Groupe Bernard Tapie Buys Full Tilt Poker
Friday, 2. December 2011

Canadian poker players left in the lurch by Full Tilt Poker’s fall from grace have been offered a ray of hope. The French investment group, Groupe Bernard Tapie, has just come to an agreement with the US Department of Justice regarding their purchase of Full Tilt Poker.

The US government cracked down on the world’s three largest online poker rooms; PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute/UB Poker; on Friday, April 15th of this year on what has become to be known as Black Friday. A civil suit was filed by the US Attorney in Manhattan alleged that the three online poker companies were involved in criminal ventures such as bank fraud, money laundering and operating an illegal gaming establishment. The criminal suit sought a total of $3 billion in damages, $1 billion from Full Tilt Poker. Since then, only PokerStars has successfully reimbursed their affected players. Full Tilt Poker was the world’s second largest online poker room and owes Canadian and US players, together, over $150 million.

In addition to charges against the three companies, Full Tilt Poker CEO Raymond Bitar and other executives were accused of operating a Ponzi Scheme which resulted in Full Tilt Poker execs being paid a total of $444 million while player accounts were sucked dry.

The agreement signed between the US government and Groupe Bernard Tapie is quite complex and requires that various stake holders take a number of steps prior to players being reimbursed. First and foremost, Full Tilt Poker must come to a settlement with the US Department of Justice and forfeit their company to the US government. Once Full Tilt Poker has forfeited their company, Groupe Bernard Tapie will be allowed to purchase all of Full Tilt Poker’s assets for $80 million. Moreover, if the US government is able to account for money in Full Tilt Poker’s seized account then the French investment group could acquire Full Tilt Poker for as little as $40 million.

Funds in seized Full Tilt Poker accounts will eventually be used by the US government to pay back Full Tilt’s players. Once players have been reimbursed, Groupe Bernard Tapie will try and relaunch Full Tilt Poker. Most players are hoping that Groupe Bernard Tapie will relaunch Full Tilt Poker in Canada which isn’t farfetched considering that the majority of the Full Tilt Pros have made the move to Canada in order to play online. Regardless of where Full Tilt Poker is relaunched, it will not accept players from the US until a federal law is introduced legalizing online poker.

In addition to paying back US and Canadian players, the agreement envisages that international players owed money by Full Tilt Poker be repaid or made whole. Full Tilt Poker owes approximately $300 million to players worldwide.

According to the agreement, Raymond Bitar will not profit in any way from the sale nor will he enjoy a stake in the new manifestation of Full Tilt Poker.

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