AGCC suspends Full Tilt's licenses

4 of a kind

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29 June 2011

Breaking news: Alderney suspends Full Tilt's operating licence 29/06/2011

Stephen Carter
Breaking news: Alderney suspends Full Tilt's operating licence

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has suspended Full Tilt’s licences, requiring the poker room to suspend all operations from the jurisdiction with immediate effect.

The AGCC said in a statement this morning: “The decision to suspend these licenses follows a special investigation prompted by the indictments unsealed by US Attorney General’s Office in the Southern District of New York on 15th April 2011, during which grounds were found to indicate that these licensees and their business associates were operating contrary to Alderney legislation."

More on this as we get it.
 

vinylweatherman

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29 June 2011

Breaking news: Alderney suspends Full Tilt's operating licence 29/06/2011

Stephen Carter
Breaking news: Alderney suspends Full Tilt's operating licence

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has suspended Full Tilt’s licences, requiring the poker room to suspend all operations from the jurisdiction with immediate effect.

The AGCC said in a statement this morning: “The decision to suspend these licenses follows a special investigation prompted by the indictments unsealed by US Attorney General’s Office in the Southern District of New York on 15th April 2011, during which grounds were found to indicate that these licensees and their business associates were operating contrary to Alderney legislation."

More on this as we get it.

So, Alderney only just found out they were serving US players, which is not allowed by Alderney rules.

They acted correctly, but they really should have known what ALL the poker players have known for a long time.

This also explains why other operators have been able to claim an Alderney license, yet at the same time be offering services to the US.

These licensing bodies should employ some PLAYERS on a consultancy basis, to feed them information about what is REALLY going on.
 

Rusty

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So, Alderney only just found out they were serving US players, which is not allowed by Alderney rules.

They acted correctly, but they really should have known what ALL the poker players have known for a long time.

This also explains why other operators have been able to claim an Alderney license, yet at the same time be offering services to the US.

These licensing bodies should employ some PLAYERS on a consultancy basis, to feed them information about what is REALLY going on.

There certainly is a reality gap between how people perceive these licensing authorities operating and how they actually operate.
For example I have contacted them on gaming matters and they simply do not understand even the most basic principles of how the various software operates (they do not even understand the term weighting apparently even though it used in every software - perhaps legally, perhaps not) and feel free to ask them how often they test software to ensure it is not being manipulated - you won't get an answer because they don't. They simply ensure it operates according to their regulations at the time of issuing the license - it is a bit of joke really and these are the best licensing authorities out there, scary.

I guess the obvious conclusion you make is correct, that this breach of licensing conditions pertains only to offering services to players in non legal jurisdictions but as far as I know there is not yet an official statement as to why the license was revoked.
 

Repro

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Update 18:27 - BREAKING NEWS - Fulltilt Poker License suspended
Tags: Alderney Gambling Control Commission, Black Friday, DOJ, Full Tilt Poker, Full tilt Poker down, License, PokerStars.
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 by "A".
Earlier today the following statement was issued by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission:

"Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has today issued Hearing Notices under Regulation 46 of its Regulations to Vantage Ltd. Oxalic Ltd, Filco Ltd and Orinic Ltd, collectively trading as FULL TILT POKER.

In addtion, AGCC has issued Suspension Notices under Regulation 47 to the above named companies requiring them to suspend all operations with immediate effect.

The decision to suspend these licenses follows a special investigation prompted by the indictments unsealed by US Attorney General's Office in the Southern District of New York on 15th April 2011, during which grounds were found to indicate that these licensees and their business associates were operating contrary to Alderney legislation. The nature of the findings necessitated the taking of immediate action in the public interest.

The venue and date for the hearing will be announced in due course.

Issued by: André Wilsenach (Executive Director), Alderney Gambling Control Commission, Alderney, Channel Islands.

Date issued: 29th June 2011"

Currently all tournaments on FULL TILT POKER is paused and no one can login to the software. In addition their website is stating "Scheduled Maintenance in Progress, The system is currently down for maintenance, please check back soon!"

More info when the story develops.

UPDATE 13:24 GMT

AGCC just released an additional statement that includes in addition to the above the following:

The above named companies must, until the Suspension Notices are cancelled or the Commissioners of AGCC have reached a determination at the conclusion of the hearing convened in accordance with Regulation 46 of the Alderney eGambling Regulations, 2009, cease to exercise their eGambling licenses, which means that these licensees must from today cease to:



Register new customers
Accept deposits from existing customers
Allow existing customers to withdraw funds that are held in their accounts; and
Permit customers to participate in any form of poker game play or gambling transaction
The Alderney Gambling Control Commission will hear the matters contained in the Hearing Notices at a Regulatory Hearing which will commence at 10.00am on Tuesday 26th July 2011, at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, 239 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 1EQ. In the even that there is a change to these details, this notice will be amended.

