FullTilt Purchased by European Company?

In a new wrinkle to the drama caused by online poker’s Black Friday in April, it seems FullTilt could have finally found the financial relief necessary to pay American players. Over the past week the world’s second largest poker site had been rumored to been bought out by Jack Binion, had their gaming license revoked by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, and now might have actually found a suitable investor in their company.  According to an LA Times article published on Thursday an anonymous company has agreed to an undisclosed amount to help FullTilt get out of their financial issues.

To understand what is happening now one must go back well before the April 15th crackdown of American online poker by the US government.  It seems for some time FullTilt was accepting player deposits with very little way to actually collect the funds.  This allowed the site to be owed some $60,000,000 from their players.  Unfortunately when April 15th hit and many payment processors (and funds) were seized or frozen FullTilt was left with very little cashflow and books that would make an accountant’s head spin.  While PokerStars was able to pay back more then $120,000,000 to American players within two weeks of Black Friday, FullTilt has still been unable to do so.  The site needed to raise capital, and it appears they finally have been able to find a company or investor willing to take on both their financial and legal issues.

Earlier this week FlopTurnRiver reported that Jack Binion had been rumored to be considering a deal that would get FullTilt out of their $60,000,000 hole. Binion and FullTilt seemed like an intriguing fit. On one hand Binion is a poker legend who is responsible for the World Series of Poker. On the other, he is an American. Without an immediate future in the online crypto gambling world for those in the US one has to wonder how much Binion stood to gain from this deal. While most were hoping Binion was coming to the rescue another story broke on Wednesday. This time it was not as good of news as the Alderney Gambling Control Commission stripped FullTilt of a handful of gaming licenses due to an internal investigation of the sites operations and policies.  Not only were American players stuck more then $150,000,000 to FullTilt but now international players could not even log on and access their accounts.

To top all of this off the site is still being sued by one of its founding fathers, Phil Ivey. Ivey, who is boycotting the 2011 World Series of Poker until Americans are paid, brought litigation against FullTilt earlier in June.  The world’s best poker player seemed to be doing this both on behalf of the American poker player, but also to distance himself from the practices of Ray Bitar and the other owners of FullTilt. It has also come out this week that Ivey might have somehow been in debt to FullTilt and was looking to pay his debts and cut ties with the site, hence the lawsuit. At this time it appears Ivey has made his point and will withdraw his lawsuit as soon as FullTilt pays its players back.

This roller coaster of a ride for FullTilt seems to be coming to an end.  In the LA Times article released on Thursday stating a European group has purchased a majority share in FullTilt’s parent company, Pocket Kings.  This $185,000,000 would raise enough capital to pay American players and allow FullTilt to follow their governing bodies policies and practices.  At this time there is only speculation as to who purchased the company.  The leading candidate appears to be Bwin.party owners Norbert Teufelberger and Jim Ryan. In what could be a huge deal for the European poker player, this agreement could lead to better software for Europe-based sites and the addition of Rush Poker to an area that produces plenty of poker players looking for fast action.

Unfortunately just hours after the story broke there was some potentially bad news. Calvin Ayre, the oft-criticized owner of Bodog, said the deal was agreed upon but not done before Wednesday’s shutdown of FullTilt by the AGCC.  Both Tom Dwan and Doyle Brunson made comments on the Twitter account that also left players feeling somewhat uneasy.  Doyle tweeted “Full Tilt sold? I hope so but I wouldn’t make any big bets yet” while Dwan remarked “Company bought = players get paid soon. Obv its not 100%, but closer then this a.m.”  Dwan has been saying for days now that good news was coming, but the biggest question remaining is how big of an impact did the shutdown by the AGCC have on this deal?  FullTilt is currently without a gaming license; however, should new management come aboard allowing for US players to be paid it appears a reinstatement from the AGCC could be imminent.  It has been quite a ride for both FullTilt and their players lately, hopefully this good news is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Be sure to stay tuned to FlopTurnRiver as our news team covers any and all breaking FullTilt news.