After almost ten days of silence following a hearing, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has reportedly revoked the primary license for the online poker site Full Tilt Poker this morning, according to several reputable news outlets.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the AGCC decided that the ownership of what was the second largest online poker operation in the industry “fundamentally misled the AGCC about its (Full Tilt’s) funds.” Forbes.com points out some of the offenses that led to the revocation of the license in an official statement from the head of the AGCC.
According to a statement from Andre Wilsenach, the executive director of the AGCC, “Full Tilt Poker had fundamentally misled AGCC about their operational integrity by continuously reporting as liquid funds balances that had been covertly seized or restrained by U. S. authorities, or that were otherwise not actually available to the operator. Serious breaches of AGCC regulations include false reporting, unauthorised provision of credit, and failure to report material events.”
The decision by the AGCC came after six days of hearings this month and back in July, when Full Tilt Poker was able to get a continuation of the hearing. It also was able to get the hearings, which were held in public in London in July, to be held in private, supposedly so that any potential negotiations with investors or buyers wouldn’t be impacted.
The revocation of the license means that, for all practical purposes, Full Tilt Poker is dead. There are still questions, however, as to how the players who still have money on the site will be handled. For his part, Wilsenach seemed to not care about the players or the site’s future.
As to the rumors that the site was looking to be sold and that a revocation would irrevocably damage the company, Wilsenach stated, “It is important to note that the revocation of Full Tilt Poker’s licenses does not, as has been suggested, prevent a reactivation of the business under new ownership and management.” Full Tilt had asked the AGCC to issue a continuance to allow them to negotiate with an alleged French buyer, but the AGCC felt that there had been enough time and that it was in the public and players’ interest to not delay the decision any further.
When it comes to the players, Wilsenach did not provide a lifeline, suggesting that it was out of the AGCC’s hands. “Unresolved claims by players against Full Tilt Poker become a matter for the police and civil authorities,” Wilsenach said in the statement to the media. “Now that Full Tilt Poker’s licenses have been revoked, AGCC no longer has jurisdiction over these companies.”
The Full Tilt Poker saga has transfixed the online gaming industry and was a devastating blow to Americans who played on the site. After pulling out of the U. S. market following the “Black Friday” indictments in April, Full Tilt Poker was able to continue serving international players until their AGCC license was revoked in June. The April 15 indictments were amended last week with considerable drama.
In the amended complaint filed last week by Preet Bharara, the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara alleged that Full Tilt Poker was a “Ponzi scheme” that defrauded players out of $443 million. In amending the complaint, Bharara added poker professionals Howard Lederer, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Rafe Furst to the list of companies and individuals named in the indictment. Bharara alleges that most of the $443 million went to pay the board of directors, of which Lederer, Ferguson and Furst were allegedly a part of, and other executives in the company.
Reaction to the revocation is flooding the poker message boards. At Two Plus Two, the wrath of players is not just directed at Full Tilt but also surprisingly at the AGCC for not giving Full Tilt the time to complete their sale. “So stupid they couldn’t wait one more week,” poster “Ditch Digger” stated. Other players are furious at the AGCC for not previously protecting the players when Full Tilt Poker first started having trouble.
Although the AGCC license is dead, this doesn’t mean that the Full Tilt Poker story is over. There are possibilities that the current ownership could get another gaming license with another regulatory agency (highly unlikely given the current “black mark” against the group) or that, once a sale is completed, the new ownership can submit an application for a license (which could take up to three months). There is also the question of the money owed to players and how, with their business destroyed, the powers that are behind Full Tilt Poker will ever come up with hundreds of millions of dollars.