The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is happy to report that the Department of Justice (DOJ), as part of its continuing dialogue with the PPA regarding remission for victims of FullTiltPoker, has officially confirmed that it is indeed close to formally naming a claims administrator for the FullTiltPoker remission process. The formal announcement from the DOJ should be made within 2 weeks.
It should be noted that the naming of a claims administrator does not mean that players will be seeing their money shortly thereafter. There is still a lot of work to do before anyone can reasonably expect payments. But the naming of an administrator is an important first step and should also lead to additional important information becoming available as the administrator begins actual work.
As yet the DOJ has not confirmed any other important facts with the PPA. But our dialogue regarding repayments to players continues, assuring that players voices and concerns are being expressed and that the DOJ is listening.
DOJ Southern District of New York updates Full Tilt Poker Information page (click here).
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.
On April 15, 2011, forever known as “Black Friday” to the poker community, hundreds of thousands of US online poker players lost the ability to access their accounts on the major poker sites. Since that time the PPA has made it a priority to do everything it can to help those players get their money back. Thankfully, PokerStars fulfilled its obligation to its players and promptly returned their funds. Players on FullTiltPoker and the Cereus network were not compensated however. In July 2011 the PPA released the Player’s Funds Legal Guide in order to help players understand their rights and the various methods to assert those rights as the situation unfolded.
Now, 15 months later, another chapter of the saga has come to an end. As reported here the DOJ, FTP and PokerStars have finally come to an agreement settling the civil cases against those sites and paving the way for account balances to finally be returned. The PPA applauds the efforts of the DOJ and all the various parties for reaching this agreement and especially thanks them for making the return of player funds an important priority of the agreement. While details of the player repayment process, known as “remission of funds,” are still not available, rest assured that the PPA will be working diligently to help ensure a fair and easy process for all parties. We have reached out to the DOJ with player concerns before and we will continue to do so. We also will be available to the DOJ to assist it wherever we can in terms of what either the PPA or the players can do to help make the process easier.
The remission process was discussed in the July 2011 PPA Player’s Funds Legal Guide and you can re-read that section to get a general idea of the process. But the specific details of how the process will be conducted with respect to the specific FTP situation are still being determined by the DOJ. The PPA will use this page to keep you informed of all the details of that process as soon as they are available. The PPA will also use this page to provide you with all the assistance it can to help you through this process if you were one of the players affected.
So bookmark this page, return frequently, and keep your eye out for notices of updates. The PPA will make sure the information is here as soon as it is available. Until more information is available the only advice that can be given at this time is to remain calm, gather all the information you still have regarding your FTP account (especially your screen name, your password, and the name under which the account was registered), and stay tuned.