So far still not official statement from Fulltilt except the notice on their website. We will keep you updated as the story develops.
UPDATE 18.27 GMT

PokerStars has released the following statement:

"In light of today's news that Alderney Gambling Control Commission has suspended FULL TILT POKER's license, PokerStars wishes to assure our customers that their funds are completely safe and that our operations are completely unaffected. The Isle of Man Gaming Commission today re-affirmed that PokerStars' worldwide licensing is intact and that our operations are in full compliance with all of its requirements. PokerStars' online operations continue as normal and all funds in players' accounts are safe and available for withdrawal as usual with no delays.

PokerStars also remains in full compliance with our licenses in other jurisdictions where we are regulated, including France, Italy and Estonia.

As provided under our licensing, PokerStars has always maintained the integrity and security of our players' funds, by keeping all such funds in segregated bank accounts, always available for immediate withdrawal.

Since the actions of US Department of Justice (DOJ) in April, we have returned more than $120 million to US players and continue to act upon requests as they are received. Players outside the US have not been affected and all cash-outs have been processed without delays. Further, PokerStars entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice which expressly confirmed the company's ability to operate outside the US.

We will continue to operate as a responsible corporate citizen and are committed to serving the needs of our customers in complete compliance with our regulatory requirements."
 

jstrike

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Yes, all licensing jurisdictions basically operate on a quid pro quo / pay to play basis. Shocking? The licensing boards are concerned with one thing: Keeping themselves out of hot water.

What's interesting about this is that they never had a problem with FTP doing business in Australia, China, Japan, or dozens of other countries that have hard or fuzzy laws against online gambling all these years. Only the US could break them. It's obvious that the USDOJ reached out and put some kind of heavy screws on Alderney to shut FTP down, and whatever it was, it was going to cost Alderney more money than giving up the FTP revenue stream which by a blank estimate from our internal figures would only be worth aboouuuut... USD $4-6M per year to the government there, maybe less.

Nothing worth going to war with Ronald McDonald over.
 

vinylweatherman

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Yes, all licensing jurisdictions basically operate on a quid pro quo / pay to play basis. Shocking? The licensing boards are concerned with one thing: Keeping themselves out of hot water.

What's interesting about this is that they never had a problem with FTP doing business in Australia, China, Japan, or dozens of other countries that have hard or fuzzy laws against online gambling all these years. Only the US could break them. It's obvious that the USDOJ reached out and put some kind of heavy screws on Alderney to shut FTP down, and whatever it was, it was going to cost Alderney more money than giving up the FTP revenue stream which by a blank estimate from our internal figures would only be worth aboouuuut... USD $4-6M per year to the government there, maybe less.

Nothing worth going to war with Ronald McDonald over.

That is actually quite a bit for a tiny Island state like Alderney.

What seems MORE worrying is that PLAYERS have had their monies frozen by Alderney, whilst at the same time there is supposed to be an agreement in place with the DoJ that would allow US players to cash out and close their accounts.

There could be more to this than merely serving US players. Maybe Alderney has discovered that the operation was seriously underfunded, and freezing everything pending an investigation was the only way to ensure that EVERYBODY would be treated fairly. I expect the OPERATOR'S assets have been frozen too, probably to prevent them moving money out of the reach of Alderney regulators.

Player money is supposed to be separate from company money, and maybe Alderney has seen further problems with this.

This means that ALL players, not just in the US, have lost access to their money for now. I am sure though that Alderney will make sure that players get their money back in the end, even if it means the operator being wound up. Having players lose money in an Alderney regulated operation would be a blow to their credibilty.
 

jetset

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FULL TILT POKER DEAL CLOSE TO COMPLETION (Update)

And those rumours about Ray Bitar and Alderney are just not true

Lawyers on the inside of takeover negotiations between a group of as yet unidentified European investors and the beleaguered online poker operator Full Tilt Poker have been leaking information this week, disclosing Thursday that the talks are going well and an agreement is in sight.

And it has been confirmed that wild rumours published by some information sites recently that Ray Bitar had been unseated as CEO at Full Tilt, and that the Alderney Gambling Control Commission was about to lift its suspension of FTP's licence have been described as "nonsense" and "tosh" (incorrect).

