Cookies on the PokerWorks Website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the PokerWorks website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Continue using cookies

Poker News | Gambling and the Law

PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker Regain Domain Names

Share this
While online poker players in the US are still reeling from the shock of losing their jobs and income, and the freedom to play poker online from the privacy of their homes, there is a glimmer of light in knowing that Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have struck a deal to regain the use of the respective .com sites.  US players are still not permitted to play for real money but the rest of the world will be able to play at those sites without any issues.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara stated, "On April 15, this Office and the FBI took specific legal action against 11 individuals who allegedly engaged not merely in the operation of illegal gambling businesses, but in massive wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering, despite repeated warnings and clear notice that their conduct was illegal in the United States. No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player's deposited funds. In fact, 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."

A huge concern for U.S. Players has been their funds and how they can receive them.  Full Tilt Poker issued a statement on that:

"Full Tilt Poker™ is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to regain the use of its worldwide domain name,

Although players in the United States will not be permitted to engage in real-money play, the agreement expressly allows for real-money play outside of the United States.

In addition, the agreement represents an important first step towards returning funds to U.S. players because it allows Full Tilt Poker to utilize its domain to facilitate the withdrawal of player funds. But, unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future. 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.

Finally, there are numerous legal and jurisdictional issues that must be considered before poker winnings can be paid out to players throughout the United States. While Full Tilt Poker continues to believe that online poker is not illegal under federal law or in 49 states, the indictment and civil forfeiture action filed last Friday require Full Tilt Poker to proceed with caution in this area.

Notwithstanding these issues, Full Tilt Poker is ready to work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to try and resolve these issues and to get players their money back as soon as possible."

The issue of player's money was elaborated on in a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office: “The Complaint, a related Indictment, and a related Restraining Order issued against multiple bank accounts utilized by the companies and their payment processors do not prohibit the companies from refunding players’ money. Nevertheless, this agreement will facilitate the return of money so that players can register their refund requests directly with Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker.”

The statement went on to say: “Under the terms of the agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the companies agreed that they would not allow for, facilitate, or provide the ability for players located in the United States to engage in playing online poker for ‘real money’ or any other thing of value. The agreements allow for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to use the and domain names to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players’ funds held in account with the companies. The deposit of funds by U.S. players is expressly prohibited. In addition, 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. The agreements also require the appointment of an independent Monitor to verify PokerStars’ and Full Tilt Poker’s compliance with the agreements. The Government stands to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker if it so chooses.”

There is some confusion regarding the two statements from Full Tilt Poker and the U.S. Attorney's Office although they largely echo each other, according to Full Tilt's statement:  “Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government.”

Yet the U.S. District Attorney's Office claimed that "No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player's deposited funds.”  The two statements are in direct contrast with each other and there is no clear reasoning for the difference.

This glimmer of light may not be seen entirely as good news but it is a step in the direction of players being able to recover their funds, and another glimmer that proves online poker is alive and running strong outside the U.S. is a report according to PokerNews' numbers, PokerStars signups are up 20% over the past week.  Even with the doomsday stroke from Black Friday, players' confidence remains strong in the world's largest online poker site.

A press release announcing that it has regained its .com domain came from PokerStars at 8:47 a.m. PDT: "The company categorically denies the allegations brought by the US Department of Justice on 15th April 2011 and is taking all steps necessary to robustly defend itself, and the two named individuals. Meanwhile, the company has stopped offering real money poker services in the United States.

"Returning US players' funds is a top priority for PokerStars and the company can now start the process of returning money to its former US customers. All PokerStars player deposits are completely safe. The Isle of Man's strict licensing laws (similar to other jurisdictions where PokerStars holds licenses) require all funds to be held in accounts that are segregated from company assets. PokerStars has always complied with this requirement and continues to do so. This money is readily available to meet withdrawal demands, indeed the company continues to comply with withdrawal requests from players based outside the US as normal. Outside the U.S., PokerStars continues to operate business as usual."

At 1:54 p.m. PDT PokerStars released an FAQ page at that addresses the many questions U.S. players have regarding playing online at PokerStars, playing PokerStars sponsored events, and their account balances.

PokerWorks will post more information as it becomes available on Black Friday and we ask for a call to action from all U.S. citizens to defend our rights.  Please visit the Poker Players Alliance for help on how to contact your state representatives and the President.

News Flash

The IRS Scores Big at 2015 WSOP ME Final Table

The IRS managed to snag 34.13 percent from the payouts of the 2015 November Nine, totaling $8,467,091.

Read more

Quick Room Review

Bonus Room review

Subscribe to the Nightly Turbo

Be the first to know all the latest poker news, tournament results, gossip and learn all about the best online poker deals straight from your inbox.

RSS Feed