Black Friday Bulletin Board | US Online Poker Legal Updates

The US Government has issued federal charges against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. We’re posting news updates about these online poker legal charges as they happen.

The catch-all, one-stop shop for everything related to poker's Black Friday and the ongoing development of online poker in the US. We'll be updating this with news and links whenever something significant occurs in relation to PokerStars, Full Tilt poker sites and AP/UB's ongoing dealings with the US Department of Justice.

A History of Poker's Black Friday

September 19, 2012

Nelson Burtnick, a Canadian man who processed payments for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, pleads guilty to breaking the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act in New York.

Burtnick admitted to breaking the law and deceiving banks in order to process illegal online gambling payments following the introduction of the UIGEA.

“We had to do this type of deception to enable U.S. poker players to load their accounts with funds,” Burtnick said in court. “I know that what I did was wrong.”

Burtnick will be sentenced in New York December 19. He could receive up to 15 years and will have to forfeit all funds generated by the crimes.

September 11, 2012

The US Department of Justice files a second amendment to the complaint against Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, including $137 million in forfeiture charges against Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Ray Bitar and Rafe Furst.

The funds described in the complaint represent owner distributions generated by the proceeds of Full Tilt Poker in the four and a half years leading up to Black Friday.

The DOJ is alleging that since those funds are proceeds from unlawful activities, they are subject to forfeiture.

According to the amended complaint the DOJ will be seeking forfeitures in the amounts of:

  • $42.5 million from Howard Lederer
  • $42 million from Chris Ferguson
  • $40.8 million from Ray Bitar
  • $11.7 million from Rafe Furst

Check out the full story and the DOJ's Second Amended Complaint here.

July 31, 2012

Absolute Poker forfeits its assets to the US government in exchange for them dropping all civil charges against Absolute Poker, Ultimate Bet, Absolute Entertainment, S.A., Blanca Games, Inc., Hoop & Javelin Holdings Limited, Hoop Payment Solution Services Ltd., and Morning Bliss Overseas Ltd.

The forfeiture includes:

  • Deposited funds
  • Receivables
  • Hardware and
  • Intellectual Property

While the civil charges have been dropped, not everyone at UB made it out unscathed. Head of Payment Processing Brent Beckley pled guilty and received 14 months in prison on July 23.

The Absolute Poker forfeiture was first broken by Bloomberg.

July 31, 2012

PokerStars and the US Department of Justice announce a settlement agreement whereby PokerStars will acquire Full Tilt Poker and all its assets in a deal that will see all Full Tilt players recover their player balances.

PokerStars will forfeit $547 million to the DOJ over the next three years and will also repay an additional $184 million to non-US players with money in their Full Tilt accounts.

Part of the deal also stipulates that PokerStars will have the Full Tilt Poker website up and running for non-US players within 90 days.

PokerStars announced a number of significant aspects of this deal and its implications.

  • PokerStars (and Full Tilt Poker) will be permitted to apply to relevant U.S. gaming authorities to offer real-money online poker if/when state or federal governments introduce regulation.
  • All civil forfeiture and money laundering charges against PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will be dropped.
  • PokerStars' Isai Scheinberg will be forced to step down from PokerStars management.
  • PokerStars is prohibited from employing or otherwise hiring Full Tilt insiders Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Rafe Furst and Nelson Burtnick.
  • There are plans to re-launch Full Tilt Poker in most markets as a separate brand, following the appointment of a "new, independent management team."
  • PokerStars will relaunch Full Tilt in most markets within 90 days of deal closing with player accounts available in full for play or withdrawal.
  • PokerStars will not seek a license to operate as Full Tilt Poker in France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Belgium or Estonia.

Click through to our story on PokerStars acquiring Full Tilt Poker. Additionally, read about what the deal really means for poker.

July 30, 2012

Numerous online poker sources claim a deal between PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker that will see FTP players repaid has finally been reached.

As of July 30 at 12 p.m. PST, nothing has been officially announced by PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker or the U.S. Department of Justice.

July 10, 2012

Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar is released on a $2.5 million personal recognizance bond backed by five unnamed supporters.

Bitar is free to return to his Calfornia home for the first time in over a year but will be monitored electronically by federal agents.

July 3, 2012

Bitar pleads not guilty to all charges against him and is held in custody on $2.4 million bail.

If found guilty on all money laundering, wire fraud and illegal gambling business charges, Bitar stands to spend a maximum of 145 years in prison.

Says Bitar in a statement released by his lawyers:

"I know that a lot of people are very angry at me. I understand why.

"Full Tilt should never have gotten into a position where it could not repay player funds."

July 2, 2012

Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar is arrested at John F. Kennedy airport in New York after he decides to return to the US to answer the charges against him.

Bitar reportedly sends an email to the Dublin staff of Pocket Kings suggesting a deal with PokerStars is imminent and his return is "part of this process."

A new superseding indictment is also slapped on Bitar with several new charges suggesting Bitar encouraged new deposits from players around the world post-Black Friday despite knowing the company was insolvent.

