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Compensation To Victims Of Full Tilt Poker 'A Long Way Away,' Says Poker Players Alliance

Group's John Pappas Meets With Government


$159 million.

That’s about how much money is still owed to American victims of old Full Tilt Poker.

19 months.

That’s about how long Americans have been waiting for access to their accounts.

It has been more than three months since PokerStars handed U.S. federal authorities, as part of its own deal to get out of hot water, an initial settlement payment of $225 million, more than enough to compensate former U.S. Full Tilt Poker customers.

This week, the Poker Players Alliance, a lobbying group on Capitol Hill that does most of its work on the online poker legalization front, met with the Department of Justice.

The purpose? To figure out what is taking so long.

After sitting down with government officials, John Pappas, Executive Director of the PPA, said in a statement that “completion of a refund claims process is a long way away.”

The slowness is particularly frustrating to poker players since PokerStars wanted to be the payment agent for Americans, Jeff Ifrah, an attorney who helped broker Full Tilt Poker’s settlement with the government, told Card Player in early August.

Questions also remain on whether or not frozen account balances will be returned in their entirety. Pappas maintained that 100 percent of funds is a must:

“We laid out compelling legal and practical arguments why full repayment was the only equitable solution. We also raised the issue of ‘player point’ balances and encouraged the DOJ to recognize the inherent value of these points when they consider what a player is owed. Our thoughts on these matters were well received; however, it was clear from our discussion that no decisions have been made regarding the manner of repayment of player balances.”

Another point which remains a mystery is precisely how victims can apply for compensation. Pappas wants it to be “streamlined” and “flexible.” In other words, it shouldn’t be too cumbersome for poker players to get their personal information verified.

The Department of Justice is not going at this alone. In August, the feds announced that a third-party “claims administrator” will be hired to pay out potentially 1.3 million people.

Pappas said there is no timeline for the pick. Up to 20 firms could have potentially bid on the contract, Card Player learned in August. It’s unclear what kind of fee such a firm would charge.

Pappas concluded: “We fully expect to keep a continued and open dialogue with the [DOJ] and we will continue to update you as more information becomes available.”

While Americans still wait, the new Full Tilt Poker has launched overseas and has reunited those customers with their respective funds.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus