Recently, things have gone from bad to worse for fallen online poker site Full Tilt, with indictments against Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick, owners of Full Tilt, the freezing of the site to US players and the seizure of its domain name by the FBI and the US Department of Justice. However, over the years there have also been many lawsuits for Full Tilt Poker to face too.
In 2008, former Full Tilt Poker pro Clonie Gowen filed a lawsuit against the poker site, claiming that she was promised a 1% share in the company in return for her endorsement and promotion of the site, a promise that was not upheld. The lawsuit was dismissed but, partly reinstated upon appeal.
In April 2009, James B. Hicks, a partner in a Los Angeles law firm, filed a civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker and also one of the alleged owners of the poker site, Chris Ferguson. With the exception of legal costs, no monetary damages were being sought, only the prevention of Full Tilt Poker from operating.
In September 2009, Jason Newitt, an employee of Full Tilt Poker, filed a lawsuit against them, claiming damages for unfair dismissal and missing distribution payments.
In October 2009, Lary Kennedy and Greg Omotoy attempted to claim $80,000 damages from Full Tilt Poker, alleging that the poker site knowingly allowed its poker pros to use bots while playing online poker. The lawsuit was dismissed due to lack of details but the judge said that the case may be re-filed if the details could be clarified and proved.
At the same time that the US Department of Justice filed their indictment against Full Tilt Poker and numerous other poker sites on ‘Black Friday’, they filed a companion civil lawsuit against them too. The US Government is seeking damages of $3 billion!
Finally, in May of this year, poker pro Phil Ivey filed a suit against the poker site that he used to endorse, claiming that Full Tilt Poker has failed to pay players their bankrolls. Along with the lawsuit, Phil Ivey also boycotted this year’s World Series of Poker, saying that it was unfair for him to play when others, who couldn’t buy in thanks to their withheld bankrolls, were unable to take part.
So what next for Full Tilt Poker? If rumours are to be believed then they will have new European owners in the next month or two, then there’s just the little matter of defending and settling these many lawsuits.