May 1, 2012

According to a leaked email, Laurent Tapie made a last-ditch effort to steal top staff away from Pocket Kings and start a new FTP-like poker site anyway.

All 16 "key" staff members were offered the same salary and benefits they currently had plus stock options in the new company, but all had to agree to move for Tapie to go through with it.

None of the staff reportedly took the offer.

April 24, 2012

Laurent Tapie releases a statement regarding the FTP deal and claims the repayment plan for US players and the legal complications around the deal were the primary reasons it couldn't be completed.

PokerStars issues a statement via its corporate blog stating it can't comment on the speculation but doesn't deny that a deal is in the works.

April 24, 2012

A tweet from ChiliPoker CEO Alexandre Dreyfus sets off rounds of speculation PokerStars has bumped the Tapie Group out of the picture and intends to buy Full Tilt Poker for $750 million.

Tapie Group Director Laurent Tapie later confirms they have dropped out of the deal.

April 17, 2012

Information comes to light about a new company registered in Dublin called New Full Tilt Poker Limited.

Named as the company's two directors are Laurent Tapie, Managing Director of Groupe Bernard Tapie, and Prosper Jerémy Masquelier, one of the co-founders of the Internation Stadiums Poker Tour.

According to records New Full Tilt Poker Limited was incorporated on February 14, has a registered Dublin address and is classified as “Software Consultancy and Supply”.

Records also show that the company has been funded with €1 million.

March 29, 2012

The Washington Times reports that Judge Kaplan has refused to accept the misdemeanor plea made by John Campos, saying the DOJ is ""walking away from the case" by not pursuing a felony conviction.

Kaplan has asked for a written defense of the plea from the prosecution before he makes a final decision on at a hearing June 27.

March 27, 2012

UK Gambling Commission chairman Peter Dean releases an independent review of the Alderney Gaming Control Commission's management of Full Tilt Poker's gaming license.

The report generally supported the AGCC for its supervision of the FTP licensing process and said it also acted "promptly and proportionately” when irregularities arose.

March 27, 2012

John Campos, the Director of SunFirst Bank in Utah and one of the 11 named in the Department of Justice's Black Friday actions, has also reportedly agreed to plead guilty to one count.

According to a report from Forbes today, Campos has agreed to "plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge, according to three people familiar with the situation."

Forbes speculates that by agreeing to let Campos plead to a misdemeanor charge, the DOJ is avoiding a trial that could affect the government’s remaining cases against the founders of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

March 26, 2012

Chad Elie, a Las Vegas payment processor charged in the Department of Justice's Black Friday actions, pled guilty to once count of conspiracy.

His plea agreement includes forfeiting $500,000 that he earned in connection with processing payments for online poker sites operating in the US post-Black Friday.

Elie admitted to wrongful conduct, and deceiving banks into processing poker transactions.

March 21, 2012

In an article posted on TheAustralian.com, it was reported that David Tzvetkoff, founder of a payment processing company used by Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars, will appear in court as a witness for the Department of Justice in the trial of Black Friday defendants Chad Elie and John Campos.

Originally accused of stealing over $100 million by the poker companies themselves, Tzvetkoff was arrested in April 2010 in a Las Vegas casino and charged with laundering over $1 billion in payments from US players for the poker sites.

He will be a cornerstone witness in the DOJ's prosecution.

March 6, 2012

Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar makes his first statement since Black Friday, via poker website PokerStrategy.com.

Bitar answers three questions focusing on why he's been silent, and what's been happening at FTP since Black Friday.

Here is his response.

“Ray Bitar: There are two reasons. One is the ongoing legal process which has precluded me from providing any relevant information surrounding the on-going investigation, and of course, I have not wanted to jeopardize the process in any way. While I could have made general statements throughout this process, they would not directly relate to the issues under investigation. Any such statements would be so general in nature that they would not provide answers to the many questions people understandably have.

The second reason is that, along with others, I have been working every single day since Black Friday to ensure players are repaid, which has been my top priority, as well as working on the future plans of FTP. This work had to be done out of the scrutiny of the public eye. And so while it might satisfy people to have specific information about those ongoing discussions - and it would certainly take some of the heat off myself - I am convinced that such public statements would diminish the likelihood of a successful outcome, which is what we need to be focused on.

My love for the sport and the poker community has made it very difficult to keep silent, particularly in light of the many angry sentiments directed at FTP, myself and others, in newspapers and blogs. Given the lack of information that has been made public, I can certainly understand these sentiments. My primary focus has been and continues to be working towards getting us to where we want to be – the repayment of the players and the survival of the company. I have been fully dedicated to this cause and am doing everything possible for a beneficial outcome.”

February 2, 2012

In an exclusive statement to PokerStrategy.com, the lawyer for Groupe Bernard Tapie said that money still owed to Full Tilt Poker by Team Pros like Phil Ivey, Layne Flack, David Benyamine, and Erik Lindgren could pose problems to the acquisition deal.

Behn Dayanim, the lawyer, said the money owed is between $10 and $20 million.

