A class action lawsuit has been initiated in Canada against Full Tilt Poker that claims the online poker company is keeping players’ money.
Ever since the United States Justice Dept closed down the three top online poker rooms on 15th April this year, Full Tilt Poker suffered a string of setbacks culminating in their operating license being withdrawn by the Alderney Gaming Commission at the end of July. Up until then, players in countries outside the US could still log into their accounts and play poker, while being able to deposit and withdraw money as normal. Initially, only US players were affected and were promised by the poker operator that their money would be returned to them. This seemed to satisfy international players that it was not they who had been targeted, just US players.
But with the revoking of its licence, Full Tilt was forced to shut down all its poker sites and that meant no one could access their accounts to withdraw their balances. It turns out that monies held in accounts of patrons in Canada amounted to between $5-10 million of the funds that have been withheld.
So on Friday, Canadian lawyer Jeff Orenstein of the law firm Consumer Law Group Inc., was instructed by his client to file a class action lawsuit with Quebec’s Superior Court against Full Tilt Poker. The lead plaintiff is Mitchell Schnurbach from Montreal, who has no more than $5 in his account. Before the suit can proceed, it still has to be authorised by a senior Quebec judge but a favourable result will benefit Canadian patrons affected by Full Tilt’s actions.
Orenstein is reported as saying that he had been contacted by a man in Edmonton claiming the fallen poker company had hold of $250,000 that belonged to him when it went offline. Another poker player claimed he has $10,000 locked in his account. While the average player account balance is certain to be much lower than these figures, together they all add up and amount to around $150 million of players’ money worldwide that is unavailable to them.
It has been noted in this class action that one of the payment processors used by Full Tilt is Terricorp Inc. which maintains bank accounts situated in Canada. Also named in this class action are several key executives for Full Tilt Poker and other related companies. If successful, this suit could pave the way for more civil action to be taken against the poker company in an attempt to force them to release the money that legitimately belongs to their clients.