After well over a year of legal battles and negotiations with the United States Department of Justice, PokerStars, which is the largest online poker group in the world, has at last reached a settlement to buy FullTilt Poker. The settlement involves PokerStars paying out huge amounts of money to acquire FullTilt and to repay the millions of dollars still owed to players by FullTilt Poker.
There had been rumours of the purchase of FullTilt by PokerStars especially since a deal by the Group Bernard Tapie to buy the group fell through.This settlement may be the final chapter in the FullTilt saga which began on the 15th of April 2011 when federal agents seized the domain names of three online poker sites, PokerStars, FullTilt poker and Absolute Poker. The sites were closed down and 11 people were charged with illegal gambling, fraud and money laundering. Shortly after this seizure by the Department of Justice, PokerStars paid the amounts due to its players and carried on its activities in other countries apart from the United States.
However Full Tilt was unable to pay back the over 350 million dollars it is claimed that it owes to its players worldwide. When Ray Bitar, the ex- FullTilt Poker Chief Executive Officer recently returned voluntarily from Ireland, where FullTilt was based to the United States to deal with the problems linked to Full Tilt, he was arrested on landing at the Kennedy airport in New York. (See article: The FullTiltPoker Saga continues).
There are many conditions attached to PokerStars’ purchase of FullTilt Poker. Over the next three years, PokerStars will give the United States government 547 million dollars to be used to repay American based clients of FullTilt Poker. FullTilt clients outside the United States will be repaid directly by PokerStars which will cost a further 184 million dollars. Under the terms of the agreement PokerStars has not admitted to any wrongdoing and when and if online poker is legalised in the United States the company will be allowed to apply for a licence to offer poker to American players.Poker Stars plans to re-launch Full Tilt Poker as a separate brand and to have the online poker site up and running as soon as possible.