Dayanim said:

"GBT doesn't want to acquire assets which will need to be litigated over later. In total, the sum owed to the company is between $10 and $20 million.

"Several of the players who owe money and have not yet expressed a willingness to pay their debts include Phil Ivey, Layne Flack, David Benyamine, and Erik Lindgren. Barry Greenstein, Mike Matusow, and others owe a smaller but still significant amount.
"If the money doesn't come in, it creates a serious obstacle to completion of the deal.

"This isn't the only issue with the takeover, and the deal won't end on any one issue - but this is a substantial item."

February 1, 2012

In an interview with IGamingFrance, Laurent Tapie fires back at rumors that Chris Ferguson is holding up Groupe Bernard Tapie's attempts to acquire Full Tilt Poker.

Tapie called the the story “totally false” and said the deal is on track to be completed by the end of February.

January 25, 2012

Online poker news site Subject: Poker reports that former Full Tilt Poker co-owner Chris “Jesus” Ferguson had “secret” accounts into which he funneled money prior to Black Friday, and that it could hamper FTP's acquisition by Groupe Bernard Tapie.

January 17, 2012

Adding to Ultimate Bet's worries is a new lawsuit brought against the online poker room by a group of players that includes Brad Booth, Dan King and Dustin Woolf. The group claims more than $20 million was stolen in connection to the site's superuser scandal, and they're seeking to recoup their losses plus further damages.

December 20, 2011

Absolute Poker co-owner Brent Beckley pleaded guilty to the federal charges laid against him in connection to online poker's Black Friday this past April. Beckley was charged with bank fraud and breaking US Internet gambling laws, charges which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years. Under his plea agreement, however, Beckley is reportedly serving between 12 and 18 months.

December 16, 2011

PokerStars announces a new process for protecting player funds, called The PokerStars Player Protection Plan. Introducing the strategy in the regulated French market, it will involved appointing a third party financial services company to oversee the segregation of player funds. PokerStars hopes this will become the standard in online gaming in Europe.

December 15, 2011

Full Tilt Poker has voted to further the transfer of its assets to Groupe Bernard Tapie, by way of the US Department of Justice. A two-thirds majority by FTP owners was satisfied to reach the agreement, marking another important step towards players getting repaid and GBT getting Full Tilt back on its feet.

November 18, 2011

Group Bernard Tapie has officially acquired Full Tilt Poker, paying $80 million and agreeing to repay all FTP's former non-US customers while the DOJ will manage the repayment of American players.

The deal will also see FTP assets voluntarily forfeited to the DOJ who will then transfer them to GBT.

November 15, 2011

Chris Ferguson, whose name was added to the civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker in September, has filed a new group of motions with the US District Court of Southern New York.

The motions are on behalf of the companies that comprise Full Tilt Poker, and seeks to return assets seized by the US Department of Justice on and before Black Friday. One of the motions also seeks to add Los Angeles-based attorney Ian J. Imrich to Ferguson's defense team.

November 1, 2011

Subject Poker publishes an email sent from Ray Bitar to Full Tilt Poker shareholders, announcing that the Department of Justice and Bernard Tapie Group have reached an agreement in principle that could facilitate BTG's acquisition of Full Tilt Poker.


re is the email in full:

Dear members,

I am pleased to announce that today the Department of Justice and Groupe Bernard Tapie have reached an agreement in principle regarding the acquisition of the companies comprising FullTiltPoker. My understanding is the deal provides that in exchange for an agreed upon payment by GBT, and a GBT commitment to assume responsibility for payment of ROW players, DoJ will reimburse US players and settle the outstanding civil litigation with the companies comprising FTP. Beyond these conditions, issues like the time frame and process for repayment of players remain unclear at this point and time.

With DoJ’s consent now in hand, GBT may now proceed to finalize an agreement to acquire the companies or assets that comprise FTP. That agreement will very likely address the status of your shares or interests in the successor company. When I receive that agreement, I will coordinate with our attorneys to ensure the terms of that proposed agreement will be shared with the membership and voted on.


October 20, 2011

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission amends its original tribunal report regarding the amount of money Full Tilt Poker had seized by the US Department of Justice.

The original statement put that sum at $331 million USD but the revision explains that this number more accurately represents the total money "unavailable" to FTP, only a part of which is a result of DOJ seizures.

The AGCC says that the DOJ has seized roughly $159 million from Full Tilt, $115 million of which was seized prior to Black Friday.

September 30, 2011

Full Tilt Poker signs an acquisition agreement with the Bernard Tapie Group. The acquisition is contingent on a few conditions being met, chief among them being a "favorable resolution" with the US Department of Justice.

The agreement explicitly includes the repayment of Full Tilt Poker funds to its former customers.

September 29, 2011

After a six-day long hearing the Alderney Gambling Control Commission has revoked Full Tilt Poker's gambling license. While this does not preclude FTP from seeking another license elsewhere, it does end the AGCC's jurisdiction over the now defunct online poker room.

September 22, 2011

Two of the lawyers representing Full Tilt Poker fire back at US Attorney Preet Bhahara's suggestion that Ful Tilt was operated as a "global Ponzi scheme". FTP's lawyers call that description careless and inflammatory.

