Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars to Get Domains Back

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In an agreement released by the US Attorney’s Office today, 4-20-2011, Pokerstars.com and FullTiltPoker.com domain names are to be returned for use by their respective poker companies. The use will be very limited, and under the agreement the sites are to allow no play for real money, or anything of value, for US players. The agreement specifically allows for the sites to offer poker games for the rest of the world.


As many of you already know, the domains where seized on what is becoming known as Black Friday in the poker world. On Friday April 15, 2011 the US government unsealed a indictment charging 11 people with multiple crimes including fraud and money laundering. Five domain names where seized, and the alleged assets where frozen in over 75 bank accounts.


The deal released today is claimed to be to facilitate the withdraw of US players funds. You can read the US Attorney’s release here. Full Tilt Poker has put out their own press release:

Full Tilt Poker™ is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to regain the use of its worldwide domain name, www.fulltiltpoker.com.

Although players in the United States will not be permitted to engage in real-money play, the agreement expressly allows for real-money play outside of the United States.

In addition, the agreement represents an important first step towards returning funds to U.S. players because it allows Full Tilt Poker to utilize its domain to facilitate the withdrawal of player funds. But, unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future. As a result of the recent enforcement action, there exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds; Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government; and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players. Finally, there are numerous legal and jurisdictional issues that must be considered before poker winnings can be paid out to players throughout the United States. While Full Tilt Poker continues to believe that online poker is not illegal under federal law or in 49 states, the indictment and civil forfeiture action filed last Friday require Full Tilt Poker to proceed with caution in this area.

Notwithstanding these issues, Full Tilt Poker is ready to work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to try and resolve these issues and to get players their money back as soon as possible.

Pokerstars has also just released a statement confirming their involvment in this deal.

Statement from PokerStars – as at 20 April 2011 – 16:00 BST
PokerStars is pleased to confirm that the US Department of Justice has agreed to release the NOTICE domain name for use by PokerStars outside the US.
The company categorically denies the allegations brought by the US Department of Justice on 15th April 2011 and is taking all steps necessary to robustly defend itself, and the two named individuals. Meanwhile, the company has stopped offering real money poker services in the United States.
PokerStars’ services outside the US are not affected. The Company has received assurance from the Isle of Man regulator that its licence status is unchanged. The company remains compliant with all of its other international licences.
Following discussions with the US Department of Justice, PokerStars has now entered into an Agreement which has been publicly filed. The US Department of Justice Agreement expressly states that the domain name can be used by PokerStars outside the US to facilitate the provision of real money poker services, and that PokerStars can pay out player balances to its former customers in the US.
Returning US players’ funds is a top priority for PokerStars and the company can now start the process of returning money to its former US customers.
All PokerStars player deposits are completely safe. The Isle of Man’s strict licensing laws (similar to other jurisdictions where PokerStars holds licences) require all funds to be held in accounts that are segregated from company assets. PokerStars has always complied with this requirement and continues to do so. This money is readily available to meet withdrawal demands, indeed the company continues to comply with withdrawal requests from players based outside the US as normal.
Outside the US PokerStars continues to operate business as usual.
About PokerStars
PokerStars.com is the world’s largest poker site, with more daily tournaments and cash games than anywhere else, and with the best security online.
PokerStars operates worldwide under license from the Isle of Man Government. PokerStars family include PokerStars.fr, which operates in France under the French government license, as well as PokerStars.it, which operates in Italy under the Italian government license, and PokerStars.ee, which operates in Estonia under the Estonian government license.
For further information contact: press@pokerstars.net

This is of course great news for players with bankrolls on FTP or PokerStars. Also mentioned in the US Attorney’s statement is a willingness to offer the same deal to Absolute poker. At the time of this writing real money play from US player is still allowed on the Cereus poker network(the home of UB and Absolute). Time will tell how this playes out.

If you are a US player in need of a poker site you will find the sites still allowing US players here.