US One Tiny Step Closer to Paying Full Tilt Players

For all of you ex-members of Full Tilt Poker who reside in the United States, don’t get too excited just yet. While there are newsworthy developments in the eventual repayment of American poker player’s funds, the US government has only taken the smallest of steps in coming closer to that day, which is, at the least, something to be thankful for.

An update in the case was announced on Tuesday by the US Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Southern District of New York. According to the proclamation, they are now evaluating claims administrators to handle the reimbursements.

This is only the slightest step forward, as it was a full two months ago that the USAO posted a job notice to take applications for claims administrators to handle refunds in the ongoing Full Tilt case. As part of the announcement, Full Tilt’s players were told that the actual procedures of a potential claims administrator will not begin until, at the earliest, January of 2013.

Saying that this is going to be an immense job is a severe understatement. The employment notice requested inquiries from interested parties who would be responsible for numerous activities in the case, including things like the acquisition and evaluation of financial transaction records from claimants, and analysis of the entire Full Tilt Poker database of applicable user account records.

In order to apply for the colossal position, each claims administrator was expected to provide a complete resume, detailing their level of experience with claims and any relevant areas of expertise. If for any reason there might be a conflict of interest regarding an applicant’s ability to perform the tasks needed, applicants were required to divulge this information as well.

It is estimated that Full Tilt Poker’s American player base is owed a cumulative sum of $159 million dollars, to be allocated appropriately between roughly 1.3 million players. That’s 1.3 million claims to review, 1.3 million records to analyze.

On the plus side, all of the money to be repaid is already set aside, thanks to PokerStars, who paid a grand total of $731 million to the US DOJ to cover their own fines, repayment of US and international members of Full Tilt Poker, as well as acquisition of the Full Tilt brand.

Last week, it was reported that representatives of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) met with the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Division of the Department of Justice to examine the current status of player refunds. John Pappas, executive director of the PPA, called the meeting “cordial and productive”.

Pappas released a statement from the PPA that said, “Unfortunately, completion of a refund claims process is a long way away. The first step in this process will be the Department’s hiring of a third-party claims administrator, after a bidding process: there is no current date certain for that selection to occur. But it was evident that even when a claims administrator is hired, forfeiture and remission procedures require that a substantial administrative process be adhered to before players begin seeing their funds.”

While a date for actual repayment of Full Tilt’s American player base is surely a very long way from fruition, at least we can finally see miniature steps being taken, preliminary dates being set, and some type of actions being performed.