Will Pokerstars And Full Tilt Reenter The US Poker Market?

Updated: October 10th, 2011 by Dev Ops

On April 15th, 2011 members of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker management were indicted by the US Department of Justice. Within 24 hours both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker left the US market. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker both reached settlements with US law enforcement within days of Black Friday. These settlements included the use of the PokerStars.com and Fulltiltpoker.com domains. They also allowed PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker the ability to process withdrawal requests by giving them access to the US banking system.

PokerStars started allowing cashout requests on April 26, 2011. PokerStars cashout requests were processed quickly and flawlessly. Full Tilt Poker has yet to even offer US players the ability to cashout, much less process any withdrawals. In fact, most players outside the US still have not received their cashouts. On June 29, 2011 the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) suspended Full Tilt Poker’s gaming license due to their inability to pay players.

Before Black Friday both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker had positioned themselves to enter the licensed US market if US online poker legislation passed Congress. PokerStars has reached a partnership agreement with Wynn Resorts and Full Tilt Poker had reached an agreement with the Fertitta family who founded Las Vegas local’s casino giant Station Casinos. These agreements showed that PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker both felt that they would be able to enter the US market if online poker regulations were passed. The casinos seemed to have the same opinion. Black Friday changed that and the agreements were ceased after the indictments were handed down.

Now that PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have been forced out of the US market their return would seem nearly impossible. Unlike other former and current US facing online poker rooms, the cards are stacked against PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. There are many obstacles to overcome for them to reenter the US market.

Without US online poker regulations it is extremely unlikely that either would reenter the US market. This is because there are many legal issues that are hanging over the heads of both companies. Until their company officers face the online poker indictments their agreements with US authorities forbid them from accepting deposits or wagers from US players. This will not change without a different legal climate in the US. Even then the chances of their return are slim at best. Both companies would still have to settle their legal problems which at the least would include huge fines that may make reentering the US cost prohibitive.

Even without US players, PokerStars continues to be the largest online poker room. There is no reason for PokerStars to take any more legal risks to grow their business. If regulations pass and PokerStars and their officers fully settle with US law enforcement then they may have the chance to reenter the US market, especially if they do it through a marketing agreement similar to the one that they made with Wynn Resorts before Black Friday.

Full Tilt Poker is in a unique situation. Currently they are closed pending reinstatement of their gaming license by the AGCC. Until they have their license reinstated or find a new jurisdiction to license them Full Tilt Poker will not be able to reopen. What may help Full Tilt Poker’s ability to reenter the US is that if they reopen they would be under new ownership and management. For a sale to close, a buyer would likely have to settle with the US. This means that new ownership might allow for a situation where Full Tilt Poker’s name is cleared by US authorities. If that happens, Full Tilt Poker could possibly reenter the US online poker market pending regulations.

It is likely that US players have played real money online poker for the last time at PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. This does not mean that US players cannot play online poker. There are still many online poker rooms that accept US players. When online poker regulations get passed in the US there will be plenty of registered, licensed online poker rooms for US players to enjoy their favorite games.

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