On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a deal with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to begin the process of paying out players affected by last week’s indictments. Although a significant number of questions are still left unanswered, the process of paying out money owed to U.S. customers on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker appears to have begun.
A Department of Justice press release read in part, “This office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate.”
As part of the agreement, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will each regain use of their primary domain names, PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com, respectively. For what purpose, you ask? The release continues, “The agreements allow for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to use the pokerstars.com and fulltiltpoker.com domain names to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players’ funds held in accounts with the companies.”
In return, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker agreed to stop taking U.S. action, although both sites effectively did so last Friday within hours of the indictments against the owners of both sites. In addition, PokerStars and Full Tilt agreed to stop accepting U.S. player deposits going forward.
We’ve had readers ask whether it’s safe to play on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker if they’re located outside of the United States. To that end, the same Department of Justice press release gave the green light: “The agreements do not prohibit, and, in fact, expressly allow for, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to provide for, and facilitate, players outside of the United States to engage in playing online poker for real money.”
Returning the funds doesn’t appear to be an open and shut case. Within minutes of the Department of Justice announcing the deal, Full Tilt Poker commented in a press release obtained by Poker News Daily, “As a result of the recent enforcement action, there exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds; Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government; and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players.”
The founders of Absolute Poker were also indicted as part of the government’s actions last Friday, so how come a deal with the CEREUS Network wasn’t announced today? The U.S. Department of Justice revealed that another accord could be unveiled very soon: “The government stands to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker if it so chooses.”
At the time of writing, PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com continue to display the FBI warning that popped up last week.
The indictments by the U.S. Department of Justice last week sent the online poker world spiraling. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker vacated the U.S. market and have since moved their operations to PokerStars.eu and FullTiltPoker.co.uk, respectively. Absolute Poker can now be found at AbsolutePoker.eu, while UB set up shop at UBPoker.eu. The two CEREUS Network sites continue to accept U.S. action, but are not allowing U.S. players to deposit, transfer, or cash out.
Despite the laundry list of questions still up in the air, the Poker Players Alliance applauded the Department of Justice’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The lobbying group commented on Wednesday, “Online poker players have been the true victims of the DoJ’s action, and it is good to see the DoJ recognizing that fact and working with Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars to get players their money. Yet, the fight to protect American’s freedom to play poker online is not over.”
Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest.