On Thursday, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) released a statement regarding licensee Blanca Games (which controls Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet, the two halves of the Cereus network) and the millions of dollars owed to players since the two poker companies were indicted on Black Friday. The statement reads (in part):
Over the past several weeks, [KGC] were advised of a potential solution prepared by Blanca and its representatives, establishing a process to liquidate Blanca’s assets and distribute proceeds to players. We understand that this process has been presented to [the US Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York] for consideration and approval. The Commission’s foremost concern in this matter has been, and remains, the reimbursement of both US and non-US players, as quickly and completely as possible. To avoid further prejudice to affected players, the Commission has demanded that all parties complete their discussions and implement a reimbursement solution without further delay.
Lest players get too excited about this statement, all it really says is that Blanca has come up with a plan. (We presume Muammar Gaddafi also had some kind of plan in his head when he crawled into that drainpipe, but he still ended up with some unidentified stick-like object stuck up his ass.) Whether Blanca’s plan floats the DoJ’s boat is an entirely different matter. It’s also worth remembering that BetOnSports owed millions to its players when it collapsed, but even with DoJ involvement, it took four years for players to receive a measly four cents on the dollar.
The timing of this statement is presumably related to the Oct. 31 deadline for Blanca to respond to the DoJ’s amended complaint (Sept. 29) against the poker companies indicted on Black Friday. The DoJ reportedly made a deal with AP/UB in May to repay players, but five months later, US players are still waiting. Whether they’re waiting for pennies on the dollar or a stick up the ass remains to be seen.
The Blanca folks have no doubt been very grateful that most of the poker media’s attention has been squarely focused on the train wreck that is Full Tilt Poker (FTP). However, PokerStrategy.com has uncovered recently unsealed court documents that confirm FTP is in discussions with the US Attorneys for the District of Maryland to unfreeze certain seized bank accounts, and that these discussions are apparently making enough headway that the DoJ is willing to waive certain deadlines in order to keep this momentum going.
The Swiss bank accounts in question were under the name of Ranston Ltd., but the court documents claim the DoJ has been talking with Barry Boss, an attorney representing a company called Randson Ltd., “which appears to be the owner of the two accounts.” In an Oct. 21 letter to the judge overseeing the case, Catherine C. Blake, US Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein claims he and Boss “have opened discussions towards a potential settlement of the interests in the Ranston accounts. In order to facilitate the settlement process, the government has agreed to waive all filing time limits for Ranston while we are making progress with settlement discussions.” If that progress ultimately fails to produce a solution, Rosenstein will report as much to the court no later than Dec. 21, 2011.