In a scathing statement released earlier this week, the United States attorney responsible for prosecuting the online poker site Full Tit Poker delivered shocking news to the online poker community. According to the statement, lawyers have concluded that the company and individuals behind Full Tilt Poker have been operating dishonestly and deceiving customers as well as the public, not just in the United States, but in Canada, Europe, and all other locations where the sites’ services were offered. Bluntly put, Full Tilt was labeled “a global Ponzi scheme” that took advantage of fans’ trust in the site to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.
Online poker players have been asking for months when they’ll see their money, and the truth of the matter is this: the money is gone. According to the official statement from the American government, Full Tilt knowingly allowed poker players to deposit funds into their account when, in fact, no money actually exchanged hands. This went on for quite some time, racking up ever-increasing deficits that could never be paid back because the money simply wasn’t where it needed to be. In all, Full Tilt is alleged to have owed its players around $390 million, with only $60 million on hand to actually honour that debt. The site still owes players an estimated $300 million worldwide.
What makes this even more shocking to fans is that much of that money went right into the pockets of the site’s owners. After the Department of Justice seized the company’s assets and investigated further, it became clear that between 2007 and April 2011, right up until the moment the site was shut down, the owners of Full Tilt took nearly $440 million for themselves.
In light of these revelations, prosecutors are seeking to charge Full Tilt’s owners with civil money laundering and will ask for all funds they paid to themselves to be forfeited. If and when that money is handed over to authorities, it may become possible to dole it out to the players it belongs to. But there’s no telling how long such a process could end up taking.