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Online Poker Companies Strike Deal With Justice, Will Reimburse U.S. Customers

Pokerstars, an online gambling site, says that it has reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice in which it has agreed pay the government $547 million over three years, part of which will be used to reimburse customers of the site Full Tilt Poker.

International customers of Full Tilt Poker will also regain access to their money — about $184 million — within 90 days after the deal comes to a close, Poker Star said on its blog. U.S. customers will be reimbursed through a program run by the government.

Under the deal, Poker Star will acquire Full Tilt Poker, which at one time was one of the biggest gaming sites in the U.S., and begin operating the shuttered site in the United States once legislation allows for it.

In a press release, Poker Star said it was not admitting any wrong doing.

"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," Mark Scheinberg, Chairman of the Board of PokerStars said in a statement. "This outcome demonstrates our continuing global leadership of the online poker industry, and our commitment to working with governments and regulators to ensure the highest standards of protection for players."

The poker news website, Diamond Flush Poker, said that the announcement lets those players who had deposited money at Full Tilt Poker "breathe easier."

NPR's Mike Pesca reported that in 2011, the FBI shut down FullTiltPoker.com, AbsolutePoker.com and PokerStars.com, charging them with fraud and illegal gambling. The shutdown also left players — some who made a living playing online poker — in limbo. Non of the players were charged, but they were still out of luck, with their money on hold for more than a year.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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