Full Tilt Poker to regain domains, pay U.S. players

PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have reached a deal with Department of Justice that allows them to regain their domain names in return for blocking U.S. real-money play and return money to American players. The deal comes less than a week after the U.S. Department of Justice seized the domain names and indicted the owners of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, the three largest online poker rooms that had been operating in the United States.

According to a DOJ press release, the return of the domains will “facilitate the return of money so that players can register their refund requests.”

Absolute Poker, which has not blocked Americans, has been offered the same deal but as the release of the DOJ press release, had not accepted. Both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker blocked American players from real-money play just hours after the indictments were announced.

“No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in the press release. “Each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player’s deposited funds. In fact, this Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players.”

The agreement also expressly allows for the companies to continue to offer real-money poker games to players outside of the United States.

However, it still could be some time before Americans see the funds in those online poker accounts.

“Unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future,” reads a press release from Full Tilt Poker. “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.”

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