1pm - September 21, 2011

Epic Poker League announces the decision to suspend Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson based on the amendment to the civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker.

12pm - September 21, 2011

Rafe Furst releases a statement addressing his inclusion in the US civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker.

Read the full statement here.

September 20, 2011

The Department of Justice makes an amendment to the civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker, adding Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Rafe Furst to the list of defendents.

The amendment names the three prominent members of Team Full Tilt and describes Full Tilt Poker as a "global Ponzi scheme".

Read the whole story with excerpts from the amendment right here.

August 30, 2011

Full Tilt Poker releases a statement addressing player funds and the key obstacles standing in the way of repayment. They also discuss potential investors and new management if and when the site re-opens.

August 5, 2011

Full Tilt Poker pays the Alderney Gambling Control Commission outstanding licensing fees totaling £250,000.

July 26, 2011

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission holds a hearing in London described by the AGCC “to make public evidence from both AGCC and Full Tilt regarding the suspension of Full Tilt’s licence and to adjudicate the findings transparently.“

The hearing was later adjourned to a date no later than September 15, 2011.

June 30, 2011

The LA Times reports, erroneously, that Full Tilt Poker was sold to a group of European investors.

June 29, 2011

PokerStars and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission issue statements assuring customers that PokerStars has and will continue to adhere to regulations, and that their license is not in jeopardy.

May 31, 2011

Phil Ivey announces that in support of US online poker players he will not be playing at the World Series of Poker. Ivey also announces he is suing Tiltware, one of the principle companies behind Full Tilt Poker.

Read Daniel Negreanu's thoughts on Tiltware's response here.

May 24, 2010

U.S. Attorneys in Baltimore, Maryland announce two new federal indictments, charging two internet gaming businesses and three individuals with money laundering and illegal gambling.

In association with the charges ten internet gaming domains have been seized, including Doylesroom.com, Bookmaker.com, 2Betsdi.com, Funtimebingo.com, Goldenarchcasino.com, Truepoker.com, Betmaker.com, Betgrandesports.com, Betehorse.com and Beted.com.

9am - May 10, 2011

Absolute Poker reaches an agreement with the Department of Justice. Under the agreement, the US Attorney's Office has agreed to provide all necessary assurances that third parties may work with Absolute Poker to facilitate the return of funds, currently held by third party processors, to players located in the US.

12am - May 6, 2011

Federal prosecutors file a supplementary fortfeiture in Manhattan's federal court, outlining the seizure of five properties in connection with the Black Friday indictments.

9am - May 5, 2011

Blanca Games, operator of UB/AP, issues a press release announcing the liquidation of its workforce and the rehiring of 20% of personnel in key positions.

This release contradicts apparently mistaken reports yesterday that UB/AP had filed for bankruptcy in Norway. The confusion arose from a release in which Blanca announced it would cease its debt repayment to Madeira Fjord who then filed for Bankruptcy.

Absolute Poker and UB to Focus on Non-U.S. Business

St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda (May 5, 2011) — Blanca Games Inc. (“Blanca”), operator of online poker rooms Absolute Poker and UB, issued the following statement today:

As previously stated, Absolute Poker and UB ceased their U.S.-facing operations due to recent legal developments in the United States. The company is currently restructuring and is focusing its resources on consolidating its non-U.S., rest-of-the-world operation and software business. In order to have a more efficient and successful future business, an immediate need to downsize and streamline operations significantly at both online poker rooms has been required.  Absolute Poker and UB continue to operate their non-U.S.-facing business.

This decision comes after considerable review and analysis of the impact that ‘Black Friday’ has had on the business as a whole. The workforce has been liquidated, and the process of rehiring approximately 20% of staff in key positions has commenced. All affected employees have been informed of this necessary restructure.

A company spokesperson said: ”We regret that we have been compelled to take these actions.  We have worked tirelessly to create a truly amazing company that is filled with extraordinary people. We have always been and still remain fully committed to our employees and players. At the same time, we are confident that this restructuring will strengthen the company and its future.”

The Company spokesperson also addressed erroneous reports that Blanca has filed for bankruptcy. The apparent confusion over this issue stems from the fact that Blanca recently informed a debt holder, Madeira Fjord, that it was terminating debt payments to, and its relationship with them.  As a result, Madeira Fjord apparently filed a notice of bankruptcy in Norway. This notice has no negative impact upon Blanca, the operating company, or its brands.  As stated previously, Absolute Poker and UB continue to operate their non-U.S. facing business around the world.

For non-U.S. players, Absolute Poker and UB have increased their maximum withdrawal limits to $1000 for Visa withdrawals and $500 for all other methods.  The number of transactions being processed per day has been significantly increased as well.  Players are still restricted to one transaction per week, but we are working to return non-U.S. withdrawals to normal service levels as quickly as possible.

As confirmed earlier this week, the company’s legal counsel is in continuing discussions this week with the U.S. Attorney’s office to formalize an agreement that would facilitate the return of funds to U.S. players.

