Last week, Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that eligible players who have been out of pocket for 6 years could file claims to get their money back after the government seized the assets of several online poker companies, including Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.
Players who deposited at AP, but later weren’t able to get their money out may be entitled to retrieve their funds through the Garden City Group, retained by the feds to disburse the funds under civil forfeiture rules. The official website players need to visit to file claims is http://www.absolutepokerclaims.com
The DOJ alleged that Absolute and other defendants represented to clients that deposited funds would be “safe, secure, and available for withdrawal at any time.” The department says that AP didn’t maintain the funds at a level that could compensate all players.
Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars settled similar allegations in 2012 and anyone who went through that process should be able to rely on a similar method of getting their money back from AP assets. According to the DOJ, all three companies conspired with payment processors and each other to defraud players. Of course, the DOJ mentions nothing about the potential liquidity of the online providers if they had gone on to service customers rather than having their domains seized.
The settlement with Absolute Poker was reached in July 2013. Under the terms of that settlement, Absolute Poker is required to forfeit all of its assets and the monies will be distributed among affected players.
The starting criterium for compensation is having at least a penny in your account when payment processing stopped. If assets (settlement funds) exceed total claims, everyone will get back all their money, otherwise, the amount will be pro-rated with all claimants receiving a fair amount based on available funds.
“Affiliates” and “Professional Players” will be compensated using different calculations. All claimants will need to provide proof of purchase, but that will be easy for most as they are already in a database with a compensation amount assigned. If you agree with the amount shown when filling out the online form, no further proof is needed.
If you disagree with the amount you will be asked to submit documents that support the balance you have arrived at. That documentation must show the account holder’s name, dates, descriptions, and amounts of relevant transactions as well as financial institution information.
Players who think they may have money in their old Absolute Poker accounts can visit the website http://www.absolutepokerclaims.com administered by the Garden City Group. The GCG also handled payouts from the Full Tilt/Poker Stars forfeiture and will use leftover funds from that process to make AP players whole again. Some reports indicate that after Full Tilt was acquired by PokerStars in a 2012 settlement, more than $500 million was seized by the government. Only about 25% of that money, by some accounting, was returned to players.
Eleven people were indicted on the charges in 2011. As of October 2016, only two of the defendants had not settled.