Poker star Phil Ivey is skipping the World Series of Poker (WSOP). That's like Michael Jordan skipping the NBA playoffs, Tiger Woods skipping the PGA TOUR, and Roger Federer skipping the French Open.
Ivey is protesting Full Tilt's alleged painful slowness in returning player deposits. In addition to showing his anger by skipping the WSOP, Ivey also filed a lawsuit against Full Tilt.
Full Tilt Poker was one of the most popular internet poker rooms for US players. However, on April 15, the Department of Justice (DOJ) seized the website and charged it with fraud, money laundering, and violating US gambling laws.
On April 20, the DOJ permitted Full Tilt to refund US players' money.
However, Ivey's stance suggests that Full Tilt is either ignoring requests to return money or is slow in doing so. Full Tilt did not immediately return IBTimes' requests for comments. IBTimes isn't immediately able to verify whether or not Ivey's allegations are true.
Ivey said he wholeheartedly refuse to accept non-action as to repayment of players funds. He said he will dedicate the entirety of [his] time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment.
Ivey used to be a paid endorser of Full Tilt. In fact, the seized Full Tilt website still shows a video of him However, he now said his name and reputation have been dragged through the mud by Full Tilt's alleged inactivity and indecision.
As for the lawsuit, Ivey wants to be released from the non-compete clause of the endorsement deal he signed with Full Tilt, accused Full Tilt of failing to disclose that it was under heat from the DOJ, and accused Full Tilt of damaging his professional reputation.
The lawsuit also alleges that Full Tilt failed to maintain sufficient reserve accounts to satisfy the return of funds to U.S. players. Like a bank or brokerage, Full Tilt allegedly invested deposits and only kept a fraction of it in cash, betting on the fact that only a few players on average would demand repayments at a given time.
However, it now allegedly faces a 'bank run' that perhaps leaves it insolvent, or at least illiquid.
Full Tilt said the following about repayments:
Since April 15th and the days immediately following, Full Tilt Poker faced numerous challenges and hurdles to ensuring the smooth operation of its international business and the orderly return of US player funds. FTP has worked tirelessly to address these issues and has made significant progress on both fronts. FTP's international business operations are returning to normal while we focus on ensuring the safe and orderly return of US player funds. We are absolutely committed to making sure that US players are refunded as soon as possible. We apologize for the delay and the fact that we underestimated the time it would take to work through these issues. We will update our US players when we have more specific information to provide
In response to Ivey's boycott of the WSOP, a Full Tilt spokesperson said:
“Contrary to his sanctimonious public statements, Phil Ivey’s meritless lawsuit is about helping just one player – himself. In an effort to further enrich himself at the expense of others, Mr. Ivey appears to have timed his lawsuit to thwart pending deals with several parties that would put money back in players’ pockets. In fact, Mr. Ivey has been invited -- and has declined -- to take actions that could assist the company in these efforts, including paying back a large sum of money he owes the site. Tiltware doubts Mr. Ivey’s frivolous and self-serving lawsuit will ever get to court. But if it does, the company looks forward to presenting facts demonstrating that Mr. Ivey is putting his own narrow financial interests ahead of the players he professes to help.”
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