Those involved in the discussions are apparently hopeful that a much needed and very substantial injection of capital into the company will enable it to meet US Department of Justice requirements that American players be refunded, and that accomplishing this may relieve the enforcement pressure on the company and its executives, who would presumably then agree to stay out of the US market in a settlement with the authorities.

This may also serve to defang other legal initiatives against Full Tilt such as the recently launched class action by players (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Discussions have apparently also been held with the regulators in Alderney and France, where ARJEL recently suspended FTP's French activities.

The identity of the investors talking to Full Tilt has still not been disclosed, although insiders have hinted that they are from the financial sector and have not previously been involved in the online gambling business. Clearly they have deep pockets, with player refunds unofficially estimated at around $150 million.
 

vinylweatherman

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I heard FT might be able to get their license from Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

This should only be allowed if they pay all the monies owed to players, and strike deals acceptable to their suppliers. Any less would do damage to the reputation of Kahnawake, and undo all they have done recently to convince everybody they are being serious about player protection, and active policing of it's licensees. The Kahnawake also have to consider their actions in light of their possible inclusion as a UK whitelisted territory, since the last time they applied they were turned down, and lost many operators to Malta - who then went on to make Kahnawake look good, and the UK whitelist as a player protection measure something of a joke.

This may just be a rumour without substance, and the first the KGC have heard about it.
 

jetset

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I heard FT might be able to get their license from Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

This was a rumour doing the rounds which led to some unsubstantiated publicity around the end of June. The KGC indicated that there was no such arrangement and in fact issued a statement that advised that it was conducting a review of the Kolyma (FTP) licence of its own following the AGCC suspension - KGC and AGCC have a working relationship.

This was all reported in Casinomeister News btw.

The AGCC hearing on FTP is being held in London on July 16, if memory serves me correctly.

I think the more likely outcome here is that the AGCC will have to be satisfied that there is both the means and the will to pay players - especially in the US - before FTP can move forward. Anything less and they would lose credibility.

And by the looks of things that is dependent on this substantial inflow of capital from still unidentified European investors.
 

jetset

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Correction - I've just re-checked the date of the AGCC hearing and it's July 26th.
 

jetset

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Update

DAY OF DRAMA AT ONLINE POKER HEARING

Walkouts and pleas for privacy at Alderney Gaming Control Commission hearing

The keenly anticipated Alderney Gaming Control Commission hearing into the suspension of the Full Tilt Poker licence started half-an-hour late in London Tuesday morning, and after some drama turned out to be something of a damp squib.

The venue was packed with journalists and other interested parties when lawyers from the UK firm Jeffrey Green Russell almost immediately appealed to the three commissioners controlling the hearing that its proceedings be carried out in private for the protection of Full Tilt Poker on three grounds:

* That it was in the interests of justice and did no harm to the proceedings to hold the hearing privately;

* That for reasons of confidential commercial sensitivity involving negotiations for a potential new investor, it could be prejudicial to Full Tilt to hear the matter publicly;

* That there were US legal implications that might be affected by public disclosures.

Noting the possibility that sensitive and confidential information might be disclosed in the hearings if they continued to be open to the media and the public at large, Full Tilt legal representative Martin Heslop said, “It is not in the interest of justice that this should be aired in public. There is a real risk that it may be detrimental to these interests and highly prejudicial to this decision.”

Heslop delivered an interesting snippet of new information himself, telling the commissioners that the only reason that Full Tilt had not paid GBP250 000 in licensing fees to the AGCC was that they expected the licence suspension to extend to expiry. However, he pointed out, the company would be happy to pay the outstanding fees if there was still a chance that the AGCC would allow them to operate under its licensing regime.

The argument caused some "chicken and egg" comment on the apparent impasse of Full Tilt effectively saying “no money without a licence,” while the AGCC stance appeared to be “no licence without the money.”

The commissioners adjourned for over an hour to discuss the application for an adjournment and a private hearing before returning with the decision that there would be no adjournment, but that the remainder of the hearing would be held in camera.

At this point there was a disturbance as the Brit poker pro Harry Demetriou loudly voiced his disapproval, accusing FTP of being corrupt and shouting "What about the players?" before storming out of the venue to loud applause from an audience clearly disappointed at the way things were going.

The commissioners then adjourned to hear the legal arguments in private later in the day.

