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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

DOJ and Absolute Poker Agree

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Perhaps not on everything, but they have reached an agreement where the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York ("SDNY") has agreed to provide all the necessary assurances that Absolute poker and third parties may work together to facilitate the return of player's funds that are currently held by third party processors. This is the first step in returning US players' funds to them.

Player's Funds Frozen

Player's funds have been frozen ever since Absolute Poker, including the UB (formerly Ultimate Bet) brand, hereafter "Absolute Poker,' was named in relation to civil and criminal matters filed in federal court in Manhattan and made public on April 15th, 2011; to poker players around the world, referred to as Black Friday.

Real money play suspended in US


Absolute Poker has agreed to the cessation of real money poker play in the US and has also notified the SDNY that all US-facing operations have been closed. Absolute Poker did not request the return of its worldwide domain names, www.UB.com, www.absolutepoker.com, and www.ultimatebet.com, and the agreement reached today does not provide for the return of the .com names. Included in the agreement is the appointment of Monitor, which has been approved by the US Attorney's Office, to assess the Company's compliance with the terms of the agreement.

More issues to resolve before player's funds released

Absolute Poker's statement stresses that the top priority has always been - and remains - the return of account balances to its US players.  There are more legal issues to be worked through though before funds can be paid to US players. Blank Rome LLP, Absolute Poker's US attorneys, has been working to resolve these issues and until resolved, players' funds will not be returned.  Even with the agreement reached today with the DOJ, players' funds will not become immediately available for withdrawal.

Blanca Games spokesperson statement:


A Company spokesperson said: “Today’s signing of the agreement with the DOJ is an important step towards the safe and efficient return of funds to our US players.  We can now move as expeditiously as possible to collect player monies from third party processors as a prelude to establishing proper mechanisms for the return of funds to our US players.  As previously announced, we have already taken specific actions to exit the US market by closing our US-facing operations.  Blank Rome LLP will continue to engage in discussions with the SDNY in order to complete the necessary agreements for the final transfer of frozen fund balances to our US players.  This remains our highest priority.  We will continue to update our players and the poker community, as we move forward to resolve outstanding issues.”

*Edit:  Blanca Games issued a revised Final Statement, which is copy/pasted in its entirety, regarding their agreement today with the DOJ:

NEW and CORRECTED RELEASE
ABSOLUTE POKER REACHES AGREEMENT WITH
US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda (May 10, 2011) --- Absolute Poker, including the UB (formerly Ultimate Bet) brand, hereafter “Absolute Poker,” issued the following new version of its earlier statement today that corrects certain language in relation to civil matters filed in federal court in Manhattan and made public on April 15, 2011:

Absolute Poker has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”).  Under the agreement, the US Attorney’s Office has agreed to provide all necessary assurances that third parties may work with Absolute Poker to facilitate the return of funds to players located in the US. This provision is an important first step to returning US player funds.

The Company has also notified the SDNY that it has closed its US-facing operations, and it has agreed to the cessation of real money poker play in the US.  As such, Absolute Poker has not requested the return of its worldwide domain names, www.AbsolutePoker.com, www.UltimateBet.com and www.UB.com, and today’s agreement does not provide for their return. The agreement also provides for the appointment of Monitor, approved by the US Attorney’s Office, to assess the Company’s compliance with the terms of the agreement.

Absolute Poker’s top priority has always been, and remains, the refund of account balances to its US players.  Unfortunately, the Company still faces several legal issues which must be navigated before funds can be paid out to US players. The Company’s US attorneys, Blank Rome LLP, continue to work diligently to resolve these issues, which is a necessary further step to facilitate the return of funds to players.  Player funds, therefore, will not become immediately available for withdrawal as a result of today’s agreement with the DOJ.

A Company spokesperson said: “Today’s signing of the agreement with the DOJ is an important step towards the safe and efficient return of funds to our US players.  We can now move as expeditiously as possible to establish proper mechanisms for the return of funds to our US players.  As previously announced, we have already taken specific actions to exit the US market by closing our US-facing operations.  Blank Rome LLP will continue to engage in discussions with the SDNY in order to complete the necessary arrangements for the final transfer of balances to our US players.  This remains our highest priority.  We will continue to update our players and the poker community, as we move forward to resolve outstanding issues.”

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