9am - April 29, 2011

Full Tilt Poker representative "FTPDoug" posts answers to forum users questions.Originally Posted by FTPDoug Hi all,

I've been collecting your unanswered questions and asking around for the answers. The questions that I've "ignored" aren't answered below either because I don't have any kind of answer yet, I can't give any kind answer yet, or they're more general questions that I'll answer in the next "normal" Answers thread. Apologies for the long delay in posting again here. Unfortunately the process of posting is drawn way out when my answers need to be double and triple approved instead of my normal one man show.

We're also working on getting a FAQ page up on the US site soon.

1. Any estimate on when we [US players] can begin cashing out?

- Here's the official statement about this question: "Full Tilt Poker is diligently working on return of US Players funds which is a top priority and will have a further update for US customers by early next week."

2. What is the procedure for assessing the value of USA player accounts?

  • Tournament tickets (including IM freeroll tickets)

- Tournament tickets will be converted to their real money value before withdrawal. I don't have a final answer about freeroll tickets, but my best guess is they will be left untouched (not converted, but not taken from the account).

  • Cash game tickets (soon will be "expired cash game tickets")

- All Ring Game ticket balances will be converted to real money, even if they've expired since the 15th.

  • FTP points (as if converted to tourney tickets?)

- We're still looking into this one. It's unclear what we can do with FTPs, but they definitely won't just "go away."

  • IM medals (as if converted to tourney tickets?)

- We're still looking into this as well. My guess is they will be converted to FTPs once we determine what will be done with FTPs.

  • Bonuses in progress (pro rata as if points/medals refunded?)

- Bonuses purchased with points or medals will likely have their "unused" points/medals refunded. First time deposit bonuses (or any other non-purchased bonuses) will probably just expire.

  • IM progress in April (as if purchased up to 4 days for next level? medal value of freeroll?)

- We're looking into this as well, but I think we'll give a pro-rated April status (and medals) of some sort. The details still need to be worked out.

  • Unpaid rakeback (or cashback or whatever)

- This will be paid out as soon as possible. Almost definitely before cashouts are turned on.

  • Progress toward promised mid-year bonus

- This is still under discussion, but I think it's unlikely we'll pay out a potential bonus in cash. What might happen is that we preserve the "potential" from January through April and add it to the next one of those bonuses that our US players might be eligible for.

  • Accumulated months in IM

- These will be frozen in time until a player starts playing again. You won't have your streak broken because you can't play at the moment.

  • FTP Academy points

- Academy points will be treated the same as Iron Man medals, and likely be converted to FTPs.

  • Take 2 promotion

- Take 2 will be paid out (on a pro-rated basis of some sort since US players couldn't participate in the final day or two) as soon as possible, again before cashouts are turned on.

3. Will United States players who move to a new country be allowed to resume play at the site and/or withdraw their funds to a non-US bank account?

- I needed to get a very official answer on this one as well:

"Yes. But your existing account and balance will not yet be available on logging in. You will be required to provide sufficient proof of relocation, including your photo identification and proof of residency at your new address. You can then use non-US funds to play from outside the US. And, after return of your US funds, you will be able to use those funds as well from outside the US."

I know that's still a bit fuzzy, sorry about that. We'll work on clearing up all the details as soon as possible.

4. but Moneybookers are unavailable as a cashout option

- Sorry, this was my mistake. The MB issue is separate from other issues, and we're working with them to resolve the situation as soon as possible. I don't have an exact timeline for when it will be available again, but we're hopeful it will be soon.

5. I am a canadian player and it looks like Instadebit is disabled. Im just curious if you plan to use Instadebit in the near future?

- Instadebit should be up and running now. Let us know if that's not the case.

6. What about the money that the payment processors BOUNCED us in checks? And pending withdrawals via check that have not been received? Do we e-mail support with the bounced checks? Are the checks requested prior to 4/15 going to be received? Are they good?

- Definitely email [email protected] if a check bounced. If you already emailed them a while ago and they haven't gotten back to you, PM FTPSean and he will see if there's anything he can do to help speed things along. You should also email cashier with the other questions so they can look into the specific case for you as I don't think there's a general answer that covers all cases.

7. Is there an estimate time table for withdrawals to Neteller?

- Many players started getting their Neteller withdrawals late last week. There have been a couple of hiccups along the way, so there is still a bit of a delay until that clears up, but things are looking good to resume normal withdrawal speeds within a week or so.

8. cashed in medals for points last night but still haven't been credited my points.

- If you are in the US, we aren't currently processing Iron Man purchases. It's likely the order will be cancelled and you'll be refunded the medals. If you aren't in the US, there's currently a bit of a delay in the processing because of the US block. Sorry about that.

9. Can players in the US still buy things from the FTP store?

- Not at the moment, no.

10. What is going to be done with the multiple US players who were previously able to change their location?

- They have been reset back to have the United States as their country. They won't be disqualified from any tournaments they happened to enter, though.

11. Address the PMI issue

- We haven't forgotten about this. I haven't seen an update in about two weeks, as you might imagine, but I know we are still looking into it.

