Pokerstars Settles With U.S. DOJ, Acquires Assets of Full Tilt Poker. Quid Pro Quo, Dr. Lecter

Ponder this online poker related news:

“PokerStars today announced that the Company has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Southern District of New York. As part of the settlement agreement, PokerStars has also acquired the assets of Full Tilt Poker, and has committed to the full reimbursement of Full Tilt Poker customers outside the United States.

The total amount to be paid by PokerStars is USD$547 million which will be payable over a period of three years. The money paid to the US Government will in part be used to reimburse former Full Tilt Poker customers in the United States, through a remission process to be administered by the Department of Justice. PokerStars repaid all amounts owing to its own U.S. customers shortly after it closed its U.S. operations.

PokerStars will also make available in a segregated bank account, all outstanding balances owing to all non-U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker (an amount totalling USD$184 million), with no restrictions on withdrawals, within 90 days of completing this transaction. PokerStars has remained open for non-U.S. players, with all its licenses in good standing, without interruptions.

Under the agreement with the Department of Justice, PokerStars does not admit to any wrongdoing. Furthermore, the agreement explicitly permits PokerStars to apply to relevant U.S. gaming authorities, under both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands, to offer real money online poker when State or Federal governments introduce a  framework to regulate such activity.

PokerStars plans to re-launch Full Tilt Poker in most markets as a separate brand, following the appointment of a new, independent management team.  Full Tilt Poker’s operations will continue to be run from Dublin, but regulatory oversight will be transferred to the Isle of Man.  Further details of these plans will be announced shortly.”

Now… your first thought should be: “Wait a second – Full Tilt destroyed themselves and ruined their own reputation.  Why on Earth would PokerStars want to buy their corpse?  Stars doesn’t need to buy them – if/when online poker gets legalized, Stars will already be way ahead of Tilt on account of Tilt’s reputational suicide.”

Ah hah – but Stars still had the U.S. Government to worry about – and I’m guessing that what happened here was a little quid pro quo.

Maybe the DOJ said something to the tune of “Yo, Pokerstars, if you guys EVER want access to our sweet U.S. market when online gambling gets legalized, you better pony up and make the FullTilt account holders whole, and top it up with a little bit for Uncle Sam too.

In the words of Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs: “Quid Pro Quo, Doctor Lecter.”

In any case, this is potentially good news for Full Tilt account holders, and probably good news for the future of online poker in the U.S.



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