“Full Tilt down?”
That short query has become a sort of inside joke in the online poker community over the years, as whenever players had trouble logging on to Full Tilt Poker, a number of threads would be started almost simultaneously on internet message boards asking about the status of the company’s game servers. Today is a special day, however, as that question is now more relevant than ever. The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), the body which licenses Full Tilt, has ordered the online poker room to cease operations.
In dual statements released today, the AGCC said that it has issued Suspension Notes to Vantage Limited, Oxalic Limited, Filco Limited, and Orinic Limited, who together do business as Full Tilt Poker. The companies must “cease to exercise their eGambling licenses,” which means what one would logically think it means. Full Tilt Poker is immediately forbidden from registering new customers, accepting deposits, allowing customers to withdraw funds, and hosting any poker games whatsoever.
A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for 10:00am on Tuesday, July 26th in London.
The AGCC briefly explained the situation, saying, “The decision to suspend these licenses follows a special investigation prompted by the indictments unsealed by US Attorney General’s Office in the Southern District of New York on 15 April 2011, during which grounds were found to indicate that these licensees and their business associates were operating contrary to Alderney legislation. The nature of the findings necessitated the taking of immediate action in the public interest.”
In the press release, Andre Wilsenach, the Executive Director of the AGCC, added, “The decision to suspend the eGambling license was in the public interest and, because of the seriousness and urgency of the matter, it required that immediate action be taken ahead of the regulatory hearing.”
News of the suspension was made public in the late morning in Alderney and very shortly thereafter, all play on Full Tilt Poker was halted. Of course, many players had no idea what was going on at that moment; the only indication of any issue on Full Tilt’s website was a short message near the bottom of the home page reading, “Scheduled Maintenance in Progress: The system is currently down for maintenance. Please check back soon!”
Full Tilt Poker has yet to make a statement regarding the license suspension.
Today’s action by the AGCC is the biggest blow to Full Tilt Poker in the two and a half months since Black Friday. In fact, many in the poker community believe it is the final dagger for the once high-flying company. What had previously been the world’s second largest online poker room by a longshot had already lost half of its player base since Black Friday after it had to shut out all U.S. players. Now, with poker operations completely stopped for at least a month, the company will fall into an even deeper hole.
Full Tilt still has not returned funds to its former customers in the United States, so today’s developments certainly do not help matters. The company has been looking for an investor to inject it with $100-$150 million so that it can repay U.S. players, but now any potential buyers will be even more skittish. And of course, now Europeans, Canadians, and all other Full Tilt players around the world won’t see any of their funds until at least after the July hearing. They say misery loves company and now there is plenty to of it to go around.
Is this the end for Full Tilt Poker? That remains to be seen, but if it somehow survives this, it would be hard to imagine it ever regaining its prominence again.