Two reliable sources close to Absolute Poker and UB have indicated that players owed money from the two CEREUS Network sites could be repaid 15 to 20 cents on the dollar. This amount would be paid out over time, although the specifics of how and when refunds would be processed are not yet known. You’ll recall that in late October, Absolute Poker and UB’s parent company, Blanca Games, proposed liquidating its assets in order to repay players. However, no further news about the liquidation has been released.
Earlier this week, Absolute Poker co-founder Brent Beckley pled guilty to conspiracyfor his involvement in operating the online poker room. On Black Friday, Beckley and fellow Absolute Poker co-founder Scott Tom were indicted on charges that included violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and operating an illegal gambling business. Beckley likely faces about a year-and-a-half behind bars for his involvement in Absolute Poker.
Tom is rumored to be buying up properties in Antigua, PocketFives has learned. You’ll recall that sites like Bodog (now Bovada in the United States) have a large presence in that country. He is not expected to follow suit turning himself into U.S. authorities.
A source close to Absolute Poker and UB told us prior to Tuesday’s article being published that the room was standing by and waiting for the DOJ to act: “We’re still in status quo mode, waiting on the DOJ.” When asked what the site was waiting for the DOJ to do, the same representative did not respond.
In a thread in the Poker Sites forum, PocketFives co-founder Adam Smallrevealed, “From what I’ve been hearing around, it seems that people will be paid significantly less than the full amount of what they’re owed. I’m hearing under 25 cents on the dollar. It does seem like they’re legitimately closing shop and getting what’s left of their funds paid out soon.”
Small later indicated that one or more of his sources were inside Absolute Poker and UB: “This isn’t speculation or hearsay, it’s word from multiple sources directly from the inside. I can’t predict the future any more than you can, but this is what people within the UB/AP organization are saying will happen.” Other sources reiterated to PocketFives that Blanca Games could liquidate in order to repay players. Blanca officials have been largely mute since Black Friday.
In the same thread, members of the PocketFives community reacted to the news that they could be paid less than what they’re owed. One poster questioned, “What happened to all the money? Did they keep it for fines and legal fees or what? I’m sure I have less than most here tied up, but my ability to generate income was also affected and if it’s my whole balance, it’s a month’s rent for me. [The percentage payout] mentioned above is a cell phone bill, so I’d like to know also.”
Another poster bemoaned, “Buh bye well over $1K, which is chump change compared to so many others that I have heard amounts from.”
In mid-June, Subject: Poker published an article claiming that the two CEREUS Network sites owed players worldwide $54 million, but only had $5 million to $6 million in cash on-hand, or 9% to 11% of the total. Subject: Poker expounded, “The $5 million to $6 million figure, which is not exact, takes into account about $3 million in severance pay to CEREUS’ Costa Rican employees. It does not include money that was frozen when some of CEREUS’ bank accounts were seized by the United States Department of Justice on April 15th.”
According to PokerScout, which monitors online poker room traffic, CEREUS’ cash game volume has slid 99% over the last year to a seven-day running average of just 11 real money ring game players. The network was driven from the U.S. market following Black Friday and, along with Full Tilt Poker, it has not yet repaid U.S. players. UB’s promotions do not appear to be up-to-date on its website and the room’s blog has not received a new entry since Black Friday.
The Canadian-based Kahnawake Gaming Commission licenses both Absolute Poker and UB. You can reach the KGC at email@example.com. Visit the thread in the Poker Sites forum for more details. We’ll keep you posted on the latest from around the poker industry right here on PocketFives.