Out Of Nowhere, US Government Set To Pay Absolute Poker And UB Player Funds

Dustin Gouker April 12, 2017 1241 Reads
Absolute Poker Ultimate Bet repayment

A vast majority of players got their money back from the now defunct Full Tilt Poker.

Now, it’s Absolute Poker and UB players’ turn, according to a press release from a US attorney’s office in New York:

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has retained the Garden City Group to oversee a process for compensating eligible victims of a fraud committed by Absolute Poker against United States players who were unable to withdraw funds from Absolute Poker following the Office’s filing in 2011 of a civil money laundering and forfeiture action against Absolute Poker and others in United States v. PokerStars, et al. 

You can now visit a website to see if you have money in your old Absolute Poker/UB accounts.

The story behind Absolute Poker and UB

If you played poker circa 2011, you are already familiar with the backstory.

As part of online poker’s Black Friday that year, the US Department of Justice had seized the domains of several online poker sites. Those included PokerStars and Full Tilt, but also the domains of Absolute Poker and UB (including UltimateBet.com).

As a part of a settlement with PokerStars in 2012, PokerStars acquired Full Tilt and forfeited more than half a billion dollars. Some of that money went toward repaying US players that Full Tilt owed money to.

Absolute Poker also forfeited its assets in a 2013 settlement agreement with the DOJ. But to date there has been no effort to repay AP players. Until now.

Why now for Absolute Poker and UP payments?

With the Full Tilt claims process now complete, the DOJ is using leftover money to attempt to get funds back in the hands of AP and UP players. The DOJ has returned $118 million to Full Tilt Poker fraud victims to date.

The Poker Players Alliance also played a role in getting money back in AP/UB players’ hands, it appears:

PPA has reached out to SDNY verbally and in writing several times since the April 15, 2011 shutdowns of the largest U.S. facing online poker sites, encouraging them to treat all funds obtained as a result of actions associated with these shutdowns as a single pot of money to reimburse ALL players whose money was frozen on Black Friday.

As the representative of U.S. players before SDNY, we are very pleased that our recommendations have been accepted and that, at long last, many U.S. players will be made whole.

The DOJ on AP/UB

More from the DOJ on repayments:

As alleged in the operative forfeiture complaints and indictments in this case, the three online poker companies, including Absolute Poker, and their principals, conspired with one another, and others, such as payment processors who worked with multiple poker companies, to carry out the offense conduct that served as the basis for the forfeiture of the Forfeited Poker Funds. 

Additionally, the Department of Justice has concluded that players of Absolute Poker who were unable to recover their funds from Absolute Poker are similarly situated to the eligible victims of Full Tilt Poker, in that Absolute Poker, like Full Tilt Poker, did not maintain funds sufficient to repay all of its players.

Accordingly, remaining Forfeited Poker Funds will be used to fund a claims process for eligible Absolute Poker victims. 

Making a claim for online poker funds

The Garden City Group oversaw the Full Tilt remissions process. It is also in charge of getting funds back to AP/UB players.

The site is nearly identical to the one GCG set up for Full Tilt victims. The site asks players believing they had outstanding balances on one or both of the sites about personal information. This is done in an attempt to link them to a player account.

Initially, it seemed only AP players might be eligible. But UB players can also make a claim

Players can also call a toll-free hotline number at (855) 907-3254 for more information.

Depending on how the process goes, players may not get their full account balances. Again from the DOJ:

If the forfeited funds available for distribution equal or exceed the aggregate Account Balances for all eligible Petitioners, each eligible Petitioner with an approved claim will receive the entirety of his or her Account Balance or approved loss amount. If the aggregate Account Balances for all eligible Petitioners exceed the funds available for distribution, payments shall be made to eligible Petitioners on a pro rata basis.

Regardless, most online poker players believed money from Absolute Poker and UB was a lost cause. Now, getting some of that money back is a reality.