It appears that online poker players with funds frozen on the once-flourishing online poker site Full Tilt Poker are about to receive some positive news.
According to CNNMoney.com, the United States Department of Justice is close to finalizing a deal with Group Bernard Tapie which would involve GBT paying $80 million for the assets of the company. GBT will be responsible for the repayment of former Full Tilt players outside of the United States while the Department of Justice will be responsible for accepting applications for the repayment of players in the United States.
In order for the deal to move forward, current leadership at Full Tilt will need to agree to forfeiting its assets to the Department of Justice, the CNNMoney.com report said. Jeff Ifrah, a laywer associated with FTP, confirmed that money from the purchase price would be put into a fund that would pay players who submit claims for frozen assets.
Players from the U.S. had approximately $150 million in player balances stuck on the site on April 15, 2011 when the Department of Justice charged the site with gambling offenses.
The Deparment of Justice didn't confirm or deny the deal on Friday.
On PokerStrategy.com, Full Tilt said once again that their main priority since Black Friday has been the repayment of customers, which a deal would allow.
"I am extremely pleased with the efforts of the Department of Justice, and the Groupe Bernard Tapie corporation, and appreciate their continued dedication in working towards a mutually beneficial agreement that will facilitate repayment of the players," said Ray Bitar, co-founder of FTP, to PokerStrategy.com.
Behn Dayanim, an attorney for GBT, said: "A letter of agreement with the DOJ has been executed. It states that in the event that the Full Tilt companies consent to a forfeiture of their assets, GBT will purchase those assets."
Ifrah told ESPN.com on Friday that this is a great step forward for all parties involved.
"The deal that was reached between the investors and the DOJ is going to pave the way for players to be reimburesed and it's hopefully going to pave the way for a new FTP to be re-launched. Those two together, is good for poker, good for the industry and good for the players."
Ifrah said the deal specifically permits the re-entry of Full Tilt Poker into the U.S. marketplace if online poker becomes legalized and regulated. Full Tilt Poker will still have to apply for a license and be approved.
Ifrah said he would be in Paris and Dublin over the next few days to work on the agreement between Full Tilt and GBT. At that point, all sides will return to the table and work with the Department of Justice on "figuring out how everything will work out as planned."
Andrew Feldman is the poker editor for ESPN.com.