The deal between the US Department of Justice and PokerStars that resulted in the purchase of Full Tilt Poker was supposed to herald the return of player funds to US players. Then we find out that that the DOJ will hire payment processors to process the payments. Later, we discover it will be next year before payments might happen. Now, there is a report suggesting that players may not get their funds back prior to 2015.
A report on Buzzfeed.com now suggests that the repayment process will be long and drawn out and that it will only be feasible for players that have at least $10,000 or more in their accounts.
Steven L. Kessler is a forfeiture attorney in New York City and was heavily quoted in the article. He spoke on how that the forfeiture system is “set up so that you are discouraged from going after your money. There is the cost in terms of emotion, time, effort, and cash. You can do the claim yourself, but the discovery process will require you to show tax returns and bank statements. … It’s virtually impossible to do without an attorney. Plus, look at what you’re exposing to get back what belongs to you. You have to wonder if it will turn into a tax case.”
In addition, Kessler talked about how government forfeiture cases are about fundraising and he further believes that players will not see any part of their money until PokerStars has paid the DOJ the full $547 Million. The final payment is scheduled to be made in 2015.
Kessler’s opinion about the feasibility of repayments is not new. It has been discussed at length that not everyone can expect to be repaid once the DOJ starts processing payments. The going figure seems to be around 60 to 80 percent depending on who you ask and Dan Fleyshman was quoted in the Buzzfeed article as saying 70 to 80 percent.
Keep in mind that this is a “legal opinion” and not an announcement from the DOJ. However, parts of it reinforces what has been said in the past regarding players exposing themselves to future problems by pursuing their money. In the end, it may be cheaper for players to let the DOJ keep their old balances.