November 13th, 2012
Weekly Update from Rich Muny, VP of Player Relations
I have been hearing a lot from poker players with questions on the Department of Justice’s remission of Full Tilt Poker player balances. Well, I am pleased to let you know PPA met with the DoJ on Tuesday on this issue. Here’s PPA’s statement on the meeting:
PPA Statement Regarding Meeting with the Department of Justice
John A. Pappas, Executive Director, Poker Players Alliance
“Today I met with officials from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. This is the division of the DOJ that oversees the process of remission for victims of crimes. The settlement in United States v. Pokerstars, et al. designated for refunds to U.S. players over $200 million in funds forfeited on April 15, 2011 by PokerStars, relating to their FultTilt Poker accounts. I was joined by PPA counsel Marc Zwillinger and Ken Dreifach from the Washington D.C.-based law firm ZwillGen, PLLC. It was a cordial and productive meeting. We provided DOJ with information and insights on what the player community expects from the remission process, and how we believe such a process ought be administered to assure fairness.
Our first priority was to reaffirm our earlier assertions from an August 8, 2012 letter that 100 percent of player account balances be made available to players through the remission process. We laid out compelling legal and practical arguments why full repayment was the only equitable solution. We also raised the issue of “player point” balances on Full Tilt Poker and encouraged the DOJ to recognize the inherent value of these points when they consider what a player is owed. Our thoughts on these matters were well received; however, it was clear from our discussion that no decisions have been made at the DoJ regarding the manner of repayment of player balances. Nevertheless, we have provided them with a clear picture of the expectations of the player community.
Secondly, we shared our thoughts on a streamlined process for players to apply for and receive their funds. We emphasized the need for a flexible approach to player authentication and verification. While they would not confirm so in the meeting, we are hopeful that the DoJ has sufficient means to authenticate players based on the records such as user name, passwords, security questions and email addresses.
Our third objective was to get a sense of timing. Unfortunately, completion of a refund claims process is a long way away. The first step in this process will be the Department’s hiring of of a third-party claims administrator, after a bidding process: there is no current date certain for that selection to occur. But it was evident that even when a claims administrator is hired, forfeiture and remission procedures require that a substantial administrative process be adhered to before players begin seeing their funds. The PPA will remain vigilant in our advocacy for the players. We are also mindful of the staffing and resource limitations of the Department – and the numerous other forfeiture cases they are administering — and we thus have offered our assistance to help them navigate the complexities of the issues and hopefully expedite the refund process.
This is certainly not good news for those poker players still awaiting the return of their money, but it is all the news the PPA can provide at this time. Beyond that the PPA can only pledge to continue its work with the DOJ and do everything it can to help the DOJ get the process moving as soon as possible. The PPA’s legal team is already working on specific methods to help accomplish this objective.
While there were not many answers to come from this meeting, I do believe that it was beneficial and that there is a clear record for the Department to make the right decisions with respect to the player remission process. We fully expect to keep a continued and open dialogue with the Department and we will continue to update you as more information becomes available.
New England Town Hall
PPA is holding a town hall meeting in a few weeks. The PPA New England Town Hall meeting will be held in greater Boston, MA on Saturday, December 1st. Immediately following the meeting, we are hosting a charity poker tournament where attendees can compete against their fellow PPA members for cash prizes!
The Town Hall event itself is free and will include a discussion of the issues facing the poker players in the New England area and across the nation. PPA Executive Director John Pappas, Director of Grassroots and External Affairs Drew Lesofski, Litigation Support Network Director & NH State Director Patrick Fleming, several PPA state directors and I will be on hand to answer your questions regarding your poker rights. If you are in the area that day, I hope you will try to attend. You won’t want to miss this important Town Hall meeting!
BONUS! Everyone who attends the Town Hall meeting will be entered into a drawing for two FREE entries (each $100 value) to the charity poker tournament! The charity poker tournament will help raise funds to benefit the Angel Fund, a local non-profit charity that is dedicated to finding a cure for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Additionally, the first 25 attendees will receive a free PPA t-shirt!
Please let us know if you plan to attend the Town Hall and/or play in the charity event so we can ensure enough space. Contact us TODAY at [email protected].
Location: Clarion Inn Hotel Conference Center (link)
595 North Avenue
Wakefield, MA, 01880
Phone: (781) 245-6100
Date: Saturday, December 1, 2012
Town Hall and Q&A: 4pm ET
Charity Poker Tournament: Immediately following the Town Hall
Structure: $100 buy-in, 10,000 chips
Twenty minute blinds
10% of players will be paid
This will be a great opportunity to come meet your national PPA representatives and get the latest information about the current poker landscape!
- The Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny webcast on OnTilt Radio airs live Monday, at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT (listen live here). You can follow the program on Facebook at facebook.com/PokerAdvocacy, and on Twitter at @PokerAdvocacy. The show site is ontiltradio.com/ppa.
- Webcast: “PPA Weekly Update” airs live each Sunday at 6:45 pm ET/3:45 pm PT on Fifth Street Radio (listen live here).
- OnTilt Radio: “Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny.” I was joined by PPA CT State Director Chad Lehofer for a nice discussion on the upcoming New England Town Hall. (11/12) (listen here or on iTunes here).
- Fifth Street Radio: I sat down with Mark Hoke for a great discussion. (10/4) (I come on at time point 0:45:25 of Part 1… listen here).
Thank you for your continued support!
Proud to play,
|The Poker Players AllianceDedicated to Protecting America’s Favorite Card Game The Poker Players Alliance is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of poker players and enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and to protect poker players’ rights. Visit us at theppa.org
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