More Remission Payments Announced for Former Cereus Network Players

Updated: October 29th, 2018 by Haley Hintze

The slow and steady process of returning funds to former online poker players on Cereus Network sites Absolute Poker and (once known as UltimateBet) continues with the announcement of a fourth wave of payments about to be sent to players who long could have written off their bankrolls on the two cheating-riddled sites. On Friday, October 26, the US-based Garden City Group, under the direction of the United States Department of Justice, informed the public of an upcoming fourth wave of payments about to be sent to some one-time Cereus Network players. The refunds continue to be global in nature, and despite being orchestrated by the US’s DOJ, are not limited only to Americans.

As waves of these payments go, this one is rather small, amounting to 494 players and a hair over $133,000 in total. The player count is similar to that in Wave 3 (listed below), yet the average payment continues to decrease, with the average payment of less than $270 by far the lowest of the four remission waves to date. 

Here are the player counts and total payments sent out to former AP and UB players since the remission process for the two former Cereus Network sites was announced in the summer of 2017:

  • Wave 1 (August 2017) — 7,400 players, $33,500,000
  • Wave 2 (October 2017) — 4,600 players, $3,700,000
  • Wave 3 (March 2018) — 450 players, $1,084,200
  • Wave 4 (October 2018) — 494 players, $133,000

The four separate remission waves to date total about $38.4 million, distributed to just under 13,000 players who had balances on either Absolute Poker or when the sites were short-circuited by the DOJ’s “Black Friday” crackdown that targeted several US-facing online poker sites. While it’s awesome that most of the AP/UB players are ending up getting their April 2011 site balances returned, the one small injustice in the whole thing is that the refunds are coming from the  tens of millions of dollars left over from PokerStars’ funding of the similar Full Tilt Poker remission effort that dated back to 2012.

It was only through a bit of prosecutorial mismanagement on the DOJ’s part that the Absolute Poker and players ended up getting paid from the Stars DOJ settlement, because the DOJ linked all the sites together by making the “Black Friday” indictments against the four major US-facing sites into a single case. 

It’s great for the former Cereus Network players, even if turned out to be something of an oopsie for the DOJ, who acquiesced to legal pressure and the promise of a legal fight over the many tens of millions of dollars clearly left over from the 2012 Stars settlement. But don’t feel too badly for the DOJ, or its hired claims administrator, Garden City Group: The numbers indicate that at least another $30 million is going into the federal coffers, and that’s over and above the hundreds of millions sent the DOJ’s way by PokerStars those half dozen years ago.

Upon hearing about the AP/UB remission plan last year, one Stars person wryly commented to me, about that original settlement: “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.” No, I’m not naming him or her.

Sardonic comment aside, the figures involved in this fourth wave of remission payments shows that the process is clearly winding down. It’s one of the last active news topics associated with that very bad “Black Friday” in 2011. We’ll likely hear about one or two more small remission waves being issued — the absolutepokerclaims page still offers occasional updates — but the end of the road for this saga is now clearly in sight.

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