12. am I gonna get my tv i ordered last monday before Black Friday?

- For the moment the store isn't shipping to any US address. If your item already shipped it will get to you. If it was ordered but not yet shipped, it's been placed on hold. If it turns out we have to cancel those orders, your FTPs will be returned to your account. If you want more details about your specific order, please contact the FTP store at [email protected] and they can look up the status of your order.

13. when are you paying the take 2 money ?

- Non-US players should have already been paid for Take 2. For US players, see question 2. If you are a non-US player and haven't gotten paid for Take 2 yet, contact support and they will look into it for you. We were pretty conservative when it came to identifying players as US players so it's possible you were wrongly tagged and that's why you haven't gotten paid yet.

14. I'm very curious as to what will happen to players that made deposits that have not yet been collected from their bank accounts?

- At this point it's not clear what will happen here. We're looking into it and as soon as we know more we'll inform the affected players.

15. i just cashed out large parts of my roll via local bank transfer because i'm still not sure whats happening and i obviously wanna be rather safe than sorry. rumours say that full tilt went bankrupt and is going to have problems to pay out euro players once they start paying the players from the u.s. can you comment on that and explain why my money is supposed to be safe? i dont wanna go to stars or something bc i hate that site but when it comes to security/reliability stars is looking way better these days than full tilt. how can i be sure that my funds are really safe?

- We are not bankrupt. While there is some fallout from the US situation on non-US withdrawals (mostly in the form of delays), we won't have any problems paying out Euro (or any other) players, even after players in the US have their withdrawals processed.

16. why Webmoney still not working, sir?

- I'm hearing the Webmoney issue will be resolved within a week or so. Sorry for the delay.

17. What about FT [transaction] history. When will that be back up?

- Transaction History should be working again for US players tomorrow I think. If not tomorrow, then by next week at the latest. Sorry about that.

18. can us players still play the race to the main event freeroll?

- No, I'm afraid not.

19. We all need an answer to when and how long it should take for FTP support to get back to us.

- There are a couple of issues here. One is for US players getting nothing back except for a generic template explaining the current situation (or, worse, nothing at all). This was the advice given to support by our legal team, so their hands were tied. We're trying to get more clarity here as soon as possible as to what exactly they can and can't say (as opposed to the current "don't say anything" approach) so that support can be more helpful to US players. I do apologize for the length of silence coming from Full Tilt. It's a sensitive situation and I think we probably were a bit overly cautious here.

20. What will happen with my bankwire I req in early march that still hasnt gone thru?

- Contact [email protected] (or FTPSean if the cashier people haven't gotten back to you in a reasonable amount of time) with all of the details and they will look into it for you.

Again, let me apologize for the length of time it's taken to give these answers (and apologize for the fact that many of the answers aren’t very satisfying yet). I'm going to do my best to keep everyone as up to date as possible as often as possible, but the situation is complicated and I'm pretty limited in what I can say without a bunch of approval.


9am - April 28, 2011

Ira Rubin, another of the 11 individuals indicted by the Department of Justice, has been arrested and is being held in Miami. Rubin was arrested in Guatemala on April 25th and was since extradited to the US.

Rubin was a payment processor and is facing nine federal charges including conspiracy to violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act; three counts of violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act in connection with Pokerstars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker; three counts of operation of an illegal gambling business in connection with Pokerstars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker; conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering conspiracy.

9am - April 27, 2011

PokerStars begins processing withdrawals for its former customers from the US.

9am - April 22, 2011

Absolute Poker issues its first statement. Absolute Poker nor UltimateBet will be entering into similar agreements with the DOJ as PokerStars or Full Tilt, but Absolute stresses that refunding US players' accounts is a top priority.

Absolute Poker has retained Blank Rome LLP as United States counsel to provide legal advice in relation to civil and criminal matters filed in federal court in Manhattan and made public on April 15, 2011," the statement reads.

Absolute Poker is aware that on April 19, 2011, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York entered into separate agreements with Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. These agreements concern the use of the respective www.fulltiltpoker.com and www.pokerstars.com domain names. The US Attorney, in a press release dated April 20, 2011, stated that the government is willing to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker and UB.

At this time, Absolute Poker’s top priority is, and must be, the refund of balances to its and UB’s U.S. players. However, given the far-reaching consequences of the U.S. Attorney’s actions for Absolute Poker and for the entire poker community, Absolute Poker believes that the responsible course of action is to review with its attorneys the relevant court filings before taking any action.

Absolute Poker believes that the U.S. Attorney shares the view that refunds to U.S. players are an immediate and pressing concern, and Absolute Poker wishes to make clear that it wants to work cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney to safely and efficiently return its players’ funds. To that end, Absolute Poker’s counsel has initiated communications with the U.S. Attorney’s office and plans to continue proactively advancing those discussions.

2pm - April 20, 2011

PokerStars posts an FAQ, answering common questions for US players with real money accounts.

