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PokerStars finally acquired its one-time rival Full Tilt Poker nearly 15 months after the unfortunate events of Black Friday, the day on which the US Department of Justice (DoJ) began to take 3 US poker sites to task – these sites were Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker.
The authorities took control of Full Tilt Poker’s domain names, and indicted 11 others who were also linked in the case of illegal gambling, fraudulent bank dealings and also money laundering. The PokerStars acquisition of Full Tilt Poker, which is part of a settlement deal with the US federal government, will see FTP freed of all the fraud charges leveled against it and mark the end of the Full Tilt saga, which made headlines at gaming news portals for several months.
According to the settlement deal finalized on July 31, Full Tilt Poker will give up all its assets to the US government and PokerStars will give a sum of $547 million to the US government in installments over the following 3 years. Once PokerStars fully acquires the Full Tilt Poker brand and its assets from the US government, it will repay Full Tilt Poker’s players from the rest of the world within 90 days. The DoJ, in the meantime, will compensate Full Tilt Poker’s US players using the $547 million given by PokerStars over a time frame to hopefully be less than 6 months.
PokerStars has issued a press release, in which it states that it will re-launch Full Tilt Poker after appointing an independent management team for the brand, within 3 months of the deal. Although PokerStars will have to stay away from the online poker real money usa legal market at present, the recently finalized deal gives it the freedom to return to the US online poker market, apply for licenses from US gambling authorities, and offer paid online poker services to US poker players as soon as the US federal government or individual US states legalize and regulate the online poker industry.
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Following the crack down of Black Friday, both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars withdrew from the US market. Although PokerStars promptly repaid its US poker customers, Full Tilt Poker was unable to and Full Tilt Poker players have not been able to gain access to their funds ever since. On July 2, 2012, Ray Bitar, chief executive officer for Full Tilt Poker and one of the 11 people indicted by the DoJ, flew to the US and surrendered.
The settlement deal prevents PokerStars from employing Rafe Furst, Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar, Nelson Burtnick, and Chris Ferguson in the future. It also does not permit PokerStars to give Isai Scheinberg, former CEO of PokerStars, any role in its management team or board of directors. According to the terms of the deal, the US government will drop all charges against PokerStars as soon as PokerStars pays the first three installments of the sum agreed on.
According to gaming analysts, PokerStars is going to be a formidable force to reckon with once it acquires its one-time rival Full Tilt Poker. PokerStars already enjoys 60 percent of the global online poker market, and after acquiring Full Tilt Poker, it could easily grab 75 percent of the market by the end of 2013. While major online gambling companies such as Bwin.party Digital Plc are worried about the competition PokerStars could create in the European market, many gaming analysts feel that the PokerStars monopoly is not a problem. The reason is the reputation PokerStars enjoys and the fact that it is now looked upon as a “savior” by hundreds and thousands of poker players who will finally get back their money.
Hopefully, PokerStars will continue to act just as responsibly as it always has.