Full Tilt Poker: French group is buyer

LAS VEGAS -- Troubled online gambling operator Full Tilt Poker said Friday that a French group has agreed to buy the company and its assets despite its legal troubles in the United States and the revocation of its gambling license.

Full Tilt said in a news release that the group of Bernard Tapie -- a former government minister, sports tycoon and actor -- has agreed to the sale on condition that the company settle its legal troubles favorably. Company executives are facing federal charges of money laundering and fraud to run a gambling business in defiance of a 2006 law that prohibits online poker operations in the U.S.

Initial attempts to reach Tapie were not immediately successful on Friday.

Prosecutors in New York said Full Tilt was running a Ponzi scheme, an allegation the company said is untrue.

The announcement comes one day after gambling regulators on the British Channel Island of Alderney revoked Full Tilt's gambling license that it used to operate its online card room worldwide. The executive director of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission said Full Tilt had severe financial problems including bogus accounting, unauthorized loans and a failure to report significant material events.

Full Tilt shot back with a statement saying the commission's decision potentially damaged its ability to be sold.

Full Tilt said the agreement includes a plan to repay deposits of players worldwide who haven't had access to their gambling funds since April.

Prosecutors in New York said that in March, Full Tilt had $60 million in funds to cover $390 million in player deposits, and had used $444 million to pay company executives and board members, including a few well-known poker professionals.

Full Tilt on Friday cited Tapie's experience in saving financially troubled businesses and bringing them to profitability. It specifically cited his 1990 purchase of sportswear maker adidas.

Tapie was awarded $449 million in 2008 over the botched sale of adidas after he said he was defrauded out of millions in the sale.

Tapie served six months in prison in 1997 after being convicted of bribing soccer players to throw a 1993 match against Olympique Marseille, a team he owned. He was also convicted of fraud for deliberately misleading authorities about a luxury yacht.