4/18/2012 : CONFUSION REIGNS AT BETONLINE'S POKER OPERATION
Conflicting company information, a slew of complaints and a possible network change keep players on tenterhooks
The management at Betonline, a Panama-based online sportsbook and poker operator, appear to be at sixes and sevens over the future of the company's controversial internet poker room, with players reporting conflicting company information, a slew of complaints and a possible network change.
For some weeks now players on various poker message boards have been reporting a growing number of questionable payment delays or disqualifications by Betonline Poker, which uses the Chico (formerly Action) Poker Network – the only poker room on the network to accept US action.
Even the network information pushed out by Betonline representatives – that it was on the nebulous and possibly fictitious Hero Poker Network – has been questioned but never clarified, adding to tensions between players and operator.
This week the site suddenly shut down without communicating its intentions to its players beforehand.
Confused and anxious players who contacted Support were given conflicting stories about the company's status and intentions, including one that the site was undergoing maintenance and would return soon – a classic delaying tactic that has been used by dubious operators before.
That was given the lie when the Chico Poker Network advised players that Betonline's licensing agreement had been terminated, implying that the troublesome operator had been given its marching orders by the network.
The Chico communication was terse but informative, saying:
"Access to BetOnline has been shut down permanently, as they are no longer a licensee on the network. Your poker customer balance has already been pushed back to BetOnline and we request that you go to their website."
Betonline then rather belatedly communicated with its players, telling them:
"The good news is that we have a fantastic new poker licensee which will be available to you shortly – all you will have to do is install the new poker software as soon as it is available," and offering a number of incentives to make the change…without advising to which network it was switching.
Later still, another communication from Betonline created further confusion, telling players:
"In an effort to provide you with an improved poker product, the BetOnline.ag poker room will be closed for maintenance over the next few days. To help us expedite this process please log out of the poker client if you are currently logged in. If you play poker at BetOnline and your poker account is currently funded, your money will be transferred over to your sports betting account within the next 72 hours. Once the upgrades are completed, you will be able to transfer your funds back over to your poker account and resume playing immediately."
The speculative consensus is that Betonline has been booted off Chico and is looking for a new US-friendly home – possibly with Cake Poker Network – although this is by no means certain.
What is clear is that Betonline's management needs to take control of the situation and communicate clearly if it is assuage the concerns of its players and retain their business.
It's not as if the company is inexperienced; it has been in the business, initially as Best Line Sports, since 2001 and is understood to employ a substantial workforce in Panama City.