In a deal confirmed today by the United States Attorney Southern District of New York (SDNY), Absolute Poker and the SDNY have agreed to terms that will facilitate the return of US players’ funds.
The agreement, first announced by Absolute Poker in a press release on Wednesday, will allow for intermediaries to process withdrawals, but does not permit the return of the seized dot-com domain names.
In the press release, the SDNY states:
[The] Restraining Order issued against multiple bank accounts utilized by the companies and their payment processors do not prohibit the companies from refunding players’ money. And today’s agreement will provide assurances to third parties working with Absolute Poker in its legitimate efforts to return funds to U.S. players.
The importance of the return of funds to US players was emphasized by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara:
[...] Absolute Poker has at all times been free to reimburse any player’s deposited funds. This Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them. And as today’s agreement continues to demonstrate, we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to such players.
Large parts of the press release were worded similarly to the deal made with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker three week ago, including a clause that Absolute Poker “would not allow for, faciliate, or provide the ability for players located in the United States to play online poker for 'real money.’”
At the time of writing, PokerFuse was able to confirm that US players are indeed still allowed to play on the Cereus Network. Although there is a message pop-up that warns that US players are not permitted to play, there is no actual restriction in place to prevent a US player from sitting in real-money games and playing. This is in contrast to PokerStars and Full Tilt, who acted to stop real-money play for US players soon after the “Black Friday” indictments.
In a strange twist, unlike the Full Tilt/Stars deal – which was named a “Domain-name use agreement” – this deal does not allow for the return of three dot-coms seized by the Department of Justice. The press release is explicit in stating that the agreement “does not provide for the restoration of domain names” used by Cereus.