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Hundreds of Dublin jobs at risk as Full Tilt Poker loses licence

Hundreds of jobs could be on the line, following the decision of a Channel Islands gambling regulator to withdraw the site’s licence.

ONE OF THE WORLD’S most popular poker websites – which employs over 500 people through various subsidiary companies in Ireland – has had its gambling licence withdrawn.

Full Tilt Poker, which was licenced by gambling authorities in Alderney, had its licence withdrawn yesterday after it concluded that the site had misled officials about its financial status.

The decision came after a three-day hearing on the island last week, investigating the circumstances around the suspension of the site’s licence in June.

That suspension had followed accusations that the company had been inappropriately siphoning off the cash deposits of its users – which had been lodged with the site for use as bets in poker games – and distributing them among its management and major players.

Prosecutors in New York believe that Full Tilt’s management had taken some €325m from customers’ accounts since 2007, with much of that cash being shared among the full-time professional players under contract to play on the site.

Earlier this year, the company had €286m of users’ cash on deposit – but only €44m of cash in its accounts, meaning it was not adequately capitalised to refund customers’ cash on demand, as professional poker websites are expected to.

The Wall Street Journal said a person close to the company was hopeful it would be able to announce a deal with an investor who would allow it to pay back the extra €240m it owes to its players.

The paper said such a deal would be dependant on the site reaching a settlement with the US Department of Justice, which is seeking some $1bn in damages from the company and its managers.

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A spokesperson for the site had written last week that the settlement deal would also be largely dependant on the site retaining its gambling licence.

If such a settlement cannot be secured, the viability of the company could be at stake – with hundreds of jobs on the line in Dublin.

Full Tilt Poker’s two largest subsidiaries, Pocket Kings Ltd and Pocket Kings Consulting Ltd, are both based in Ireland. The former company provides It and software, while the latter handles the site’s customer support functions.

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Gavan Reilly

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