The traditional cacophony surrounding Full Tilt Poker (FTP) has been a relatively dull roar this past week, so we’re using this eye of the shitstorm to clean out the backlog of minor developments.
✖ On Wednesday, Swiss media outlet Tribune de Genève reported the court-ordered seizure of $18m from Swiss bank accounts on Sept. 26. The accounts belonged to 10 US residents with connections to the online poker outfits named in the Black Friday indictments. Prosecutor Dario Zanni refused to exclude the possibility that there may be more seizures of poker-related accounts from Swiss banks.
✖ French media outlets have released a few interviews with Laurent Tapie, son of French businessman/bon vivant/ex-con Bernard Tapie. Laurent (ex- Partouche Interactive) is leading the charge to acquire FTP’s remnants, provided the US Department of Justice signs off on a plan. Our French translator was otherwise occupied – which bites, because her little black and white maid outfit really brightens up the office — so we’ll have to paraphrase Tapie Junior’s pronouncements.
Speaking to La Tribune, Laurent painted himself as FTP’s sole hope, that nobody else seemed interested in tackling this ‘scary’ and ‘complicated’ issue. While acknowledging that FTP’s shareholders drank deeply from the company trough, Laurent claims FTP’s accounts were offset by ‘reserves’ and ‘letters of credit,’ and it was DoJ interference with these assets that caused FTP’s financial crunch. Laurent’s peeps continue to discuss FTP’s liabilities with the DoJ, and Laurent optimistically suggested any financial penalty would be limited to ‘tens of millions’ of dollars. As for FTP’s value, Laurent says his current bid is $1, given that any takeover would involve assuming responsibility for those DoJ penalties and the hundreds of millions of dollars still owed to FTP’s players.
Speaking to LeJournalduNet, Laurent described his interest in FTP as twofold: it’s big and it’s in trouble. Laurent thinks very highly of FTP’s software and figures its players do too, meaning they’ll return in droves if/when FTP rises Phoenix-like from the ashes of Black Friday. Laurent said any deal to clear up FTP’s current legal woes would need to come with DoJ assurances that new charges/claims won’t be forthcoming six months down the road. Once new owners and management are installed, Laurent doesn’t anticipate getting a new operating license, whether from FTP’s former regulators at the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) or from another jurisdiction.
If/when the deal is done, Laurent intends to retain majority control in the new FTP. As for how he’d finance the takeover, Laurent claims ‘several people’ had expressed interest in coming on board, but that the process was still ‘early’, and besides, father Bernard is, like, stupid rich. Laurent denied that his interest in FTP was as a necessary component of his much-ballyhooed/derided live poker promotion, the International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT). However, Laurent confirmed that the ISPT would take a small ownership interest in the new FTP, and that ‘synergies’ might develop over time.
As for the ISPT’s debut event at London’s Wembley Stadium next fall, Laurent still hasn’t applied for the necessary licenses, but believes there’s a lack of ‘suspense’ surrounding his ability to get them in time. Asked whether the ISPT would ever take up residence in the Stade de France, Laurent practically recoiled in horror at the mere mention of the French gaming market. Laurent suggested that no French license holder was making any money because regulators had imposed conditions so restrictive that it had made the market unprofitable.
✖ In the wake of FTP’s implosion on their watch, the AGCC has decided to conduct a review of its processes. (The next stop on their 12-step public mea culpa tour.) Exec director Andre Wilsenach said it was “important we learn from experiences … and we might introduce changes if we find that there’s things that we could do better from our side.”
✖ The AGCC better save some of its strength for its (possible) upcoming battle against Antanas ‘Tony G’ Guoga. On Oct. 9, Tony tweeted that he was taking a “very big step” that was going to give FTP players “a genuine chance to get there [sic] money.” Tony vowed he was “putting the finishing touches” on “something completely new” that represented “a real genuine option” for players to get paid. The veil was lifted Oct. 12, when Tony’s site PokerNews.com reported that the boss was considering taking legal action against the AGCC for failing to exhibit due diligence on FTP. Hear that? He’s considering it. How considerate. Consider us impressed. Now consider us gone.