PokerStars Will Pay $731 Million To Settle U.S. Government Charges and Buy Full Tilt Poker
PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker company, has agreed to pay $731 million to settle the U.S. government’s civil charges that the company used fraudulent methods to process payments and evade U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling.
Under the agreement, PokerStars, based in the Isle of Man, will also purchase Full Tilt Poker, a former rival which collapsed following the U.S. government’s move in April 2011 to shut down the U.S. operations of the major online poker operators. The deal calls for PokerStars to forfeit $547 million to the U.S. government and make $184 million available to reimburse non-U.S. customers of Full Tilt within 90 days that had money on deposit at the company.
The deal will end the saga of Full Tilt Poker, a company built by Ray Bitar with the help of poker champions like Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Howard Lederer that Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, has repeatedly said was a Ponzi scheme. But Bharara’s crackdown on the online poker industry continues, including against Isai Scheinberg, the founder of PokerStars, who has been indicted by Bharara for operating an illegal gambling business. Bitar, who recently returned to the U.S. from Ireland to face the criminal charges Bharara has filed against him, pleaded not guilty and is currently out on bail. Scheinberg is believed to be in the Isle of Man.