One of the largest developments in the ongoing battle for online poker in the United States took place Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that PokerStars completed a deal to acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker. Many poker players voiced their opinion on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, from members of Team PokerStars Pro to online poker professionals.
The reaction was favorable for the most part, while some questioned the process through which the DOJ will reimburse players; but no one was happier than Blair Hinkle, who confirmed he had $1.15 million locked up on his Full Tilt Poker account on Black Friday. BLUFF spoke with Hinkle earlier today and he had many things to say regarding the news.
The deal settles the dispute between PokerStars and the DOJ with the stipulation that PokerStars admits no wrongdoing. PokerStars will ensure that the balances of both U.S. and non-U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker will be repaid in a timely manner through a reimbursement process in concert with the DOJ. When the time comes that the U.S. market reopens with licensed and regulated online poker, PokerStars will be permitted to apply to relevant U.S. gaming authorities, under both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, to offer real money online poker.
The poker community took to the internet on Tuesday with a variety of reactions to one of the largest poker stories since Black Friday on April 15, 2011. What follows is a sampling of those reactions.
Reaction from Blair Hinkle:
On his Initial Feelings about the News “My reaction for the last year was basically, just don’t get into the news too much. Good or bad I just tried to ignore it. Now that it’s finally over it’s a huge relief. I don’t know how to describe it. It all just hit me 30 minutes later. It is way better than winning a poker tournament, I’ll say that much.”
On which Online Site he’ll Play on in the Future “I would be happy to play on either of the sites [PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker] moving forward now that PokerStars has taken over, because they run their business the way it should be run. I’m just excited and I just really hope that everything that the U.S. Department of Justice is going through with them will help them rejoin the market whenever it becomes legal in the United States.”
On the DOJ Handling the Reimbursement Process “I haven’t looked into it too much, for me I didn’t really care either way; I just wanted it to be over with and good news is good news. I think it’s a little bit weird that it’s going through the Department of Justice other than PokerStars paying everyone back immediately. At the same time, it’s just something that has to come with the process of bringing back online poker to the United State. I think it’s something that they wanted to accomplish and I think that’s one step forward for the U.S. We’re coming much closer to regulated online poker in the United States, which is going to be huge. At the same time, I think getting the money back from your Full Tilt account is going to be a little bit of a hassle, but I think it’s something you have to give up in order to move forward.”
Tweets from the Poker Community Regarding Tuesday’s Press Release:
Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier @JasonMercier: “#face”
Team PokerStars Pro David Williams @dwpoker: “Once again PokerStars has made me proud to represent them.”
Todd Terry @toddbterry: “All thank yous should be directed to Preet Bharara and the DoJ. They’re basically distributing $ they could keep to FTP’s victims.”
Clayton Newman @clayton27: “Lots of friends got their finances rescued by PokerStars today, I hope this provides momentum for legalized poker in December.”
Dan O’Brien @DanOBrienPoker: “PokerStars didn’t do this as an act of charity. It’s a calculated business decision designed to profit. And guess what? That’s a great thing”
Aaron Jones @aejonesleggo: “i think this is my biggest winning day of all time”
Dani Stern @TheRealAnsky: “So, anything interesting happening today?”
Mark Gahagan @Mark_Gahagan: “Stars pretty much won the online poker business game with this. The goodwill they bought for $750 million will likely translate to billions.”
John Pappas, Executive Director of Poker Player’s Alliance:
“Thanks to PokerStars, the PPA expects that tens of thousands of innocent American poker players will now have access to more than $150 million that has been kept from them for over 14 months. We applaud that the parties made a process for the restitution of the players a central component of the agreement, and appreciate the government’s commitment to the fair treatment of the players…At the same time, let’s remember that Americans still remain unable to play poker with safe and secure online sites based in the U.S. – a freedom and consumer protection they should not be denied. The PPA and its members continue to urge Congress to quickly enact thoughtful legislation to create a licensed and regulated U.S. online poker market that restores Americans’ freedom to enjoy a game of poker from their home computer.”
Official Statement of Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar:
“Over the past few days, I signed the papers necessary to complete Full Tilt’s deal with the US Government. The Company’s assets will now be transferred to PokerStars and Full Tilt employees will have a new employer as well. I believe that this deal will result in Full Tilt’s customers being repaid. I am extremely pleased and excited by this prospect. For the past 15 months, I have worked hard on possible solutions to get players repaid. It has been a very long road, with lots of bumps along the way, but I am glad we have gotten to the end. I only wish that we could have resolved the situation much sooner. Today’s settlement also ends the US Government’s legal case against the Full Tilt companies. I am glad that this chapter has closed.”