Full Tilt players residing in the U.S. who have not had access to their funds totaling over $200 million since April 15, 2011, had better get used to the idea of waiting a good deal longer.
Representatives from the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) met with officials from the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) Tuesday and the outcome is not as promising as many players had hoped. According to a statement posted by the PPA on Two Plus Two, "Unfortunately, completion of a refund claims process is a long way away."
The DoJ has still not hired a claims administrator to facilitate the remission process and "there is no current date certain for that selection to occur." The statement by PPA Executive Director John Pappas went on to say that even when an administrator is hired, "forfeiture and remission procedures require that a substantial administrative process be adhered to before players begin seeing their funds." In other words, it is anyone's guess when reimbursement procedures will commence. Also keep in mind that Full Tilt players are not first in the queue. Due to "staffing and resource limitations" at the DoJ and "numerous other forfeiture cases they are administering," the wait may be extensive.
Also put forward at the meeting by the PPA were the expectations that players will receive 100% of their account balances, as well as conversion to cash for Full Tilt player points. Rumors abound that the DoJ may fail to recognize player winnings to some extent. But the DoJ did allow PokerStars to fully reimburse U.S. players following Black Friday. Pappas felt that these issues were "well-received" by the DoJ. However, it was apparent "that no decisions have been made at the DoJ regarding the manner of repayment of player balances."
The PPA again offered to assist the DoJ in facilitating repayment to players, seeking a "streamlined process" that includes flexibility in verifying player identities. The PPA received no confirmation from DoJ officials, but remain "hopeful that the DoJ has sufficient means to authenticate players based on the records such as user name, passwords, security questions and email addresses."
Although Pappas felt that the meeting was "cordial and productive," it remains obvious that a lot of questions are still unanswered. As a matter of fact, it appears as though the DoJ has made hardly any progress at all in getting money back in the hands of U.S. players. They have posted a "Help Wanted" ad for a claims administrator—and that's about it.
While Full Tilt players throughout most of the rest of the world were reunited with $184 million upon the site's relaunch one week ago, U.S. players get shafted again. Not only did Americans have to sit idly by while watching Full Tilt re-open and regain their second place ranking in the online poker world, but now the wait for reimbursement of funds will be even longer. And there is no guarantee that the repayment will be 100% of player account balances.
Following PokerStars' acquisition of Full Tilt through the DoJ, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was quoted as saying that the deal was made to "allow us to quickly get significant compensation into victim players’ hands." As yet, the process has been far from quick. Players can now only wonder if "significant compensation" means significantly less than their full account balances.