First came Black Friday on April 15th – the seizing and shutting down (to U.S. Players) of the top three internet poker sites including the CPL’s favorite: FullTilt Poker.
Now, we have what we are calling “Midnight Blue Friday”. We thought that was better than “Black Friday II” and for those not in the know – Midnight Blue (depending on material and lighting) is nearly indistinguishable from black. Midnight Blue Friday is the closing of the State of MN which, in turn, has shuttered Running Aces and
Canterbury Park. Since both facilities are regulated by the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC) and MRC is now closed due to the state shutdown there is no immediate oversight available. The same holds true for their card rooms. Even though both Running Aces and Canterbury Park fully cover all of the associated regulatory and oversight costs in their fees structures, and, even though they are all paid up through July – they have been shuttered. While only about a score of state workers provide that direct oversight (and have been laid off) the impact of the closure will put more than 2000 non-state employees out of a job (dealers, food service workers, custodial staff, horse wranglers, jockeys, etc.).
On a potential upside – they both had court hearings today and are awaiting rulings which may get them reopened on the basis that they’ve already paid for services and cover all of their own costs in fees.
In other news….it’s good news/bad news for Full Tilt Poker. On the bad news end, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has suspended Full Tilt Poker’s gaming license and ordered the site to suspend all operations. This was done on June 29. Full Tilt’s site currently has a notice stating: “System Update. We apologise but the system is currently down. Please check back later.” More bad news is that the suspension precludes Full Tilt from, “Allow(ing) existing customers to withdraw funds that are held in their accounts.” This ban and others remain in effect until an AGCC hearing scheduled for July 26. If FullTilt did not have the stature, size and reputation it had (one which has been severely buffeted in the last two+ months) it might not survive such turmoil. It, still, may not survive this. PokerStars and Isle of Mann licensing control commission issued statements noting that PokerStars is still operating and licensed.
The possibly brighter news for FullTilt is that they appear to have found a buyer to take majority stake in the company. Reports conflict on the exact amount of the purchase, but the sale is meant to cover the roughly $150 million owed to U.S. players. FullTilt executives apparently also believe there will be enough money to cover a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice that will be in the hundreds of million dollars range. The deal is tentative awaiting the hoped-for settlement which is expected to be reached in mid to late July. We imagine the AGCC actions and outcome of that issue will also play a key part in this.