The Ray Bitar Saga Part 2

August 13, 2012

Former Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar, who is out on bail after being arrested early last month released a statement today declaring that he had officially signed the necessary papers needed to finish the deal between Full Tilt Poker and the US government.

According to Bitar’s statement, assets of the company will be transferred over to PokerStars and employees of Full Tilt will now be employees of PokerStars. Furthermore, he stated, “I believe that this deal will result in Full Tilt’s customers being repaid. I am extremely pleased and excited by this prospect.”

Bitar continued, “I am extremely pleased and excited by this prospect. For the past 15 months, I have worked hard on possible solutions to get players repaid. It has been a very long road, with lots of bumps along the way, but I am glad we have gotten to the end. I only wish that we could have resolved the situation much sooner.”

Perhaps he is genuinely sorry it took so long, and whether or not he has been in hiding so that he can continue to work on things is questionable, but giving himself up just after the deal was finalized does give merit to his statement.

Former Full Tilt executive Nelson Burtnick, who is also accused of drawing salaries even though player funds were not secured are still at large. Burtnick is still at large, though six of the 11 original indicted individuals have been pleaded guilty, and a $3 billion civil forfeiture case has been secured against online poker sites.

Bitar closed his statement with the following:

Today’s settlement also ends the US Government’s legal case against the Full Tilt companies. I am glad that this chapter has closed. I would like to thank the company’s many dedicated employees who helped achieve this result. It has been a pleasure working at Full Tilt and I am grateful for the many friendships and memories that I made there. I wish everyone in the Full Tilt family success in their future endeavors.

I also extend my best wishes to PokerStars. This is a very creative deal and it should benefit everyone: the players, Full Tilt and PokerStars alike.

All of this is kind of sad, but inevitable. Bitar started Full Tilt Poker back when he was working as a day trader at an LA prop shop. He and pro poker players Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer built the company from scratch. It would ultimately become the second largest online poker site in the world. But playing games with the feds to stay off their radar eventually caught up with them. And it just didn’t help that they couldn’t pay players when the walls came down. Thus, Full Tilt’s tragic flaw was that they did not separate player funds from operating costs.

Hopefully Bitar is right and this new agreement will satisfy all parties, but unfortunately, he is still facing up to 145 years in prison and must face his sentence now after remaining in hiding for the previous 15 months.


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