Following nearly a year of failing to make a public statement to the poker world in the wake of Black Friday, Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar ended his silence in an interview with PokerStrategy.com. The entirety of the three-question interview is below. For the impatient, we have included a tl;dr version of the interview after its conclusion.
PokerStrategy.com: Ray, there has been public outrage surrounding the fact that you have been silent since the Black Friday shutdown and indictments. Can you say why you haven’t made any public statements?
Ray Bitar: There are two reasons. One is the ongoing legal process which has precluded me from providing any relevant information surrounding the on-going investigation, and of course, I have not wanted to jeopardize the process in any way. While I could have made general statements throughout this process, they would not directly relate to the issues under investigation. Any such statements would be so general in nature that they would not provide answers to the many questions people understandably have.
The second reason is that, along with others, I have been working every single day since Black Friday to ensure players are repaid, which has been my top priority, as well as working on the future plans of FTP. This work had to be done out of the scrutiny of the public eye. And so while it might satisfy people to have specific information about those ongoing discussions – and it would certainly take some of the heat off myself – I am convinced that such public statements would diminish the likelihood of a successful outcome, which is what we need to be focused on.
My love for the sport and the poker community has made it very difficult to keep silent, particularly in light of the many angry sentiments directed at FTP, myself and others, in newspapers and blogs. Given the lack of information that has been made public, I can certainly understand these sentiments. My primary focus has been and continues to be working towards getting us to where we want to be – the repayment of the players and the survival of the company. I have been fully dedicated to this cause and am doing everything possible for a beneficial outcome.
PokerStrategy.com: What’s been happening since Black Friday?
Ray Bitar: My life has drastically changed since last April. As a manager of Tiltware, I have been cooperating fully with the DOJ so they can complete their investigation. Beyond that, I spend a good deal of my time making sure that FTP survives and that the players get repaid. I know that these events have hurt a lot of innocent people and it’s my main job to make things right. I continue to work on these issues, day and night until we resolve them.
PokerStrategy.com: Is there anything you would like to say to the online poker community?
Ray Bitar: I would like to offer my sincere apology to all who have been affected by these events and to clarify that my silence was not an attempt to “hide,” or “ignore,” the situation. It was done out of necessity to ensure the focus remained on the continued efforts to reach the best outcome for the players. My entire focus is on obtaining a successful resolution for the players. I hope that before long I can provide some good news for all of the players involved.
PokerStrategy.com: Ray Bitar has graciously offered us some of his time for a brief interview. Ray, what’s up?
Ray Bitar: blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
Basically the CEO (who should have been long ago fired) of a company who owes $200 million+ to online poker players around the world is silent for 11 months then decides to reassure everyone that he genuinely is “sorry” and is working to get people their money back. Also, really, PokerStrategy.com? He “graciously” offered you his time? It might have been reasonable to skip the niceties when publishing this highly belated statement from a man who did next to nothing within that statement to grant the poker world the explanation and answers they are owed.