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Possible Payback Problem for Full Tilt Poker’s American Players

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A new wrinkle in the Full Tilt payback process thanks to a purported leak from the Garden City Group outlining a remissions policy that might make it more difficult for some players to retrieve their bankrolls.

The policy – described in an email reportedly circulating internally at the GCG – would place potentially stringent restrictions on who is eligible to file a remissions claim.

The remissions process is scheduled to begin September 16th.

Full text of the email

Below is the full text of the email as provided by Rich Muny on TwoPlusTwo:

The following persons are excluded from the Remission process and are not eligible for payment from the Full Tilt Poker (“FTP”) Fund:

i. A past or present employee of FTP or any of its past or present affiliates;

ii. A past or present vendor of FTP that received compensation through FTP players’ accounts;

iii. A past or present Team Full Tilt player;

iv. A past or present shareholder of FTP, Tiltware LLC, Kolyma Corporation A.V.V., Pocket Kings Ltd., Pocket Kings Consulting Ltd., Filco Ltd., Vantage Ltd., Ranston Ltd., Mail Media Ltd., or Full Tilt Poker Ltd.;

v. A past or present officer or director of FTP, Tiltware LLC, Kolyma Corporation A.V.V., Pocket Kings Ltd., Pocket Kings Consulting Ltd., Filco Ltd., Vantage Ltd., Ranston Ltd., Mail Media Ltd., or Full Tilt Poker Ltd. or any of their past or present affiliates;

vi. A defendant in any civil action or a claimant in any forfeiture action brought by the Department of Justice related to the violations alleged in this action, or any related action (or any of his or her affiliates, assigns, heirs, distributees, spouses, parents, children, or controlled entities); and

vii. A person who, as of the Petition filing deadline, has been the subject of criminal charges related to the violations alleged in this action, or any related action (or any of his or her affiliates, assigns, heirs, distributees, spouses, parents, children, or controlled entities).

Authenticity not confirmed, but policy is plausible

No one from the GCG has confirmed the authenticity of the email. But Rich Muny of the PPA contacted the GCG and reported that they would neither “confirm or deny” the information.

It’s possible that the policy is simply under consideration and that what we’re seeing is a draft of sorts.

Regardless, the policy is certainly a plausible one, as the U.S. Government is likely loathe to see any money return to individuals or companies that ostensibly profited from what the DoJ considered to be a Ponzi scheme.

In short, while some of the finer points might change, some policy very much like the one described in the email is absolutely going to be a part of the remissions process.

What does GCG mean by affiliate?

Most of the above is fairly straightforward. But there’s one area of ambiguity that is going to be especially of interest to many of Full Tilt’s former U.S. customers: what precisely the GCG means when they say “affiliate.”

When used in the context of online gambling, “affiliate” is generally understood to mean anyone who promotes an online poker room or online casino via the affiliate program of said site.

But the contractual use of “affiliate” is usually narrower and used to indicate a far closer relationship – one that usually involves ownership or some other type of direct control – than the one between an online poker room and an independent entity promoting that poker room via a tracking link.

While I don’t have any inside information on the matter, I would assume that GCG is employing the term in a way closer to the second meaning than the first. I came to this conclusion primarily because:

  • The context of the email suggests that the GCG is using the term affiliate in the narrower legal sense.
  • Using the broad definition would make the remissions process infinitely more complex. To wit: Anyone who had ever referred a friend to Full Tilt would potentially be considered an affiliate, as would players who self-affiliated to get rakeback. In both of these scenarios, the amount of money a player received for their “affiliate” activity would likely be dwarfed by the amount they deposited or won.

“Vendor” also potentially problematic

Another area of concern for players is the mention of “vendors” in the first point of the email.

While the simplest explanation is that the DoJ is simply looking to prevent any companies owed money by FTP from doing an end run around the company’s bankruptcy, the inclusion of the phrase “received compensation through FTP players’ accounts” is certainly going to make more than a few people nervous.

Player account payments were the only option for Full Tilt’s affiliates. In the strict technical sense, players who referred other customers to FTP were receiving a compensation for a service governed by a contract between FTP and the player.

But whether or not that makes them vendors in the eyes of GCG remains unclear.

We’ll update as events warrant.

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