Poker tournament pulled as Irish firm fails to deliver cash
A TELEVISED poker tournament in the UK had to be cancelled after the Irish-based company sponsoring it failed to produce the promised prize money, it has emerged.
The TV company covering the tournament in Cardiff stopped filming because the funds did not arrive from online gambling company Full Tilt Poker in Dublin.
Full Tilt Poker, the parent of Dublin-based Pocket Kings, was sponsoring the event, which included a number of professional poker players and celebrities.
Pocket Kings employs some 700 people at its offices in Cherrywood, Co Dublin. A spokesman for the company yesterday was unable to comment. Press reports indicated the six players sponsored by Full Tilt were not able to produce the $20,000 (€13,700) entrance fee for the tournament.
Presentable, the television company covering the tournament, blamed Full Tilt for the collapse of the tournament, but emphasised filming had stopped with Full Tilt's agreement.
"The money hadn't come through for some of the players, basically the Full Tilt ones," said managing director Megan Stuart. "We would have been staging the tournament under false pretences had we carried on," she added.
The news is sure to raise questions about the finances of the company, which is embroiled in a legal battle with the US government.
Two weeks ago, American authorities shut down Full Tilt and two other rivals' websites in the United States, accusing them of illegal gambling, bank fraud, and money laundering.
The move was the latest by the authorities there where it is illegal for companies to facilitate payments for the purpose of gambling in the country.
However, when the government restored Full Tilt's ".com" domain to allow the company to return funds to its customers, Full Tilt said there remained "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".
In contrast, its rival PokerStars, which was also caught up in the crackdown, assured its customers that "deposits are completely safe" and insisted that "money is readily available to meet withdrawal demands".
Preet Bharara, the US attorney leading the investigation of the companies, said that "no individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player's deposited funds."
The latest accounts for Pocket Kings showed the company's gross profits for the 12 months to April 30, 2010, nearly trebled from €44.7m to €125.2m. Profits after tax more than doubled to €12.1m from €5.9m a year earlier.