10am - April 20, 2011

PokerStars releases a statement in a pop-up in their poker client outlining the agreement they've struck with the DoJ. It includes continued real money poker for players outside the US, and the refund of US players' account balances.

PokerStars.com is pleased to confirm that the US Department of Justice has agreed to release the www.pokerstars.com domain name for use by PokerStars outside the US.

The company categorically denies the allegations brought by the US Department of Justice on 15th April 2011 and is taking all steps necessary to robustly defend itself, and the two named individuals.Meanwhile, the company has stopped offering real money poker services in the United States.

PokerStars' services outside of the US are not affected. The company has received assurance from the Isle of Man regulator that its license status is unchanged. The company remains compiant with all of its other international licenses.

Following discussions with the US Department of Justice, PokerStars has now entered into an agreement which has been publicly filed. The US Department of Justice Agreement expressly states that the domain can be used by PokerStars outside the US to facilitate the provision of real money poker services, and that PokerStars can pay out balances to its former customers in the US.

Returning US players' funds is a top priority for PokerStars and the company can now start the process of returning money to its former US customers.

All PokerStars deposits are completely safe. The Isle of Man's strict licensing laws (similar to other jursdictions where PokerStars holds licenses) require all funds to be held in accounts that are segregated from company assets. PokerStars has always complied with this requirement and continues to do so. This money is readeily available to meet withdrawal demands, indeed the company continues to comply with withdrawal requests from players based outside the US as normal.

Outside the US PokerStars continues to operate business as usual.

9am - April 20, 2011

The US Department of Justice releases a statement announcing that the .com domains for PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and AP/UB will be returned to the companies in order to facilitate the return of American players' funds.

The DoJ will work with the poker operators to create a process for these refunds, since the payment processors used previously are compromised.

Furthermore, the DoJ emphasizes that no player accounts were ever seized in connection to the recent criminal and civil charges.

4pm - April 19, 2011

Chad Elie, another of the 11 individuals named by the DoJ, was released on bail after pleading not-guilty. Elie is a payment processor from Illinois.

11am - April 18, 2011

Bradley Franzen, one of the 11 principals named in the federal indictment, surrenders to FBI and pleads not-guilty. Franzen subsequently released on a $200,000 bond.

Franzen is President of Chicago-based IJ International, and acted as an agent for First Data Corp of Atlanta, one of the big processors of e-commerce payments.

10am - April 18, 2011

John Pappas of the PPA appears on Bloomberg to discuss the developing situation.

9am - April 18, 2011

Absolute Poker releases a pop-up in their poker client.

As you may be aware, we have suspended real money activity for online players based in the U.S. due to legal developments. Players outside the US are not affected by these developments, and they can continue to access and play in our poker room.

The Absolute Poker website has been moved to www.absolulepoker.eu and our Support email is now [email protected]. We ask for your patience as we endeavor to attend to all player enquiries.

We apologize for inconvenience or concern caused by these circumstances. We will update you as soon as possible.

3pm - April 16, 2011

PokerStars begins calling players to assure them in person that their money is secure, as reported by a forum poster on Two Plus Two.Originally Posted by Matt CPokerStars gave me a call today. Not a whole lot of new information but figured I would share what I was told. I was told they are calling all players to relay this information.

1) They again reassured me that player's funds are safe.

2) They plan to have more information to give us on Monday or Tuesday.

3) I asked them if I made a foreign bank account if that would help me retrieve the funds more quickly. They told me it was their general policy that you can't cash out anywhere but the country you reside in but given the special circumstances that new options may be made available.

11am - April 16, 2011

Working Full Tilt Poker client available for download on new FTP domain.

10am - April 16, 2011

Full Tilt Poker addresses withdrawals and money in players' accounts.

Statement from Full Tilt Poker Regarding Recent Check Withdrawal Issues

In light of recent events involving the freezing of certain accounts, Full Tilt Poker would like to assure all players that their funds remain safe and secure. Processing of both deposit and withdrawal requests is proceeding as normal and is still available to all of our players.

All players who were affected by the current situation have had their funds returned to their accounts and all new withdrawal requests are proceeding normally. We assure all players on Full Tilt Poker that your playing experience will not change and that you will be able to both deposit and withdraw funds as needed. Your money remains safe, secure and accessible at all times.

Full Tilt Poker remains committed to the protection of our players' security and legal rights, and will continue to provide the best and safest online poker room available worldwide.

8:30pm - April 15, 2011

PokerStars releases a pop-up in their poker client.

Important Notice from PokerStars

As you may have heard, we have had to suspend real money poker services to people based in the US due to legal developments there. The developments are confined to the US and do not have any impact on your ability to continue using our services.

Please be assured player balances are safe. There is no cause for concern. For all customers outside the US it is business as usual.

The PokerStars website has been moved to www.pokerstars.eu and our support email address is now [email protected]. We apologise to our players for any inconvenience caused by this disruption.

Please be aware that we are currently experiencing a very high volume of emails, so response times are delayed. We will answer player emails as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter.

7pm - April 15, 2011

Full Tilt Poker drops a press release addressing the situation.

