Stars acquires Full Tilt in $731m civil settlement deal

PokerStars has settled its civil suit with the US DOJ by agreeing a deal to acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker (FTP) for US$547m and providing for the repayment of US$184m to non-US players left out of pocket when FTP went out of business last year.

The agreement, announced by the US Attorney’s Office today, will see FTP forfeit all assets to the US government in return for the dismissal of all civil forfeiture and money laundering charges against the company. These assets will then be transferred to PokerStars in return for forfeiting US$547,000 to the US government over three years, again with all corporate civil charges dropped, with Stars also making the US$184m owed to Full Tilt’s non-US players available for withdrawal in full within 90 days. Stars will be able to acquire the forfeited assets and relaunch the Full Tilt Poker website again upon the US government’s receipt of a US$225m payment from Stars, which must take place within six days of today.

US players still owed money by the poker room when it was shut down by its regulator the Alderney Gambling Control Commission last June – expected by US authorities to be around US$150m – will be able to apply for compensation from the US DOJ out of the money forfeited by PokerStars.

Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said his office was pleased to announce the settlements by FTP and Stars, “which allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands.” He added that today’s settlements demonstrated that if you allegedly engaged in conduct that violated the laws of the US, even from overseas, “you will have to answer for that conduct and turn over your ill-gotten gains.”

None of the criminal charges lodged against individuals associated with Full Tilt or PokerStars will however be dismissed as part of the agreement, with PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg required to withdraw from directorial or managerial role at any PokerStars company within 45 days of the closing of the transaction. The Manhattan US Attorney’s Office however added that: “This provision is subject to re-evaluation by the parties upon the resolution of the criminal case.”

PokerStars’ director of communications Eric Hollreiser said the deal would complete in the next seven days, adding that the company’s “first order of business is to re-open the site, pay back all of the players and begin rebuilding Full Tilt’s reputation.”

Full Tilt said in a press statement that it was “very pleased to announce the conclusion of a three-way transaction” with Stars and the US DOJ “which will result in all of FTP’s US players having the opportunity to be paid.”

The poker room also apologised to its customers “who endured a long and difficult period wondering whether this day would ever come”, and expressed its “appreciation to its loyal employees whose hard work over the last 15 months preserved the value of the Full Tilt Poker assets so a deal like this could be possible.”

Casino Choice journalist

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