By Dan Katz – Jul 27th, 2011
The eyes of the online poker world were trained squarely on London Tuesday, as the short-term fate of Full Tilt Poker hung in the balance at a hearing before the Commissioners of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC). The purpose of the hearing was to allow both Full Tilt and the AGCC to make public any evidence regarding the June 29th suspension of Full Tilt Poker’s gaming license. As it turned out, the hearing was largely anticlimactic, as it was adjourned until September 15th, at the latest.
Not much happened in the public setting, which was the way the hearing was intended to be run. Instead, Full Tilt’s legal counsel, Martin Heslop, requested that the pre-hearing application for adjournment be conducted “in camera,” or in private. He felt that there was no downside to moving the discussions into a private session, but if they remained public, there would be potential for evidence to come to light that would hurt the company’s bid for new investors.
The AGCC granted Full Tilt’s request to take the proceedings private, to the dismay of spectators. Professional poker player Harry Demetriou, one of the on-lookers, was incensed by the decision, reportedly leaving in anger, yelling, “What about the interests of the players? Why you are protecting this corrupt company?”
Lead Commissioner Isabel Picornel addressed those in attendance, telling them the decision to move the application to a private setting “was not taken lightly.”
One bit of information that was revealed publicly was that Full Tilt Poker owes ₤250,000 in licensing fees to the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. Heslop said that it had not been paid because Full Tilt did not actually expect to have its license reinstated (and thus it would be paying the money for nothing), but if there was a reasonable chance that the license could be reinstated, Full Tilt could pay the fees within seven days.
This morning the AGCC released a statement, which reads, in part:
“As a result of the arguments on behalf of FTP during the pre-hearing application the Commissioners decided to adjourn the hearing as they felt it was in the best interests of FTP’s customers. A key consideration in their decision was to allow FTP licensees ‘to further pursue advanced commercial negotiations which could lead to a more beneficial outcome for player interests.’
The Commissioners adjourned the substantive hearing to commence as soon as possible and in any event not later than 15th September. Further details regarding the exact date and venue of the substantive hearing will be announced as soon as practical.”
Essentially, the AGCC still feels a formal hearing is necessary, but since Full Tilt has been in talks with potential investors, the Commission wants to give the company a chance to complete any possible deals so that players will have a better chance at getting their funds returned. After all, every day that Full Tilt is out of business is another day during which there is no chance for players to get their money back.
It is unknown at this time whether or not the future hearing will be held publicly or privately.