Saturday February 27,2016 : LATEST PIERSON INTERVIEW REVEALS LITTLE (Update)
Reveals that one member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board had reservations about his historical involvement in the UltimateBet scandal.
The much anticipated second half of Gaming Intelligence's interview with Iovation founder and CEO Greg Pierson turned out – in the opinion of many readers – to be something of an anti-climax that left questions unanswered, and suggestions that deeper probing on the UltimateBet issue would have been justified.
Industry people were referring to his time as co-founder and CEO at ielogic (forerunner of Iovation) and UltimateBet during online poker's worst ever "God Mode" software cheating scandal.
Although evidence has never been adduced proving that Pierson was directly involved with shareholder Russ Hamilton in the hole card cheating that robbed players of an estimated $20 million, there have been accusations and documents claiming to show that he was at least complicit in trying to cover up the scandal or reduce the amount of compensation the company would have to pay to players.
Last week he was able after two years of attempts to obtain a Nevada gaming supply licence for Iovation, albeit with eight mainly reporting conditions attached, which opened the industry's old UltimateBet wounds yet again and caused an outcry in the online poker media.
Pierson revealed in his Gaming Intelligence interview that two of the three Nevada Gaming Control Board members examining his application were positive about giving him a licence, but a third focused on his relationship with Hamilton, and asked why he had not defended himself publicly against allegations of his involvement in the scandal (that question does not appear to have been fully answered).
Pierson apparently admired Hamilton, a major shareholder capable of raising investment funds for the company, who he describes as a "larger than life" figure. That could gel with other reports from investigative journalist Haley Hintze that UltimateBet workers had the perception that Hamilton could call the shots on company matters like software.
But Pierson insists that he had no inkling that the man was the massive poker cheater that investigators and regulators later claimed he was. One of his statements is particularly hard to grasp; he said:
“Maybe I’m stupid or naïve, but I don’t believe he (Hamilton) wanted to rob players. The success of the site was his success. It never occurred to me that he wanted to rob players. He certainly could have because he had access to everything. He just wanted the site to be perfect.”
Unfortunately the interview did not delve more deeply into these troubling allegations, leaving unanswered issues which have reportedly been supported by tapes from a former Hamilton assistant called Travis Makar.
The Gambling Intelligence interview also appears to take a swipe at investigative journalist Haley Hintze, who has done much to clarify, gather and analyse evidence from a wide range of sources on the UltimateBet scandal, characterising her contributions as "sniping" on poker forums and implying that she is a "conspiracy-minded" blogger.
Hintze had the last word within hours of the interview appearing, though: she tweeted:
“Re: Greg Pierson and @iovation, Greg ordered all records connected to his ‘ATM’ UB player account to be deleted. Should the NGC [NGCB] ask why?”
One thing is certain: Pierson will be happy about the award of the licence, but wishes the UB scandal would go away. The odds on that happening are not good – it's been over a decade but the massive hole card cheating that occurred during his watch as CEO still has the capacity to outrage poker players everywhere.