FTP Finally Pays Out (A Little, And To The Wrong People)
Aug. 14, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm
In a move that's sure to incense anyone with money on Full Tilt Poker, the gambling giant spent a massive £250,000 paying off overdue fees to its regulator, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.
At the July 26 hearing to investigate Full Tilt's license suspension and financial troubles, FTP requested an adjournment to give them more time to finalize investment negotiations. Further, they asked that the application for adjournment be heard by the AGCC in private, excluding the horde of furious pros and poker press that had assembled to hear what lay in store for the beleaguered poker room. It was during these requests that the tribunal raised the issue of the £250k owed to the AGCC. Full Tilt's lawyer responded that the debt had not yet been paid because it made little sense for FTP to spend such a large sum on a license that was suspended. He then offered for the fee to be paid within a week, so long as the hearing was adjourned and there was a guarantee of a realistic chance of FTP's license being reinstated in the future.
Full Tilt got what it wanted – the bulk of the day's negotiations took place behind closed doors and the hearing was pushed back to September 15. The AGCC has now confirmed that Full Tilt has paid the outstanding £250k.
The AGCC was quick to portray the decision in a positive light. They released a statement that said, "The recent payment of overdue licence fees by FTP is also in players' best interests since it allows commercial negotiations to take place that might result in a successful refinancing deal."
You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was in "players' best interests" for all of FTP's remaining capital to be reserved for playing out player balances, rather than shipping a quarter of a million quid to a tiny, sparsely populated island with a regulatory system so monumentally myopic it failed to notice FTP being less careful with other people's money than Chino Rheem.
Furthermore, multiple sources have reported speculation that the mysterious cabal of investors negotiating to acquire Full Tilt are only interested in the UK and Irish assets. Considering that UK online poker licensing reform seems in the offing, there is a very real question of the value of FTP's Alderney license even in the relatively unlikely event that it were to be reinstated. What's more, the Black Friday debacle has drawn public attention to how woefully inadequate Alderney's gambling regulations are, so any successful attempt to revitalise Full Tilt's brand will surely involve obtaining a license in a more highly respected jurisdiction.
The £250,000 may be a drop in the ocean compared to the total amount FTP owes to its players, but the AGCC has so far made no constructive effort at all to inform the public if, how and when Full Tilt will make good on its debts, leading to widespread frustration and anger. By ensuring that they themselves are paid before the poker community, the commission has simply added fuel to the fire.
FTP's willingness to pay the fees despite the suspension of their license may indicate a certain level of confidence in the company's future, but as of now it is a confidence not shared by anyone outside the company payroll.