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Full Tilt saga crawls to a conclusion

11th April 2012 7:13 am GMT

We are going to try and explain what is happening at Full Tilt and where it goes from here…again

I’m sure some of you are wondering what the hell is happening with Full Tilt and the sale to Bernard Tapie since we (perhaps somewhat prematurely) announced that the deal was expected to close within a week…about two weeks ago. Well, we were wondering about it so I made a few calls to find out.

We were not wrong – heaven forbid. The deal is basically done. Current owners Ray Bitar and co. have agreed it, Bernard Tapie has agreed it and crucially, the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the Southern District of New York has agreed it….although they won’t be advertising the fact any time soon.

That’s why you keep reading about these customer services jobs with Full Tilt company Pocket Kings in Dublin. Everyone involved is fairly confident this is going to get done. However, there are still a few more hoops to jump through before Tapie can get his hands on the booty. Therefore, nobody wants to talk about it in public just yet.

The deal is sitting with the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) of the DoJ in Washington DC. Unfortunately, while the New York District Attorney struck this deal and will receive Tapie’s $80m, it is up to this Washington DC branch of the DoJ to pay the money out to players who have lost their cash. They will work out the formula and dole out the dollars.

Apparently the AG in New York is confident that his colleagues in DC will not spike the deal but they still have to sign it off. Once that is done, the show moves back to New York and into Judge Leonard Sand’s District Court for the Southern District.

This is where there may be a hitch. Sand cannot approve the forfeiture until all claims against Full Tilt are resolved. In February Sand dismissed a class action from players but there are a few claims outstanding from parties claiming rights over the company.

These include the lively and litigious souls who reside in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Its lawyers are pursuing 132 websites for online gambling activities and it has an outstanding claim in New York challenging the right of the federal government to forfeit the Full Tilt assets, which it claims to have a priority on because of its litigation.

Several lawyers have told me the Kentucky case is spurious. But, it must be said, that they would say that. Most of them had some sort of connection to the online gambling industry.

It is quite hard to find an independent non-industry affiliated lawyer who knows the case well enough to comment on it. Believe it or not, this is not on the front page of The American Lawyer. It’s probably about as high up the awareness scale of the average high-flying lawyer as it is on the average congressman’s.

Anyway, I digress. Assistant Attorney Jason Cowley, who is handling this case for New York, will probably tell the Kentuckians to haul their asses back to Frankfort… or words to that extent. He will ask Judge Sand to strike all claims against Full Tilt and agree to the forfeiture. Sand can then order the forfeiture.

One of the parties likens the deal to a pre-pack administration – a pre-packaged forfeiture if you like.

So that’s where we stand. I feel fully up to speed now. Hopefully, you do too.

From now on, I am not going to worry about the rumour and hearsay that will continue to drip from 1001 affiliates and less reputable news sites, which tend to hype any juicy snippet of this saga into a million wrong-headed conclusions.

It looks like the deal will happen. There’s just a few details left to iron out. It will take a few weeks. I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to report the deal when it really is finally done. So until it is, I’m gonna shut the hell up on the topic. I promise.

sah@gamingintelligence.com

PS. My fingers are crossed….just in case.

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