PokerStars reached a settlement with the Justice Department, part of which will involve it paying $547 million to the U.S., more than a year after regulators made a bid to close down the card-playing Internet site and two others like it.
As part of the agreement, PokerStars is buying Full Tilt Poker, one of the other sites the DOJ sued in April 2011. Part of the money will go toward reimbursing U.S. customers of Full Tilt. PokerStars repaid what it owed American players shortly after it closed its U.S. operations, the company said. Full Tilt players outside the United States will be repaid $184 million, PokerStars said.
In a statement Tuesday, PokerStars said the payment to the U.S. can be made over a three-year period. While unavailable in the U.S. since the spring of last year, PokerStars has continued running its businesses overseas. The company is based on the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea.
PokerStars didn't admit to doing anything wrong. While it isn't allowed to have a division in the U.S. for now, the settlement will allow it "to apply to relevant U.S. gaming authorities, under both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands, to offer real money online poker when State or Federal governments introduce a framework to regulate such activity," the company said.
Since launching in late 2001, PokerStars says it's gotten more than 49 million registered players at its website.
In a separate statement, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara addressed the settlement, saying the arrangement would get "significant compensation" for players. "Today's settlements demonstrate that if you engage in conduct that violates the laws of the United States, as we alleged in this case, then even if you are doing so from across the ocean, you will have to answer for that conduct and turn over your ill-gotten gains," he said.
The U.S. filed criminal charges against 11 people in its original indictment surrounding the Internet poker case, and seven of them have been arrested, six of whom have pled guilty. Of those who have entered pleas, the DOJ said five are awaiting sentencing, while one was sentenced in June to three months behind bars.