The long-discussed solution to the Black Friday indictments was announced last month when PokerStars revealed a deal that would pay the U.S. Justice Department 7 million over three years and another 4 million to players of Full Tilt Poker who lost their deposits when Full Tilt was shut down. The April 15, 2011 crackdown charged both PokerStars and Full Tilt (as well as the parent company of Absolute Poker) with bank fraud, money laundering and other counts.
Under the deal, neither company admits any wrongdoing and it dismisses the civil charges against the companies with prejudice, meaning the charges cannot be re-filed. However, the criminal charges against the individual CEOs and payment executives remain in place, still to be adjudicated. The deal would also permit PokerStars to enter a legal U.S. online gaming market within the parameters of how it might be set up.
As part of the deal, Chairman Isai Scheinberg, who is under indictment in the related criminal case, will resign from PokerStars within 45 days of the acquisition of the forfeited Full Tilt assets.
Absolute Poker has reportedly also reached a deal with the DOJ but it has yet to be announced.
The payment to the U.S. government will be used in part to compensate U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker, whose accounts have been frozen for more than a year. Upon the Black Friday indictments, PokerStars immediately refunded the deposits of U.S. players, but Full Tilt was found to have intermingled deposits with the company’s general funds, some of which went to pay off partners in the company, including founder Ray Bitar and pro poker players Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Howard Lederer.
Nonetheless, Full Tilt Poker remains a powerful brand and PokerStars plans to re-launch it in about 90 days.