Rumors continue to circulate over whether or not Full Tilt's U.S. players will be reimbursed the entire balance of their funds or just the amounts deposited at the soon-to-be resurrected site. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has been working overtime in trying to make sure that players receive all funds that were in their accounts upon the shutdown of Full Tilt last year.
Last week, the PPA offered to assist the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) in the remission process by penning a letter to the DoJ’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section from Marc J. Zwillinger of ZwillGen PLLC, an attorney for the PPA. Zwillinger offered to help establish “a streamlined, victim-friendly process for remission,” and also set forth the reasons why players should be paid their balances in full.
Chief among those reasons for full reimbursement are the facts that the settlement was concocted with full payment in mind, PokerStars paid back its players in full last year with no claims from the DoJ that any such payments were not permissible, and that rest-of-world players will have their account balances at Full Tilt fully reinstated upon relaunching in early November. The letter goes on to detail some of the ways in which Full Tilt players were deceived and became victims despite assurances that their funds were always safe.
The following day, Forbes published an editorial piece from PPA Executive Director John Pappas urging Congress to act and come up with a way to regulate online poker at the federal level. Pappas pointed out that the U.S. is losing millions of dollars in tax revenue without online poker legislation and that the settlement between PokerStars, the DoJ and Full Tilt allows for PokerStars to enter the U.S.online poker market in the future. Pappas believes that although the DoJ was the cause of the virtual shutdown of online poker in America due to the Black Friday indictments that hammered the entire industry, the settlement now shows that its time for federal legislation that is endorsed by the DoJ.
"The Justice Department could have very easily banned PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker from the United States forever, yet it chose not to," Pappas opined. "It chose to clearly recognize that online poker can and should be a viable industry in this country. Now the question is, will Congress listen?"
Whether or not U.S. players will be fully reimbursed or federal online poker regulations will ever be enacted remains to be seen. In regard to the former, Full Tilt attorney Jeff Ifrah believes that poker players may be over-reacting about the remission process and how much of their account balances will be paid.
“Given the fact that the government allowed PokerStars to pay back its customers 100 cents on the dollar after Black Friday, I’m kind of surprised to see the poker community jumping to that conclusion so quickly,” Ifrah pointed out. “I understand that the community is very vulnerable. They were victimized by what happened to them with Full Tilt. We worked very hard over the past 15 months to make sure there’s enough deposited into the [DoJ’s] remission fund to cover reimbursements at 100 percent. That’s what I expect to happen.”
Whatever the future holds regarding the reimbursement of Full Tilt players from the U.S. or whether federal online poker regulations will ever be enacted, its good to know that an organization such as the PPA exists and is working hard on behalf of poker players to ensure that our rights are not trampled on. For those players who have yet to join the alliance, new members are always welcome. Visit the site at www.theppa.org and show your support.