Online poker giant PokerStars is following through on its promise to repay customers of former competitor Full Tilt Poker, which was shut down in 2011 - leaving millions of players without access to their bankrolls.
PokerStars issued a press release Monday indicating it is going ahead with its intention to pay out $184 million to former Full Tilt players living outside the United States.
"PokerStars has been working with regulators in all relevant jurisdictions to ensure that repayment is conducted in strict compliance with local regulatory requirements that ensure the security of player accounts and confirmation of the rightful ownership of those accounts," the statement read.
According to the release, PokerStars plans to relaunch FullTiltPoker.com in early November - restoring a popular alternative for players who preferred FTP's superior software over that of PokerStars. It also expands the company's player database, as not all FTP players migrated to PokerStars when the former site was taken down.
The repayment announcement is a much-needed injection of good news for frustrated FTP users who were left with nothing after the FBI rounded up owners of the world's largest online poker sites amid allegations of money laundering and bank fraud. PokerStars survived the purge, but FTP did not - it was rendered insolvent and eventually collapsed, while online poker was banned across the United States and has yet to return.
PokerStars reached an agreement to purchase FTP through the Department of Justice for $731 million. The majority of funds - $547 million - will be funneled back to jilted American players through the DOJ. Details of that remission process remain unclear.
As for the non-U.S. players affected, PokerStars laid out the payment plan in the release:
-- Those in France, Spain, Estonia, Belgium and Denmark will be required to create a PokerStars account - if they haven't done so already - and will be repaid through the "twinning" of their FTP account and their PokerStars account.
-- Those in Italy may have to wait a while, as PokerStars is still discussing repayment options with the Italian government.
-- Players from all other non-U.S. countries will have access to their outstanding funds once FTP relaunches.
PokerStars spokesman Eric Hollreiser believes the company stands to gain a great deal through the relaunch of FTP.
“We think that will actually help grow the market,” Hollreiser said. “Our research and conversation with players tells us that people like to play on more than one site, and [the] Full Tilt brand was much loved.”