker to return the players money, but the company eventually admitted to no longer having the funds available to do so.
Additional charges were filed against Full Tilt Poker and its Board of Directors at the time, including fraud allegations, allowing players to be considered “victims”. The U.S. Attorney issued a statement in 2012 advising that the player “victims” will be eligible to request compensation via the remission process.
Full Tilt Poker, settling its civil suit with the U.S. D.O.J., forfeited its assets in mid 2012. PokerStars, another company cited in the Black Friday charges, also settled with the D.O.J. in 2012, admitting no wrongdoing, and agreed to acquire the FTP assets forwarded by the previous company. It is the money paid by PokerStars in their settlement that is allowing sufficient funds to be available to repay the victims. It is the Rational Group, owners of PokerStars, that now also owns and operates the “new” Full Tilt Poker online poker site. There is no ownership/management affiliation between the old Full Tilt Poker that was not able to repay its players, and the new Full Tilt Poker, owned by Rational.
PokerStars repaid its own U.S. players account balances in 2011 as soon as it was possible to do so. Full Tilt Poker players outside the U.S., known as “rest of world” players, were able to have access to their funds via the new ownership in Full Tilt Poker since November 2012.