Last week, Behnam Dayanim, lawyer for Groupe Bernard Tapie, revealed that a number of poker professionals associated with Full Tilt Poker had outstanding debts that threatened GBT’s acquisition of the online poker site. Now, iGamingFrance is reporting that Laurent Tapie, the man behind the acquisition, has confirmed the allegations.
According to iGamingFrance, the amount owed by these players, $16.5 million, is an extra expense GBT may not be willing to take on, though several of the players who have not been identified have signed contracts to repay their debt.
iGamingFrance translated Tapie’s comments from French to English. Here is what he had to say:
"As written . . . the argument of the players who say ‘we will refund if the money goes to the players’ is misleading, since they know very well that the players will be refunded only if GBT goes all the way with the takeover, and for that to happen it is necessary that the bulk of money owed by the pros returns to Full Tilt.
"Otherwise GBT will have to make up the shortfall, generating an additional cost to the overall operation that GBT is not willing to take on, especially as the financial position of Full Tilt, as it appears following the audit, is actually worse than expected.
"Therefore the claim that this may block the deal unfortunately is true.
"But GBT will not stop there.
"We will study closely the exact account histories of the 19 pro players who have never repaid their debts owed to the other Full Tilt players, which amount to US$16.5m exactly.
"The poker community, and particularly that made up of former Full Tilt players waiting to recover their funds, deserves to know the reality of the behavior of some major poker figures who say they are sorry for the situation of Full Tilt players and want to do everything they can to help them get their funds back, blaming the old management, but also refrain from saying how much they have borrowed from Full Tilt, and lost, playing on the site.
"However these losses represent some of the funds owed to the players who are waiting to be reimbursed.
"When you are a poker player, a great player at that, recognized and admired, the basic rule, it seems to me, is to honor your gambling debts.
"Fortunately, among the 19 players we have attempted to contact, some have immediately called back and worked with us on a repayment plan to clear their debts, and we are already finalizing contracts to that effect.
"We now hope that those who have not contacted us will do so quickly, to find the same type of solutions, so that the situation does not remain as it is.”
*Barry Greenstein was one of the players initially singled out by GBT. Find out what he had to say about the matter in an exclusive interview with PokerNews.
PokerNews will be here to bring you any and all updates regarding the GBT/FTP situation as they develop.