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PokerStars, the largest Internet poker site on the planet, has agreed to acquire former competitor Full Tilt Poker and fork over $184 million in owed money to overseas poker players in order to settle civil charges brought on by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which accused the site of sidestepping U.S. regulations related to online gambling and money laundering. As part of the settlement, PokerStars will also forfeit $547 million to the U.S. government.
"We are pleased to announce these settlements by Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, which allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "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."
The Manhattan branch of the DOJ said that U.S. victims will be compensated out of the $547 million PokerStars is forfeiting to the U.S. government, though it's unclear exactly how much is expected to be released. Also as part of the settlement, PokerStars is prohibited from offering online poker in the U.S. for real money unless and until it because legal to do so.
"We are delighted we have been able to put this matter behind us, and also secured our ability to operate in the United States of America whenever the regulations allow," said Mark Scheinberg (PDF), Chairman of the Board of PokerStars.