Loans to Players Holding up Full Tilt Deal?

Behnam Dayanim, the attorney for French investor Groupe Bernard Tapie, said recently that outstanding loans to players are part of the reason for GBT’s purchase of infamous poker site Full Tilt being delayed.  When I first read that, I assumed these loans must have been small investments made to up and coming players trying to get their bankrolls established and their feet under them.  Imagine my surprise when I learned the total debt may be as high as $20 Million and is owed by the likes of Phil Ivey, David Benyamine and (one of my personal favorite players) Erick Lindgren.
For me, this begs an obvious question.  Based on what we know about the financial success these players have had at the tables, and the amount of money Ivey (and presumably the other two) were receiving from Full Tilt in compensation, why would they possibly also need to borrow more cash, especially in the seven to eight figures range?  Perhaps Erica Schoenberg, who has been linked romantically to both Benyamine and Lindgren, is a really expensive date.
For what it’s worth, here’s my theory.  Full Tilt was a cash cow.  There was a river of money flowing into the company with no sign that it might ever dry up.  The principals involved paid themselves money from time to time without much regard for whether it would be characterized on the books as salary, dividends, loans, etc.   It was only when Black Friday hit and everything went sideways that the accounting practices of Full Tilt came under scrutiny.  In the due diligence process, investors obviously asked to see the books and at that point money that had left the company needed for the first time to be explained.  Money that went to certain individuals (including Ivey, Lindgren and Benyamine) was classified as loans, perhaps even to the surprise of those involved.  That would explain why there hasn’t been much of an effort to get these “loans” paid back.
Erick, Phil, David – how’d I do?

The following two tabs change content below.


At CLARK.LAW, we’ve built a different type of law firm. Our attorneys and staff have impressive educational and professional experience – but, unlike traditional law firms, we embrace modern technology to create efficient workflows and processes. Today’s business leaders should have access to high-quality legal guidance without subjecting themselves to the waste and excessive overhead that plagues traditional law firms.

Latest posts by CLARK.LAW (see all)