The cut-off date for poker players looking to file civil forfeiture claims for account balances, on poker sites Absolute Poker, Ultimate Bet and Full Tilt Poker that were shut down, with the US District Court in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) arrives today.
The deadline was set as the end of the business day on the USA’s east coast as third-party claims have to be made within 60 days of the government’s initial publication – on May 16.
The United States federal government seized numerous bank accounts that contain untold amounts of money as illegal proceeds that are subject to forfeiture following the SDNY’s ‘Black Friday’ indictments of April 15 this year against employees and owners of the poker websites that were shut down by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
Of course, this is one of the main reasons why the above websites have not been capable of refunding American poker players. However, players that are owed cash by the sites can claim refunds under United States law, although it does seem like it could be a forlorn undertaking.
In fact, it might be best for the majority of players just to hold off and hope that the websites eventually pay up. It’s not a great solution, if it can even be regarded as such, but that does appear to be the most sensible option.
But any Americans considering filling out the one-page claim document had better get moving, even though many factors should be considered before going ahead – as pointed out by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA).
As such, the PPA’s legal team have prepared a guide highlighting the correct way to make a claim, suggesting that only players hoping to recover large amounts should really go ahead.
However, the PPA have decided against becoming directly involved after determining that the organisation – which was founded in 2005 to protect players’ rights – does not possess the legal right to represent those looking to recover money.
But, if you are determined to pursue a claim, it would be wise to employ a solicitor to assess whether a claim is really advisable. Engaging the assistance of a lawyer becomes a must, however, when following up any initial claim within three weeks as the US government will undoubtedly ask some tough questions.
Be aware, though, that your lawyer’s bill will mount swiftly. So, again, ask yourself if this is the best course of action for you – especially as players are not guaranteed any returns.
In fact, it is possible that a claim could have negative results, according to the PPA. Every answer given – under oath, normally – becomes part of the public records, so it would be sensible to be certain that any questions answered do not come back to haunt you.
Additionally, the US District Court might consider the claim to be frivolous, possibly resulting in a $250 to $5,000 civil penalty for the claimant.
This is such a grey area as claims can be thought of as frivolous, even if the claimant provides accurate and detailed information, because the court might determine that there is no legal foundation for a claim.
Essentially, the best course of action appears to be to sit tight and hope that the websites eventually pay up as the process of proving that a claim is valid appears to be nigh on impossible. Even if successful, though, lawyer fees and the time involved could become extremely restrictive to most players.
As stated above, this is not a particularly satisfactory approach, but it might be the safest and most sensible.
However, if you are still determined to go forward with a claim, please check out this link for some helpful advice: http://theppa.org/resources/legal/guide/