Full Tilt Poker has been acquired by PokerStars after many months of negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney's office has put its approval on a deal that will allow the forfeiture of all Full Tilt Poker's assets to PokerStars. Over the next three years PokerStars will forfeit $547 million to the United States government in return.
When the transfer of assets has been finalized, the outstanding balances owed to all non-U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker will be made available by PokerStars - $184 million - within 90 days. A separate refund of approximately $150 million will be made available to U.S. players.
Once the U.S. Government has received $225 million from PokerStars, the forfeiture of Full Tilt assets will be complete; payment must be made within six days of today's settlement.
"We are pleased to announce these settlements by Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, which allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands," said Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in a press release. "Today’s settlements demonstrate that if you engage in conduct that violates the laws of the United States, as we alleged in this case, then even if you are doing so from across the ocean, you will have to answer for that conduct and turn over your ill-gotten gains.”
PokerStars issued a press release stating that company plans are to re-launch Full Tilt Poker as a separate brand in most markets, and appoint a "new, independent management team." Dublin will remain the headquarters of Full Tilt Poker but the Isle of Man will handle regulatory oversight.
We are delighted we have been able to put this matter behind us, and also secured our ability to operate in the United States of America whenever the regulations allow,” said Mark Scheinberg, Chairman of the Board of PokerStars. “This outcome demonstrates our continuing global leadership of the online poker industry, and our commitment to working with governments and regulators to ensure the highest standards of protection for players.
“Acquiring certain assets of Full Tilt Poker strengthens PokerStars, brings welcome relief to Full Tilt Poker players who have been waiting over 12 months for repayment of their money, and benefits the entire poker community. Full Tilt Poker’s customers outside the U.S. can soon look forward to accessing their accounts and playing on the re-launched site, confident that they are supported by PokerStars’ history of integrity and our track record of delivering high-quality and secure online poker.”
Isai Scheinberg, PokerStars founder, will be forced out of his company role as a director or management role within 45 days under the terms of the deal that PokerStars has struck with the Department of Justice. Scheinberg is presently under indictment - one of the 11 men the DoJ indicted on April 15th, 2011 - for his involvement in illegal gambling activities in the United States. Upon the resolution of the criminal case, this provision is subject to re-evaluation by the parties.