Six Weeks Left to Apply for Absolute Poker, UltimateBet Refunds

Updated: April 28th, 2017 by Dev Ops

Time’s a wastin’, as the saying goes, if you’re an online player who had significant funds on Cereus Network sites Absolute Poker and (formerly known as UltimateBet).  The unexpected announcement that the US Department of Justice and its hand-picked independent claims administrator, Garden City Group, would be offering a remission process, less technically described as applications for bankroll refunds, came as a pleasant surprise to the poker world earlier this month.

Even more surprising and pleasing was the verification that despite being a US-based process, the refunds will be issued to players around the globe, US citizens or not.  That’s as fair as the process is going to get, given that non-US players who played on the two major Cereus sites after 2011’s “Black Friday” were just as separated from their online funds as were the Yanks, even if those Yanks did make up the larger share of both sites’ player bases.

It’s unknown exactly how much will eventually be refunded, or whether all players will be refunded in full.  Unverified estimates claimed that Absolute Poker closed up shop owing at least $40 million to the site’s players.  Over at UltimateBet/, the figure might be higher, since UltimateBet was for many years the larger site.  It’s easily possible that the total of stolen balances between the two sites was between $100 and $150 million.

Is there enough money in the DOJ’s mystery pantry to pay back all claims?  Well, maybe.  The largest share of the funds is to be taken from the mammoth PokerStars settlement that site’s former owners reached with the DOJ back in 2012.  Though PokerStars and its then-parent company, Rational Group, had nothing to do with the operation of Absolute Poker or UB, the lumping of all the US-facing online sites in those 2011 Black Friday indictments opened a technical legal channel through which this ongoing remission process can occur.

That 2012 settlement specifically included funds for refunds of US-based Full Tilt Poker players.  In return, PokerStars received all of Full Tilt’s international assets.  In this case, Stars gets nothing from the ongoing settlement, though it’s not exactly a loss, eithr, since Stars’ penalties have previously been paid in full.  As one former Stars’ exec quipped, off the record, “It’s [the 2012 settlement] the gift that keeps on giving.”

Officially, there was at least $40 million left over from the early FTP remission process, due to the disqualification of Full Tilt owners, business associates (including affiliates) and so on.  That process technically still continues, though only a few hundred old FTP ccounts remain mired in disputes with GCG and the DOJ.

However, that $40-plus million alone isn’t enough, which inplies that partial refunds could still be applied, or that other moneys derived from a separate portion of the Stars settlement are also being tapped.  The actual fine paid by PokerStars to the DOJ in 2012 — with no admission of corporate guilt — was $541 million.  Some of that may be in play here.

It’s also possible that at least a few million dollars could have been contributed to the remission fund from the seizure of assets controlled by AP and its owners.  In a timing coincidence, it was only a few weeks prior to the announcement of the AP / UB remission process that the former CEO of Absolute Poker, Scott Tom, finally surrendered to US authorities on separate Black Friday felony charges.  Tom is also the prmary culprit behind the massive insider-cheating scandal at Absolute Poker last decade, and anecdotal reports suggest that tens of millions of dollars was likely siphoned from the company’s operations during its heyday.

Whatever happens to Tom happns, though a lot of former online poker players hope that involves significant jail time.  He and his attorney are still negotiating with US authorities over a probable plea deal in that matter.

All of that, though, segues away from the current remission process.  If you had significant amounts on Absolute Poker,, or a couple of tiny skins that also operated under the Cereus umbrella, than click yourself over to the recently launched by GCG.  There’s also a solid FAQ page that answers most of the questions the network’s former online customers might have.  You’ll need to remember your old UB and AP screen names and associated e-mail addresses, and if you had multiple accounts, it’s also wise to contact GCG support for individualized help.

Above all, don’t forget this date: June 9, 2017.  That’s the deadline for filing for refunds from Absolute Poker or UltimateBet.  GCG and the DOJ (which is supervising the whole thing), are offering a much shorter application window than they did back in late 2012 when the FTP refunds were announced.  So consider this a public service announcement: If you have more than just chump change in a long-lost account, don’t tarry in collecting this windfall.  It’s a one-time-only offer.

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