By JAMES PUGSLEY, 16th December, 2011
Continuing the complicated process leading to Full Tilt’s re-emergence into the online poker market, Subject Poker today confirmed from multiple sources that Full Tilt’s shareholders have reached a two thirds majority vote to pass company assets onto french investment firm Groupe Bernard Tapie. The majority vote follows GBT’s agreement with the American Department of Justice, roughly one month ago. The deal allowed GBT to purchase Full Tilt’s forfeited assets from the DOJ for around $80 million, provided that FTP agreed to the transfer, and GBT pay back player funds internationally. While in terms of the American market, the DOJ itself will handle the repayment of around $150 million owed to U.S. based players.
Essentially the DOJ has acted as the mediator in this process, which, due to nature of the transaction, could also lead to some fairly heavy taxation for GBT. Regardless, Subject Poker confirmed that Laurent Tapie himself was present in Dublin to arrange the agreement, which looks now to two more steps before GBT can move more quickly with representing itself in the online scene. The next step would be for for actual asset forfeiture to take place, then for GBT to purchase for $80 million, and finally for the Department of Justice to drop all civil proceedings currently held against FTP. This does not, however, include individual indictments taken out against those such as Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar and Chris Ferguson.
Also relating to Groupe Bernard Tapie, Poker-Red, Spain’s front-runner poker news website, also confirmed that GBT is undergoing efforts to pursue a Spanish gaming license, as the market there shall be regulated separately similar to France or Italy as of 2012. In total, 61 companies had reportedly shown interest in this specific license, with the Spanish market now being quite large and profitable to companies like Pokerstars, 888, and Party Poker to name a few. Presumably, GBT wishes to enter the Spanish market in the same fashion, as they have already made clear intentions that should everything go smoothly they would like to re-open Full Tilt as early as January.
Whatever the case, it seems clear that events are coming to their climax between the three factions, with the rest of the steps likely to take place in the coming weeks. As always, Poker NZ will continue to follow the updates, and look forward to the diversification that re-opening a site like Full Tilt may bring to the current online poker climate.