ONLINE POKER: Alderney commission revokes Full Tilt Poker’s licence

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission regulators concluded that Full Tilt had fundamentally misled the licensing authority about its funds, listing serious breaches of regulation including false reporting, unauthorised provision of credit and failure to report material events.

In closed-door meetings earlier this month, Full Tilt had pleaded with the Alderney regulators to allow it more time to find an investor before allowing it to present a case to regain its license. On the same day, the US Justice Department issued new allegations against the company, accusing it of defrauding its poker players while owners took USD $444 million out of the company in distributions. In a statement, the US attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, called the operation a “Ponzi scheme”. Full Tilt has acknowledged the shortfall in public statements but disputed the US government’s characterisation of the problem as a Ponzi scheme.

The Alderney regulators said the revocation of licenses related to Full Tilt Poker’s website doesn’t mean they can’t be reactivated if the business comes under new ownership and management.

“Unresolved claims by players against FTP become a matter for the police and civil authorities. Now that FTP’s licences have been revoked, AGCC no longer has jurisdiction over these companies,” the statement read.

PMA understands that Full Tilt is still hopeful that it will soon be able to announce a deal with an interested investor that would allow it to pay back the more than USD $300 million owed to poker players. That deal would also be contingent on a settlement with the US Justice Department in a civil case. The agency asked in court filings for more than USD $1 billion in restitution from the company and its owners.

An official statement from Full Tilt confirmed the site’s commitment to repay its players: “Throughout the last few months, Full Tilt Poker has been totally committed to ensuring repayment of its players in full – a commitment that it has expressed repeatedly to the Commission and the company believed that it was engaged in a collaborative effort with the Commission to repay its players.

“Notwithstanding the potential damage done by the Commission and its disregard for our players, Full Tilt Poker remains committed to repaying its players in full and continues in active negotiation,” it was stated.

Full Tilt’s international website has been shut down since its license was suspended in June by the Alderney gambling regulator, three months after the US Justice Department indicted Full Tilt executives and others from PokerStars and UB/Absolute Poker that were operating in the US market for bank fraud, illegal gambling and money laundering. The charges are still pending.

In a filing the US said that as of June, when Full Tilt was still operating overseas, one executive reported that there was just USD $6 million in the bank and liabilities of more than USD $300 million. The company had hoped that by continuing to operate overseas it could make up some of the difference, people with knowledge of the situation said, but Alderney temporarily shut the site down at the end of June due to the shortfall.

© PokerMedia Australia 2011, reproduction prohibited without permission; additional reporting Alex Berzon (WSJ)

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