Full Blown Tilt

June 24, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm

Full Blown Tilt

Following Black Friday, embattled cardroom giant Full Tilt Poker has been struggling to retain the goodwill and trust of its customers. While Pokerstars has largely managed to return player balances and remain operating as normal for people outside of the US, FTP has struggled with delayed cash-outs worldwide, general mistrust and answered questions. Players continue to have worries about FTP's solvency and long term future.

Since Full Tilt’s concession with the Department of Justice, there is no legal impediment to returning money to US players. Rather, worries center around the ability of FTP to fulfill all cash-out requests without relying on money from new deposits.

Withdrawals for players worldwide have been suffering extreme delays. Many people complain on online forums that they’ve been waiting since the end of May for withdrawals that usually take a few days.

In addition to delays, players are frustrated by a lack of transparency while Full Tilt makes cash-outs with all the predictability of Isildur1’s results graph: some players have been waiting since the end of May while others got shipped their money after a week; some five-figure sums get paid out ahead of hundred-dollar requests; UK grinders get payments through Moneybookers in a couple of days while Canadians wait for a month. All the while, Full Tilt answers all questions about cash-outs with a standard “your money is safe, please be patient” e-mail.

Frustration over delays is heightened by ongoing worries that, unlike Stars, there may come a point where FTP is unable to fulfill requests at all. Pokerstars is regulated in the Isle of Man, which requires all player deposits to be segregated from other operating funds.

Full Tilt, on the other hand, is regulated in Alderney, which requires only that they adhere to a “strict prudential ratio” of assets and money to player deposits. In other words, FTP only needed to have a percentage of player deposits available as cash that could be withdrawn at any one time. As anyone who’s seen It’s a Wonderful Life will tell you, that system works brilliantly until everyone wants to withdraw their money at the same time. Without Jimmy Stewart to make a rousing speech about trust and togetherness, rumours are circulating that Full Tilt is looking to sell a portion of its equity to an investor (in this metaphor, I guess, Mr. Potter - you know, the old guy in the wheelchair?) in order to raise enough cash pay everyone.

The legal future of FTP in the US is still extremely murky. It’s possible the owners of the site will  reach some kind of plea bargain for lesser punishment or dismissed charges, but how likely this is depends on US prosecutors and the Department of Justice.

In a rare optimistic moment for US poker players, Republican congressman Joe Barton introduced a bill on Friday that would make online poker legal in the US, with state- and federal-level regulation. If the bill passes, it remains to be seen what it will mean for FTP and Stars. On the one hand, it may signal a willingness to plea bargain with the online poker rooms, and perhaps even allow them to operate again in the US in some form in the future. However, it's more likely US authorities will want to clear the way for US companies - perhaps existing brick-and-mortar casinos - to establish themselves as the dominant forces in US online poker. So, as things stand, it’s hard to be optimistic about Full Tilt’s future. Here’s hoping everyone gets paid.


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