✖ Blanca Games has issued a statement attempting to quash bankruptcy rumors that arose from the shutdown of Medeira Fjord, the Norwegian shell company set up to process debt payments to AP/UB shareholders. The Blanca release says the Medeira bankruptcy is an entirely separate issue that has no impact on AP/UB operations. Blanca also restated that AP/UB have ‘liquidated’ their workforce but are in the process of rehiring “20% of staff in key positions” to help with “consolidating its non-US, rest-of-the-world operation and software business.”
✖ The above scenario is a far rosier picture than the one being painted over at Haley Hintze’s blog. Hintze claims to have obtained a testy late-April email exchange between Olman Rimola (head of IDS, AP/UB’s customer service arm in Costa Rica) and Paul Legett (who’s worn a number of hats, including COO of UB.com parent Tokwiro Enterprises). Rimola begins by pointing out that the legal minimum severance payout to IDS’ 300+ employees equals $2.75m, an amount that Rimola claimed yet to have received from AP/UB.
Rimola then says that if the money is not received by May 3, he will “contact FBI agents, who are right now in Costa Rica, and I will reveal all the information I have of Absolute Poker and UltimateBet operations, including full detail of original shareholders, corporate structure, processing procedures, all related companies, lawyers, executives, bank statements, bank wires, emails and instructions I have received, etc.” Rimola suggests the FBI would be happy to grant him immunity in exchange for this information. Rimola follows this up with a warning: “If anything happens to me, or people close to me, I have prepared 3 sets of this information which are in the hands of 3 different lawyers, with instructions to proceed with US Embassy and Costa Rican authorities.”
Legget’s response claims that he is “shocked” (shocked!) by Rimola’s message, as “it contradicts everything that you said earlier in this week.” Leggett then asks for a detailed list of IDS liquidations so he can discuss with Stuart Gordon. Rimola replies that “there is nothing to discuss here,” and closes with “Clock is ticking, don’t waste your time…” Note that the ‘termination memo’ reportedly sent out to CR employees that claimed “IDS liquidations have been previously funded in full to Olman Rimola” was dated May 2, the last day before Rimola’s threatened FBI deadline. Coincidence?
✖ While PokerStars has been putting smiles on the faces of its US players by initiating the process of payouts, Full Tilt continues to issue only statements, none of which address the issue of when US players might see their money again. The latest update from ‘FTPDoug’ included all manner of detail on what will happen to players’ Tournament Tickets and Iron Man Medals, but nothing about their bankrolls. As one poster responded: “awesome, all of our theoretical tournament tickets will be converted to theoretical money.” Considering the deal that PokerStars reached with the DoJ to facilitate payouts was identical to the one reached with Full Tilt, Tilt’s inability to match Stars’ response raises serious questions about Full Tilt’s money management.
✖ Forbes reports that federal prosecutors have filed forfeiture papers against five homes connected with Black Friday indictees. Four of the residences are connected to Full Tilt founder Ray Bitar, all located in Glendora, CA, including a 5,100 sq. ft. Tuscan estate that Bitar bought in 2008 for $2.9m. The fifth was a 7,200-sq. ft. estate in a Las Vegas gated community purchased for $1.5m just last year by Playboy Playmate Destiny Davis, who had the bloody good sense to marry payment processor Chad Elie the day after Black Friday. Oh well, what price love, right? Right? [crickets] Anyway, the seizures show that the Feds are in no way done hunting for Black Friday-related assets.✖ While discussing his company’s latest quarterly figures with market analysts, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren was asked about the recent ‘let us B&M casino guys handle online poker’ op-ed by Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman. Suffice to say, Murren is on board. “I thought it was outstanding. It was well-written, it was comprehensive, it was to the point and it’s an opinion that I agree with – as does our company. (In general), we work well with Caesars Entertainment and many other gaming companies to help try to craft legislation that makes sense.” Seen in conjunction with the news that Las Vegas Sands has joined the Nevada Resort Association (the other NRA), it’s clear the land-based casino crowd are gearing up for a major lobbying push. If WikiLeaks taught us anything about Sheldon Adelson, it’s that he doesn’t fuck around.
✖ It won’t have anywhere near the impact Adelson will command, but the Poker Players Alliance is hosting their third ‘Washington Fly In’ on May 24, during which PPA lobbyists, 30 PPA State Directors and some poker pros will meet with around 120 ‘targeted’ members of the House and Senate. The event was originally scheduled for September, but has been moved up given the circumstances. Any poker players who can make it to the Swamp on the day are encouraged to contact the PPA at email@example.com.
✖ We all did a double-take when Sen. Jon Kyl apparently softened his stance vis à vis online gambling, but has the Kyl virus spread to fellow anti-gambling cohort Rep. Spencer Bachus? Bachus recently told the Washington Post that he had little sympathy for the players who may have lost their bank rolls as a result of Back Friday. “When you’re dealing with a criminal enterprise, you should not be surprised when you are cheated or taken advantage of.” However, Bachus went on to say: “For years, I have been warning about the particular dangers illegal Internet gambling poses…” [emphasis added] So, does that mean Bachus, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and thus the cork in the bottle keeping any online poker bills from reaching a vote on the House floor, now has less of a problem with a legal gambling environment?