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Poker Players Alliance Meets with DOJ Regarding Full Tilt Poker Player Funds

Poker Players Alliance

The Poker Players Alliance met with representatives of the Department of Justice recently to stress the importance of American citizens being able to get back the money they had on Full Tilt Poker.

The meeting took place before Friday's announcement that Full Tilt had reached an acquisition agreement with the French-based Bernard Tapie Group. The deal is contingent on the group being able to reach a favorable resolution with the DOJ, presumably to recover at least some of the funds seized by the U.S. government in order use that money in repaying players.

"We still have an open dialogue with [the DOJ] and look forward to more productive conversations down the road," said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. "We plan to follow up to make sure the DOJ gets a guarantee that players get restitution through any deal with new Full Tilt management."

Pappas, who said the PPA met with representatives of the DOJ involved in the case against Full Tilt in Manhattan, indicated that the DOJ responded favorably to the PPA's assertions that poker players should be considered victims of Full Tilt to be compensated from funds seized from the company.

To get to the point at which the court case is concluded and forfeited funds are returned to victims could take years. The paperwork to handle all player claims would be a bureaucratic nightmare for the government. Because some of the seized funds likely would go to players anyway, it could stand to reason for the DOJ to reach an agreement that releases that money to Full Tilt with the understanding it goes back to the players.

"We continue to believe the best and most expedient way to reimburse players is through the sale of Full Tilt contingent on paying back players," Pappas said. "I think the DOJ would like to preserve as much of the forfeiture money for themselves, but they would view a new company coming in and paying back players as something beneficial to them and the player community."

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Pappas said that the PPA has held meetings at the offices of nearly every member of the debt super committee and is optimistic that the possibility of legalizing online poker will be brought up as a possibility to help reduce the budget deficit.

"There are people on the committee and off the committee who see value in this," Pappas said. "We've worked hard the last several weeks to educate various members on the committee on why this would make an ideal candidate for the committee proposal. I think those in the committee are interested in seeing possible revenue projections."

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The motions to dismiss filed by two of the men indicted on Black Friday — payment processor Chad Elie and Utah bank executive John Campos — make many of the arguments the PPA has long hoped to see brought up in court. The main point is that there is no federal law against online poker and it is not illegal in most states, therefore the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and Illegal Gambling Business Act don't apply to online poker.

Those arguments could be key for the future of online poker. Pappas said the PPA isn't going to be very involved in a case that doesn't include poker players but could provide an amicus brief with research on the legality of online poker if asked to by the accused.

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  • Percival Percival

    RichMarkgraf: That's not what I said, suggest you re-read my post. To be clear, I was always, and will always be an advocate for poker player rights.

    I've been a supporter of the Poker Players Alliance in the past, and I hope to contribute in the future, as I do believe the PPA is a just cause. But from my first hand discussions with PPA representatives during the WSOP in Las Vegas, and now learning about it's meeting with the DoJ, I have concerns. If you and your buddies want to have blind faith in whatever the PPA discusses with the DoJ, that's your decision. I'm not of that camp. I want to see the PPA continue to grow and thrive, I really do. But I want the Poker Players Alliance to honor the code that poker businesses haven't so far, and not go about it's day to day business assuming the sheep will follow. If its talking with the DoJ about player funds, I want to know specifically what was discussed, and if any suggestions or concessions were made, and by whom.

    I have great respect for Rich and other PPA board that I've met in the past. I don't know the scope of discussions, or what suggestions may have been traded, in the PPA's meeting with the DoJ. But I would be disappointed if the Poker Players Alliance took liberties in negotiating with the DoJ, or assuming that it knows what's best for Full Tilt members.

  • RichMarkgraf RichMarkgraf

    Percival: Just so I am clear. You are not a member of the PPA, you would rather the PPA not have discussions with the DOJ on behalf of its' MILLION+ members, but feel the PPA should listen to a NON-member and go hide under a rock? GET REAL! Who is the one being arrogant? Thank you Rich Muny for keeping us informed.

  • Percival Percival

    Respectfully Rich, if the PPA is going to step in the middle of a discussion with the DoJ, it should publish it's meeting notes so that members know exactly what's being discussed. Simply, there's an appearance that the PPA is speaking on behalf of Full Tilt members that are owed money. But not all of those Full Tilt customers are PPA members, and may take issue with any PPA discussion with the DoJ that includes accepting X percentage, rather that Y percentage in a distribution of available funds.

    I'm not at all suggesting that the PPA has deviate motives. But I don't think it's appropriate to be speaking on behalf of individuals that have not signed on with the Poker Players Alliance. If the PPA has a specific objective with respect to Full Tilt player funds, it should spell it out, so that non-PPA members can understand exactly what you're arguing, explaining, negotiating or ??? with the DoJ in these meetings. I mean, is your position that players should just trust that the PPA is doing the best thing for poker consumers, whatever the specific nature of the discussion? With all due respect Rich, that seems a bit arrogant of the PPA to assume so much discretion over player rights, when there's more players that aren't PPA members that you're speaking on behalf of. It's very noble, but also seems over-reaching and irresponsible.

    When I asked you in June about the PPA's role in affecting player rights, you were quick to explain that this, and not that, are the PPA's objectives. But your meeting with the DoJ seems to conflict with what you explained to me at the RIO.

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