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Will Full Tilt buyout return player deposits?


Full Tilt Poker took another regulatory hit last month when French online gaming regulators pulled the license of the company, although playing had effectively ended when Alderney suspended the license a week earlier.

And even though poker pro Phil Ivey indicated he would withdraw his personal lawsuit if a deal to buy the company is struck, a group of Las Vegas poker players filed a class-action suit against the company for the return of their deposits and other damages.

In France, the regulatory body ARJEL suspended the company’s license after players complained that they could not access the website or their deposits.

In New York, four players filed a suit in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. The four players filed on behalf of all the Full Tilt Poker players and named nine companies under which Full Tilt operates, as well as a dozen individuals linked to the site, including chairman Ray Bitar. Several pro players who were spokesmen for the website were also named, including Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Gus Hansen, Howard Lederer and Mike Matusow.

But a deal to buy the online poker giant is still on, according to eGaming Review. The site reported that documents are being reviewed and that a deal could be announced as early as this month. Quoting an attorney for Full Tilt, the deal would help to settle all legal issues against the company and repay Full Tilt players their deposits.

“My hope is as the company formalizes a deal with the European investors the terms include paying back the players, and we’d like to think this will help take care of the class action suit and any copycat suits on the table,” eGaming Review reported.

The source said that the buyers are a European investment group that is making its first foray into internet gaming and with no link to any of Full Tilt’s competitors. There was no mention of the online rumor that former Horseshoe owner Jack Binion is one of the investors.

Rumors that Bitar would resign was denied by the eGaming Review source. But it’s difficult to see how the site could be cleared by the DOJ without Bitar—personally indicted on Black Friday—stepping down.

It is those legal concerns that will be the ultimate reason the deal may collapse. The Wall Street Journal last month reported that the investment group was negotiating with the DOJ, and no deal will be completed until those talks are finalized, which may take weeks.

Full Tilt is also talking with the Alderney regulators, who were the first to pull the license. But a statement released last month seemed to indicate that Full Tilt could regain its license under the right circumstances.

“Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) is in discussions, albeit at an early stage, with its licensees trading as Full Tilt Poker and a third party concerning the prospective refinancing of Full Tilt Poker,” the statement said. “The objective of these discussions is to enable the site to reopen to its current and prospective players.”

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