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PPA Releases Statement on DoJ Meeting; Payment “A Long Way Away”

This article may be outdated. Get the latest news on Black Friday here.

Today the PPA met with the US Department of Justice to discuss the status of US player balances at Full Tilt Poker.

That meeting yielded little positive news for players.  Core takeaways:

  • The DoJ hasn’t decided how to handle player balances.
  • The DoJ has yet to hire a claims administrator.
  • There’s a lot of daylight between now and when US customers of Full Tilt can expect to see their money.

This post on TwoPlusTwo provides quality context on the DoJ’s process in similar situations.

For the sake of (badly needed) levity, here’s one suggestion for expediting the process:

Read the full text of the PPA statement regarding the meeting below.

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 FullTilt 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.

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Chris Grove
- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.