Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have reacquired their respective dot-com sites in an effort to return player funds, according to a press release from the United States Department of Justice .Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “On April 15th, this Office and the FBI took specific legal action against 11 individuals who allegedly engaged not merely in the operation of illegal gambling businesses, but in massive wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering, despite repeated warnings and clear notice that their conduct was illegal in the United States. No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player’s deposited funds. In fact, this Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate.”Full Tilt Poker said in a press release:Full Tilt Poker is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to regain the use of its worldwide domain name, www.fulltiltpoker.com. Although players in the United States will not be permitted to engage in real-money play, the agreement expressly allows for real-money play outside of the United States.In addition, the agreement represents an important first step towards returning funds to U.S. players because it allows Full Tilt Poker to utilize its domain to facilitate the withdrawal of player funds. But, unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future. As a result of the recent enforcement action, there exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds; Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government; and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players. Finally, there are numerous legal and jurisdictional issues that must be considered before poker winnings can be paid out to players throughout the United States. While Full Tilt Poker continues to believe that online poker is not illegal under federal law or in 49 states, the indictment and civil forfeiture action filed last Friday require Full Tilt Poker to proceed with caution in this area.Notwithstanding these issues, Full Tilt Poker is ready to work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to try and resolve these issues and to get players their money back as soon as possible.PokerStars said in a press release:The company categorically denies the allegations brought by the US Department of Justice on 15th April 2011 and is taking all steps necessary to robustly defend itself, and the two named individuals. Meanwhile, the company has stopped offering real money poker services in the United States.Returning US players’ funds is a top priority for PokerStars and the company can now start the process of returning money to its former US customers. All PokerStars player deposits are completely safe. The Isle of Man’s strict licensing laws (similar to other jurisdictions where PokerStars holds licenses) require all funds to be held in accounts that are segregated from company assets. PokerStars has always complied with this requirement and continues to do so. This money is readily available to meet withdrawal demands, indeed the company continues to comply with withdrawal requests from players based outside the US as normal. Outside the U.S., PokerStars continues to operate business as usual.
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