The End Pt 2
June 29, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm
The volatile Full Tilt situation just went nuclear, with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) suspending the online card room's license and FTP freezing games. Full Tilt are temporarily forbidden to accept new customers or deposits, let people play poker, or even process withdrawals. The AGCC has set a hearing date for July 26. As things stand, there is no chance of any more withdrawals for any players being processed before then. It’s unclear what will happen to withdrawal requests that have already been approved or are in the process of being issued, or if cheques that have already been dispatched to players will remain valid.
The specific reason for the suspension has not been made public; the AGCC has simply made reference to a broad provision that allows for license suspension if “an eGambling licensee or a certificate holder has contravened [...] a provision of [the 2009 Alderney eGambling Ordinance]”, or the company is “no longer fit and proper” to operate (a cynic might argue FTP hasn’t been “fit and proper” for quite some time.) The AGCC has said it won’t make any further comment until July’s hearing. Therefore, we don’t know if the suspension is a result of FTP’s problems with delayed payments worldwide and the failure to make any payments to US players, or if it’s due to the broader issue of FTP’s legal problems in the US, and associated underhanded business practises. All that we do know is that the AGCC claim the Black Friday indictments led to evidence of FTP “operating contrary to Alderney legislation”.
The news is, obviously, extremely worrisome for anyone who still has money deposited with Full Tilt. For the past few weeks there have been rumours of FTP looking for an investor to raise enough cash to meet all withdrawal requests. Today’s news is likely to torpedo such plans, as Full Tilt’s sole revenue stream just evaporated, along with the last vestiges of goodwill and confidence they had among their player base.
There is some speculation that Full Tilt may simply try to get a gaming license in another jurisdiction (in the past, they have held a license with the Kahnawake Gaming Commision, the same regulator used by the Cereus network). It’s not yet clear what enforcement powers the AGCC have over Full Tilt, what assets FTP have in Alderney’s jurisdiction, or whether any reputable gaming commission (to the extent that anyone who gives a license to Cereus can be considered reputable) would be willing to countenance licensing FTP while it’s being investigated.
Full Tilt team-member Tom Dwan tweeted “Some pretty objective ppl who's opinions I respect are worried now that FT can't payout or find a buyer. Me too more I think about it”. Durrrr stands to lose more than most, and his words are being taken seriously.
A further question raised by today’s developments is what it means for rival PokerStars. While Stars has paid US players and continued operating as normal following Black Friday, if the US authorities have successfully convinced the AGCC that FTP’s US operations could breach Alderney law, it’s conceivable that they could make the same case to PokerStars’ regulator, the Gambling Supervision Commission of the Isle of Man. While Stars is in much better financial shape, its legal problems in the US are just as serious.
As always, the best we can hope for is that all the players get paid, but with today’s news that’s looking less likely now than it has ever done before.