In a prepared statement for the media read after his court appearance yesterday, Bitar reaffirmed his commitment to the repayment of players, stating: “I believe we are near the end of a very long road.”
“I have worked hard on possible solutions to get the players repaid. Returning today is part of that process,” he said.
Although it falls short of a direct apology to players, Bitar did admit that “Full Tilt should never have gotten into a position where it could not repay player funds.”
“When Full Tilt Poker’s operations were shut down last year, it was not able to refund money it was holding in players’ accounts,” stated Bitar defense attorney John Baughman. “We hope that we will be able to resolve Mr. Bitar’s remaining legal issues in a way that is satisfying to all parties,” he said.
In an email to Pocket Kings staff, Bitar confirmed the there were ongoing talks with old rival PokerStars to purchase the assets of Full Tilt and arrange for repayment of players.
Stating that repayment of players is a “top priority,” he added: “It is as important as ever that we all do everything possible to make that happen and, hopefully our deal with Poker Stars will very soon make our goal a reality. My return to the US is part of this process.”
The email went on: “.. we have made arrangements for Poker Stars to guarantee all July salaries. You should therefore have no concern about coming to work during this period. After that, we expect that your employment contracts will be assumed by the buyer of the company’s assets.”
Although there was little doubt that PokerStars had reached an agreement to purchase Full Tilt Poker, the statement is the first confirmation from someone high up at either company that the deal is still progressing.
Questions remain over just how voluntary Bitar’s surrender was. According to an Associated Press report, US authorities had been working with Irish authorities and was prepared to extradite Bitar if he did not return voluntarily.