Full Tilt Poker is reportedly in talks with private investors interested in the company, although it has yet to pay its players following its shutdown on Black Friday, and the subsequent suspension of its licence in Europe with the Alderney Gaming Control Commission and Arjel - the French regulator, which has confirmed that its suspension will remain in force.

Full Tilt legal representatives appeared to be hoping that the AGCC would reinstate Full Tilt's licence.

Jason Hill, representing the AGCC, said that two of the charges against FTP related to allegations of non-payment of licence fees amounting to GBP250,000.

The rather frustrating day ended early evening London time with the announcement that in the interests of justice and the best interest of Full Tilt customers, the hearing was adjourned to allow Full Tilt to continue its advanced investment negotiations, hopefully resulting in a better outcome for the players.

The AGCC announced that the decision was not lightly taken, and the hearing will reconvene at a place and time to be advised no later than September 15, 2011.
 

jetset

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Update

FULL TILT POKER'S LICENCE VALID AGAIN (Update)

Online poker operator pays GBP250 000 in outstanding licence fees

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission has confirmed that the embattled online poker operator Full Tilt Poker has paid outstanding licence fees totaling GBP250 000, and that the company's licence will be considered valid until the next hearing.

In a notification late Friday, the AGCC reminded interested parties of the events of Black Friday in April of this year, noting that individuals associated with Full Tilt Poker had been involved in allegations of bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offences.

"The AGCC, which licenses FTP, began immediate discussions with FTP’s management in order to protect the interests of players," the statement notes.

It adds that following AGCC investigations the relevant licenses for FTP were suspended on June 29, and that in addition the Commission had imposed a requirement that the licensees comprising FTP must arrange for the ring-fencing of identified players’ funds under their control.

This aspect of safeguarding player deposits has been the subject of heated discussion, as Full Tilt has yet to pay its players, and the rival Isle of Man jurisdiction has drawn attention to its more stringent demands that its licensees ring-fence player funds.

The new AGCC statement recalls the events of July 26, when its public hearing on the Full Tilt case controversially excluded the public by holding private exchanges between the parties involved and then adjourning until a date "no later than September 15 to allow Full Tilt to pursue its negotiations with potential investors, which the Commissioners felt was in the best interests of the players.

The most interesting part of the statement comes next, where the AGCC reveals that the GBP250 000 in outstanding licence fees mentioned in the preliminary stage of the July 26 hearing has now been paid:

"The recent payment of overdue licence fees by FTP is also in players’ best interests since it allows commercial negotiations to take place that might result in a successful refinancing deal.

"Further details regarding the exact date and venue of the next hearing will be announced as soon as possible."

The AGCC has since confirmed that Full Tilt Poker’s licence will be considered valid until the next hearing.

Having valid licensing will be a positive card for Full Tilt to play in its exchanges with a reportedly European group of investors. The negotations have been ongoing for several weeks now, and the consensus is that the fresh capital it could bring to the company is necessary to get players paid.

Earlier this month the Kahnawake Gaming Commission confirmed that it has renewed FTP's secondary gaming licence.

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jetset

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Update

FULL TILT SEEKING NEW INVESTORS

Apologises for lack of communication to customers

Beleaguered online poker company Poker Kings Ltd has issued a press release on the status of the Full Tilt brand with regard to potential investors.

In a short statement issued to PokerNews, the company confirms that while it continues discussions with its current investor, it is now seeking additional potential investors with a view to concluding the sale/partnership of the Full Tilt Poker brand.

The company blames legal and financial issues arising from "Black Friday", coupled with the need for potential investors' confidentiality for its uncommunicative stance with customers and apologises accordingly.
 

Luckylizzy

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Here's the Quote from that Press Release About Investor Update

“On August 16, Irish based Pocket Kings Ltd., brand executor for the Full Tilt Poker moniker, concluded the exclusivity period of negotiations with their current potential investor.

While Pocket Kings Ltd. plans to continue discussions with its current investor, the company has now begun negotiations with additional potential investors to conclude the sale/partnership of the Full Tilt Poker brand and its assets.

Full Tilt Poker apologizes for its lack of communication with its customers over the last month and a half, but it has been grappling with unexpected and complex legal and financial issues arising from Black Friday and its aftermath. In addition, the company has had to be circumspect about disclosing the progress of negotiations with potential investors because there is often a requirement of strict confidentiality.

To the extent that it can do so without jeopardizing future opportunities, Full Tilt Poker will strive to have better communication with its customers going forward. Full Tilt Poker’s number one priority remains the same: to secure an infusion of capital to repay all of its worldwide customers.”

This is from an article at Pokernews
 
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