Dublin Ireland (April 15, 2011)- Full Tilt Poker is saddened by today's charges against its CEO Raymond Bitar and offers its full support to Mr. Bitar and Nelson Burtnick.

Online poker is a game of skill enjoyed by tens of millions of people in the United States and across the world. And, Full Tilt Poker remains as committed as ever to preserving the rights of those players to play the game they love online.

Mr. Bitar and Full Tilt Poker believe online poker is legal - a position also taken by some of the best legal minds in the United States. Full Tilt Poker is, and has always been committed to preserving the integrity of the game and abiding by the law.

"I am surprised and disappointed by the government's decision to bring these charges. I look forward to Mr. Burtnick's and my exoneration," said Mr. Bitar.

Unfortunately, as a result of this action, Full Tilt Poker has decided that it must suspend "real money" play in the United States until this case is resolved. However, Full Tilt Poker will continue to provide peer-to-peer online poker services outside of the United States.

5pm - April 15, 2011

In response to federal charges Wynn Resorts pulls out of its partnership with PokerStars.com and Station Casinos pulls out of its partnership with Full Tilt Poker.

4pm - April 15, 2011

PokerStars.com relaunches site on http://www.pokerstars.eu/

2:30pm - April 15, 2011

Cash play is locked for US players on PokerStars.

The FBI seizes the domain names PokerStars.com, FullTiltPoker.com, AbsolutePoker.com, UltimateBet.com and they are locked by the registrars.

2pm - April 15, 2011

The US Attorney's office in New York communicates in a press release that federal charges including bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling have been brought against the three biggest online poker rooms, PokerStars.com, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute/UltimateBet.

Click here for our news story with quotes from the US Attorney.

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2012-11-30 13:23:29

so now the doj has found a way of recieving its bung everything is forgotten? and they allow the other site implicated to buy it? and full tilt allow leaderer and ferguson and all the other dodgy pro’s back on the bandwagon? now is definately the time to persue a life of crime!! imo

Daniel Ror
2012-06-27 03:52:08

Online poker would be a boon for the economy. Lotteries are everywhere, so please don’t argue against it on some moral ground. If it’s taxed and regulated here in the U.S., then it would be a safer place for the players and those people who aren’t supposed to play (the underage or problem gamblers). The U.S. is practically the only country in the world that doesn’t let its citizens play a game, which ironically enough was invented here in America.

2012-03-21 11:53:59

impressive accounting of Black Friday story! well done!

2012-02-02 11:33:20

@gravis it’s a complete list from when black friday happened ldo

2012-02-02 10:44:11

just noticed that this posting thread is a bit old. updated post but still old comments… pokerlisting is great isnt it

2012-02-02 10:41:26

cant believe fulltilt has reared its head in the UK… i hope lederers ugly face isnt fronting it. BTW, where is that guy? and jesus?

poker fan
2011-04-27 20:11:03

Nice, definitely had faith in Stars to get me my cash back 🙂

2011-04-23 01:02:44

Ultimate Bet has cancelled my $4500 pending withdrawl, and changed all limits on withdrawls to $250 per week for all methods. Grrrr.

2011-04-18 18:22:21


The new site for Absolute Poker is http://www.absolutepoker.eu

Poker is Dead ?!.
2011-04-18 07:40:08

Doddam now everyone will withdraw their Money before these big sites need to use it for legal fees. Full Tilt is a shadow of itself already ?? Feels like a ghost town without the Yankees filling the tables.

2011-04-18 03:35:16

lmfao, only in the united states. bloody americans will find anything too sue each other with. american people are voting all wrong and putting the wrong mothers ” up in power. most of ur policies suck man. great country to visit but i would definitely not want to live there.
lovin it here the aussie way. chillaxx.

2011-04-18 01:32:04

online poker is not illegal in the US according some of the brightest legal minds. This is why the charges are for money laundering etc. You can expect that no change to the status quo will come about while the presidential elections fire up over the next two years.

2011-04-18 00:07:55

Does anybody know the new web site of Ultimate Bet???

2011-04-17 21:40:04

America still the land of the brave and hypocrites
but still the corrupt bankers are allowed to play their sick game
on wallstreet.
Was this raid political motivated ? , poker celebs should unite and
make a serious case for legalization

Gary Alderdyce
2011-04-17 06:19:15

If you want to help, join the PPA (Poker Players Alliance) .

2011-04-17 03:08:14

I am in Australia and we have not been affected as yet. But to be putting money in while this contraversy continues is a worry. I would imagine Australia will follow suite they normally do. So these sites better clean up their act!

2011-04-16 21:10:37


Go to FTP’s new site and download the client.


2011-04-16 20:22:51

but how do we withdraw if we cannot connect to the site? or do we have to wait an unspecified amount of time, maybe?

2011-04-16 15:02:32

It was bound to happen eventually,it was comman knowledge that online poker in the u.s is illegal, so what made these sites belive they were above the law?

2011-04-16 14:18:43

What can we do to support online gambling in the US. This is ridiculous.

2011-04-16 06:35:02

wft America.

thanks for the updates.

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