Producers of a poker show in Cardiff were forced to halt filming after funds from Full Tilt, the shows sponsor, failed to be wired to them. The money was supposed to be coming in from Ireland, where the operators of Full Tilt Poker – Poker Kings – resides. The event was to feature several prominent celebrity poker players, including boxer Audley Harrison, Full Tilt pro Erick Lindgren, and Guardian columnist and PokerStars pro Victoria Coren.
The tournament structure was supposed to feature 10 games of poker, with six players pledging £20,000 and the winner taking a potential prize pot of $120,000. However, filming was forced to halt after only three games when it became clear that the players from Full Tilt has not had their entry fee sent from HQ. The event was being filmed by Presentable, a branch of the Zodiak Media Group, which has produced shows such as The Poker Lounge, Late Night Poker, Poker Nations Cup, The Great British Poker tour, The Willam Hill Poker Grand Prix, Celebrity Poker Club and the All Star Poker Challenge.
The managing director for Presentable, Megan Stuart, stated: “The money hadn’t come through for some of the players, basically the Full Tilt ones. We would have been staging the tournament under false pretences had we carried on.” She also spoke out against the rumours that the production company had stormed off the set, saying instead that the decision to halt production was in a mutual agreement with Full Tilt. The news came as something of a worry to the Poker Kings HQ in Ireland, however, where 700 staff are still employed.
This has raised speculation that the company may soon find itself in a dire financial situation, if they are not already. Speaking on their delay in returning funds to U.S. Players, Full Tilt stated that “unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future…Full Tilt Poker has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government.” This is despite having been returned their .com domain on Wednesday by the FBI, in order to expedite funds back to players in the U.S.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI are seeking $3 billion (£1.8 billion) in penalties from Full Tilt, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, whose domains were seized on Friday 15th of April (also known as ‘Black Friday’). Full Tilt was founded in 2004 by Raymond Bitar who, along with the founders of the other incriminated poker sites, are accused of illegal gambling, money laundering and bank fraud by the United States federal government.