Channel Islands-based US gambling website Full Tilt Poker had its operating licence suspended this week by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC). The move comes just months after a US federal investigation was launched against the site on what has become known as Black Friday back in April of this year.
The AGCC stated that after an internal investigation it found associates and employees of Full Tilt Poker failed to operate according to its gambling laws. A hearing has been set for 26th July, 2011. Having already seen the founders of Full Tilt Poker charged with wrong doing after the Black Friday investigation, this latest legal hearing appears to be the final nail in the coffin.
The suspension of Full Tilt Poker’s licence had left thousands of players wondering whether their funds would be returned from their accounts but in the past couple of days, an agreement with a European investor has brought hope to players who are still owed money. It is believed Full Tilt Poker could well be sold to these European investors who, it is rumoured, have already agreed to fund the $150m owed to players.
This is perhaps a ray of light at the end of the tunnel for Full Tilt Poker. It does not necessarily mean the end and more so a transition of ownership. If the European investors do fund a financial package to refund money owed to players then it would seem that the same investors have an intention to go the whole distance and will take over operations at Full Tilt Poker.
News that will be welcomed by those prospective investors is that Phil Ivey looks set to drop his legal proceedings against the site. Ivey pulled out of this year’s World Series of Poker because it felt it was unfair to participate under the Full Tilt Poker brand when there are hundreds of thousands of players who have not been so fortunate and have been unable to play poker online due to Full Tilt Poker’s recent issues. The legal proceedings were never about the money for Ivey and by seeing Full Tilt Poker’s licence being suspended Ivey feels that justice has been done.
The future is cloudy for the global online poker brand. The European investors offer a glimmer of hope but how successful the prospective owners will be remains a mystery.
In an ironic twist, another site caught up in the Black Friday controversies, Pokerstars, has seemingly been the site to benefit the most from Full Tilt Poker’s suspended licence. Early indications show that Pokerstars has attracted 59% of Full Tilt Poker’s migrants. If ever there was evidence of just how thin the line between success and failure is, then this is it.
The coming days and weeks will be a very interesting time for Full Tilt Poker. The priority is to ensure all those players who are owed money are not the ones to suffer and do receive full payment. After that then the job to get Full Tilt Poker back operating and with a clean slate is the next phase. That is much easier said than done.