In what turned out to be a tumultuous Wednesday, the parent company of the Heartland Poker Tour and the Epic Poker League, Federated Sports & Gaming, announced that they had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In a brief message on the FS&G website Wednesday afternoon, former World Series of Poker commissioner Jeffrey Pollack announced the decision by the company in saying, “Our company needs a new start,” and reporting the company’s filing for bankruptcy protection. The decision to file for Chapter 11 puts on hold the inaugural season of the Epic Poker League, which had delayed its fourth tournament and its $1 million freeroll event from earlier this year due to the glut of tournament poker around the world. Pollack states that Commissioner Annie Duke sent a letter yesterday to qualified players of the EPL to explain the situation and states “it is our full intention to complete Season One of the EPL.”
The Chapter 11 filing does not spell the end of FS&G or its various components, however. As pointed out accurately by poker pro Matt Glantz on his blog, Chapter 11 bankruptcy means that the company can reorganize its debts and continue on. If, after an unspecified but reasonable amount of time the company fails to do that, then the more ominous Chapter 7 bankruptcy (where assets are liquidated) comes into play.
Pollack cites the dedication of the FS&G team as the reason for the Chapter 11 filing. “Everyone on our talented team – employees, contractors and partners alike – has put their hearts into this business,” Pollack writes in his message. “The (reorganization under Chapter 11) is, in part, about honoring their work.” Such notable poker journalists as Michael Craig, Jennifer Newell, Jay Newnum and Allen “AlCantHang” Rash, among others, were a part of the FS&G reporting team.
The bankruptcy filing should have no effect on the other assets of FS&G, according to Pollack. “Our goal is to keep the Epic Poker League and all of our key initiatives – the Global Poker Index, epicpoker.com, the Epic Poker game on Facebook and the Heartland Poker Tour – moving forward with a continued spirit of innovation,” Pollack states. The possibility of the sale of the company (something that Pollack admits was “in process”) to move forward is something that FS&G is looking to accomplish.
In a statement to Poker News Daily, the Heartland Poker Tour firmly said it will continue on. “It is shuffle up and deal as usual for HPT,” Jen Mastrud, a spokesperson for the tour, stated to Poker News Daily yesterday. “St. Louis is definitely still on and it may be our biggest event yet.” The HPT will be celebrating its 100th tournament beginning today with satellites to its Main Event, which is scheduled to begin next Thursday at the River City Casino in the “Gateway to the West.”
Following the announcement of the FS&G filing, further information on the FS&G situation became apparent. According to VegasInc.com, the company had only $15,000 cash available while being owed around $115,000. Two creditors, Pinnacle Entertainment (who has been long rumored to be looking at purchasing FS&G prior to the Chapter 11 filing) and All In Productions, were owed approximately $2 million each, putting FS&G’s debts in the neighborhood of $3.8 million.
After the announcement by Pollack on the FS&G website, the poker community erupted in a firestorm on both sides of the equation. Daniel Negreanu, who has been quite vocal in his opposition to the EPL, took to his Twitter account to, for lack of a better term, gloat about his prediction of its failure. This brought the ire of other pros, who lamented the loss of what was, by most accounts, a tournament circuit that was well received by those who played in the events and for those who worked the tournaments and their loss of jobs.
The Chapter 11 filing doesn’t spell the end for any component of FS&G, but the future is cloudy, at best. Poker News Daily will continue to monitor the situation and report when further details arise.