Tuesday October 4, 2011 : FTP is down, but not out says prospective buyer
Laurent Tapie, md of Groupe Bernard Tapie and the prospective buyer of Full Tilt Poker showed a few more of his cards in an interview with respected online gambling writer Matt Richtel of the New York Times this week.
He revealed that two million Americans played on the Full Tilt Poker site in the months before it was shut down by the Justice Department…and another two million people from other countries also played regularly.
Tapie said that his company's proven capability in buying troubled companies and turning them around suited the Full Tilt Poker situation and its widely known brand.
“Full Tilt Poker is injured but not dead,” he said.
On the downside, Tapie confirmed that Full Tilt owes substantial sums of money to players around the world, which he estimated at around $300 million. The acquisition deal involved the full repayment of all players, he revealed, saying : “We are going to put all the money into the company we need to to please the players. They are the key asset, above all.”
Tapie emphasised that his company would not go through with the deal unless there was a resolution to the civil matter involving the Department of Justice.
And with regard to the criminal charges in the DoJ indictments, he said that no Full Tilt employees or managers found guilty of a crime would work for the company in the future, although others who are not implicated might be retained.
The financial terms of the acquisition were still very much in flux, Tapie revealed. In large part that is because it is not yet clear whether Groupe Bernard Tapie or the FTP current management would ultimately repay the players what they are owed. That decision, he said, rests in no small part with the Justice Department, which may determine the amount of restitution owed by management and the form it takes.
For now at least, Tapie said that his company must work on the assumption that the US market remains closed to Full Tilt Poker, although he expressed the hope that with federal legalization and a finalisation of the FTP litigation the market might open up, presenting a rejuvenated Full Tilt led by new management with solid business opportunities.
“It’s a natural instinct to gamble. Gambling has been there for thousands of years,” Tapie said. Now, the Internet has made gambling more easily accessible, presenting a combination that he opined is unstoppable.