Department Of Justice Looks For Aid With About 1.3 Million 'Potential U.S. Victims' Of Full Tilt Poker
Government To Hire Payment Processor For $159M Worth Of Cash Outs
The government needs some help.
Late last week, the United States Department of Justice released an employment opportunity notice on its website. The position is for a third-party “Claims Administrator” for the Full Tilt Poker remission process.
According to the DOJ, there are about 1.3 million “potential U.S. victims” — those with money stuck on defunct Full Tilt, which was sold to PokerStars just last week. Those former U.S. customers have account balances totaling about $159 million. The DOJ has the money to cover this amount after PokerStars paid its initial installment of $225 million. The U.S. will eventually receive $547 million from PokerStars.
However, compensating such a huge number of people could be a challenging process.
Jeff Ifrah, an attorney for Full Tilt who helped broker the deal with PokerStars and the DOJ, said that the goal of the hiring is to “improve processing time.” The DOJ is asking to have applications for the position submitted by the end of August.
Ifrah said that the decision to hire an outside firm is “consistent” with what the DOJ has said throughout the negotiations. It’s an “indication that everything is on track,” he added.
According to the DOJ, the Claims Administrator will work with authorities to “design and execute a process to solicit, receive and evaluate claims, and to process payments, for losses incurred by U.S. victims that are attributable to the fraud alleged in the [Full Tilt Poker complaint]. In so doing the Claims Administrator will obtain and evaluate information, such as financial transaction records, from claimants, and analyze information contained in user account records provided in database and other format by Full Tilt Poker.”
Among other things, the application requires interested parties to disclose any prior contacts with any online poker site or gambling company that could “be viewed as affecting independence.” The government is also asking for projected fees for the job.
This remission avenue may be peculiar since PokerStars wanted to repay Full Tilt’s U.S. players. Instead, the Isle of Man-based company will only handle cash outs in foreign markets.
After the indictments in April 2011, PokerStars swiftly cashed out its U.S. players with the permission of the DOJ. Having PokerStars handle everything again would be “much faster,” Ifrah said. He added that it was never explained why the DOJ chose to handle U.S. funds.
The Poker Players Alliance, a Washington D.C-based lobbying group, released a letter last week regarding player funds, which mentions that it “stands ready to assist the [DOJ] in creating a streamlined and accessible process.”
Poker pro Greg Raymer, who serves on the group’s Board of Directors, said that it’s all about making “our voice heard” so that the process is “fair and quick.”
“The PPA is there to make sure [processing] fees are minimal for the player,” Raymer added. He also pointed out that his organization doesn’t have the capabilities or expertise to work as the Claims Administrator. “I can’t imagine we would be doing that.”
“Some [company] is certainly going to make some money,” Raymer admitted about the process of cashing out U.S. players. “The DOJ isn’t a payment processing company.”
The government has yet to release any specific information on how players can file a claim. Although the DOJ hasn’t made any guarantees, Ifrah expects reimbursement at 100 percent.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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