✖ French gaming regulator Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne (ARJEL) has suspended Full Tilt Poker’s French operating license, following a scheduled meeting on July 4. After the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) suspended FTP’s operating license last week, ARJEL publicly warned FTP that failure to restore their .fr site’s accessibility to French citizens “without delay” would “draw the consequences,” and now the merde appears to have hit the fan. The suspension appears to be temporary, but ARJEL did not indicate by what means FTP might remedy the situation (other than inventing a time machine).
According to ARJEL’s press release, four days after the Black Friday indictments against FTP principals and related companies, ARJEL requested documentation from FTP to prove that they had sufficient capital on hand to refund player deposits. In May, ARJEL ordered FTP to reapply for a gaming license, which FTP duly submitted June 17. After reviewing this application, ARJEL found FTP’s information to be incomplete, and on June 24 ARJEL gave FTP 15 days to fill in the blanks. Then on June 29, the AGCC yanked FTP’s license, and you know the rest.
✖ On Sunday, André Wilsenach, exec director of the AGCC, also released a brief statement regarding FTP that addresses the rumored “unnamed European investors” deal mentioned late last week by both the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal:
The AGCC is in discussions, all be at [sic] an early stage, with its licensees trading as Full Tilt Poker and a third party concerning the prospective refinancing of Full Tilt Poker. The objective of these discussions is to enable the site to re-open to its current and prospective players.
Contrary to current reports circulating in the media, AGCC has not authorised any statement by legal counsel in this regard and has no knowledge of the comments attributed by the editor of Gambling City.net to a Mr. Werner Bers, of whom we are otherwise unaware, and disputes the correctness of his statement.
The GamblingCity.net article referred to above quoted Mr. Bers as saying the AGCC had pulled FTP’s plug due to the illegality of FTP’s activities in America, rather than an inability to pay players.
✖ Also on Monday, an anonymous person claiming to be an ‘FTP Insider’ briefly appeared on the 2+2 forums with the announced intent of answering players’ questions (as best he/she could without revealing their true identity). While FTPinsider88 was able to correctly identify (a) what the Pocket Kings staff were served for lunch in the cafeteria that day and (b) the word FTP admins use internally for adding money to player accounts (‘slushing’, in case you were curious), players did not come away with many of the answers they were seeking.
The highlights of FTPinsider88’s Q&A were as follows: The unnamed European investors deal is 75% done, with the remaining details expected to be worked out this week. No matter who ends up controlling the company, re-entering the US market before favorable poker legislation is enacted “is just not an option.” Oh, and the main reason player funds were not segregated from operating capital? “Incompetence.”
✖ If/when these unnamed European investors announce a completed deal, it will be interesting to see what it means for FTP’s future prospects. While the rumored $150m cash injection should be sufficient to refund US player deposits, what then? With no US market profits to count on and a badly bruised brand, the company will essentially be starting from scratch, requiring at least another $50-100m in ready funds to make a proper go of things. Not to mention the issue of those hefty fines sought by the US Department of Justice via the Black Friday indictments. How many more deep-pocketed white knights can there be lurking in Europe’s crumbling castles?