CEREUS Network Bankruptcy Imminent After Black Friday

Following the events of Black Friday, it’s been nothing but bad news for the CEREUS Poker Network’s two flagship sites – UB.com and Absolute Poker. Not so long ago, these two sites were two of the largest and most well-respected poker rooms in the industry, but within weeks the U.S. Department of Justice’s seizure and pending prosecution of the sites has all but ruined them.

Whereas PokerStars’ cash player numbers have largely rebounded despite an absence of American players, UB.com and Absolute’s numbers have actually gotten worse with time. Anyone that’s been tracking the sites’ statistics knows that their future is grim, but this week’s bankruptcy reports came sooner than even the most pessimistic poker fans predicted.

Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have already started dispersing American funds back to their former U.S. members, but this week Blanca Gaming – the company that owns both UB and Absolute – notified members that not only should they not expect similar payments any time soon, withdrawals of any kind have been indefinitely suspended. In an email to their shareholders, Blanca confessed that they had “no cash on hand and no prospects for any cash flow for the foreseeable future.”

The above announcement came in conjunction with a mass layoff of 95% of Blanca Gaming’s on-site staff. As a result of those layoffs, the Costa Rican government (where Blanca Gaming has its base of operations) recently raided the Absolute and UB offices in an attempt to acquire the funds necessary to pay the laid off employees the wages they are still due. Not surprisingly, the CEREUS Network founders – Scott Brent and Olman Rimola – are nowhere to be found and are now wanted not only by the FBI but also by the Costa Rican authorities.

PokerStars has also been feeling some heat this week. As a result of Absolute Poker and UB.com’s shady dealings, PokerStars’ Costa Rican offices were also raided, but because the popular poker brand’s payroll is up to date, no charges were filed and the site’s staffers were able to return to work within hours. PokerStars received far worse news from Las Vegas via their one-time partners at Wynn Resorts.

While other live casino brands quickly pulled out of their online partnerships following Black Friday, Wynn initially remained faithful to PokerStars as the two companies worked together to lobby for the legalization of online poker. Once it was clear that the American online poker market would be off-limits to PokerStars for the foreseeable future, Wynn ultimately decided to pick another battle and dropped their newly forged partnership.

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