Earlier this week the Justice Department (DOJ) sued the owners of the online poker website Full Tilt Poker for allegedly defrauding its thousands of online poker players out of more than $440 million. But the card sharks aren’t going down without a fight.
On Wednesday, lawyers representing Full Tilt say the company didn’t run a Ponzi scheme, as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara claimed in a press release. Rather, the gambling website merely may have been a mismanaged business operation.
“A Ponzi scheme requires an investment vehicle in order to receive a certain rate of high return,” said Jeff Ifrah, an attorney for Full Tilt CEO Raymond Bitar. “None of those things happened here.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the “Ponzi scheme” label is troubling to Full Tilt because it could mean that it will lose its license to operate outside the U.S.
The DOJ claims Full Tilt’s board allegedly misrepresented the security and availability of players’ funds, which were purportedly used to pay the board members and owners. The government claims the scheme took place between April 2007 and April 2011, when the company stopped operating in the U.S.