Why the DOJ is dragging their feet with Full Tilt Poker money

There were a lot of reasons being bandied about as to why the Department of Justice “should” be interested in settling the case, and making things right by the affected poker players from the site during the seemingly-never-ending Full Tilt Poker fiasco that lasted from April 15, 2011 up until the poker world breathed a collective sigh of release when word finally came down this summer that PokerStars had settled with the US Department of Justice and purchased Full Tilt Poker in the process.

One of the motivations I kept hearing was that the DOJ would likely become sick of hearing the complaints and getting negative ink for not making things right by the poker community. This notion never resonated with me for a multitude of interwoven reasons, and my feelings regarding the DOJ seem to have been confirmed by the news received last week that the DOJ is nowhere near cutting Full Tilt Poker players checks, and according to the Poker Players Alliance (which met with the DOJ last week) another year may be “realistic based on what we heard in the meeting.”

So why would the DOJ care so little about its reputation? Here is a quick look at why I was never overly-confident that players would be repaid, and still not confident that players will be paid anytime soon or in full:

  • The DOJ considered Full Tilt Poker to be breaking the law, and whether you agree with this assessment or not FTP players were basically patronizing an illegal business –either knowingly or out of complete ignorance. The DOJ understands that there is no public outcry to see FTP players repaid; this isn’t a case of teacher’s pensions being siphoned, it’s a case of poker players frequenting an illegal online site.
  • The DOJ doesn’t care about their reputation, and as the Machiavellian saying goes, “It’s better to be feared than loved.” The DOJ are non-elected law enforcement officials. The agency’s public image is about as important as the nutrition facts of candy. These are anonymous men (other than Attorney General Eric Holder) who are simply doing their jobs.
  • The longer the DOJ holds onto player funds the more accrue, and the less likely players are to go through the remission process to claim their lost funds. Let’s face it, the more complicated the process, and the longer it drags out, the more likely people are going to write-off the $75 or $220 that was in their FTP accounts.

So here is what the DOJ is dealing with: A few hundred players that have sizable amounts coming to them, and thousands of players who will likely want little to do with submitting a remission claim and dealing with the DOJ –especially if a fee is involved thanks to the DOJ hiring a third-party payment processor.

There is no public outrage at their actions, and the only people barking in their ears are a few advocacy groups like the PPA (which is not meant to be an intermediary between the DOJ and poker players and holds almost no sway) and people on Internet poker forums, who deservedly want answers on when they can expect to see their five-to seven-figure account balances returned.

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  • Posted in: Poker, Poker News
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