On April 15, 2011, a day that has been dubbed “Black Friday” in the poker community, the DOJ shut down the American operations of three major sites: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Ultimate Bet.
Michael Kaplan has an update on the story:
In January of this year, Full Tilt and the DOJ worked out an arrangement in which the DOJ took ownership of Full Tilt with the intention of selling it to raise funds to pay back American players. Seven months later, on July 31, PokerStars purchased Full Tilt from the DOJ. Businessweek estimated that the transaction would make $547 million for the U.S. government. At the time, the DOJ vowed to reimburse Full Tilt’s U.S. players; Stars said that it would take responsibility for returning $184 million to non-American customers.
PokerStars followed through on its end of the deal and recently relaunched the Full Tilt site outside of the U.S.
So has the DOJ paid the U.S. players? Of course not.
According to Steven L. Kessler, an attorney based in New York City who specializes in forfeiture law…“In one of its publications [the 'National Asset Forfeiture Strategic Plan 2008–2012'], the government talks about bringing in $2 billion in forfeitures and returning only $700 million.” Recouping Full Tilt funds will be “a long, drawn-out process to the point that you will need to be out five or six or seven figures for it to be worth pursuing. The system is set up so that you are discouraged from going after your money….Plus, look at what you’re exposing to get back what belongs to you. You have to wonder if it will turn into a tax case.”
In other words, as in other asset forfeiture cases, the government is grabbing up property and keeping as much as it can for its own coffers. Even if some of these sites were fraudulent, one wonders if the players would not have better off without government “protection.”
The full article also includes a good markets in everything item.
Hat tip: Ben Mathis-Lilley.