DOJ: Give Poker Players Their Money

by Omar on April 20, 2011

Ever since Black Friday, online poker players from all over the United States have been in somewhat of a state of panic.  Other than the obvious loss of the ability to play in their preferred online poker room, the bigger issue seemed to be just how would the thousands of players who had funds in their poker accounts at the time of the action of the United States Federal government, be able to get access to their own money.  After all, there are many people who relied on the sites in order to make their living, many would leave a large percentage of their bankroll online and make withdrawals as they needed to make payments for rent and utilities.

Over on, players such as Phil Galfond and Tom Dwan tried to calm down the masses by reassuring them that although it likely would not happen overnight, eventually, everyone would get paid.  In fact, in a supreme gesture, both players stated that they would reach into their own pockets and each provide a million bucks to players who hadn’t gotten their money by next holiday season.

Well, today there was finally some good news for those affected by the poker crackdown as the United States Department of Justice released a statement in which they said that an agreement had been reached with the operators of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to begin paying out their US-based players.

In their press release the DOJ said,

“This office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate.”  In part, the agreement states that both sites would have temporary restoration of their seized domain names, and to help facilitate the cashout process.

This apparently is not quite so simple in the eyes of Full Tilt who in turn responded with a press release of their own.  In theirs, they wrote,

“As a result of the recent enforcement action, there exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds; Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government; and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players.”

It should be noted that Full Tilt’s response came mere minutes after the DOJ’s, perhaps illustrating that they may have the DOJ that they have no way to pay players since they had their funds seized last Friday.  It seems  both sides are currently pointing fingers at the other regarding timely payments.  It could take some more time to unwind this tangled legal mess and more importantly, even longer before people get their money back.