Sunday September 1,2012 : MEDIA CORP SPEAKS ON PURPLE LOUNGE POKER DEBACLE (Update)
With aggrieved players collaborating on possible legal remedies, liquidated poker room's parent company gives its perspective
Players left unpaid when the UK listed company Media Corp shut down its Purple Lounge online casino and poker room earlier this year have no intention of meekly writing off their in some cases considerable losses, it transpired this week with the news that at least 50 punters are assembling information and consulting with lawyers on losses that allegedly total over $500,000.
The players are owed a reported average of around $10,000 each and claim that Media Corp did not include them in the creditors list it provided to the liquidators of the UK Purple Lounge company, which players claim handled their financial transactions.
Media Corp, however, advised this week that Purple Lounge players are creditors of the regulated company, Purple Lounge (Malta), and have been listed as such for that company.
The relevant player balances were held in the Maltese company, Media Corp points out, noting that
the process in Malta, where most of the claims lay, is court led and somewhat cumbersome.
The Media Corp statement is broadly in agreement with estimates on various message boards that amounts owed to players could approach a million dollars.
"We believe the outstanding balance of players funds is approximately $800,000," the Media Corp statement comments, adding that the detailed statement of affairs which must be published as part of the liquidation process will clarify the entire position.
Meanwhile, the player action group is currently engaged in locating more Purple Lounge players prejudiced by the gambling website’s shuttering, and members are busy assembling a detailed picture that includes claimant details, amount owed, dates of deposits, screen-shots, and any potential evidence for sustaining a possible action for trading whilst insolvent.
Media Corp management is currently punting its new gaming venture Intabet, and this week responded to an invitation by InfoPowa to break its corporate silence and present its perspective on the Purple Lounge debacle.
In a statement the current management of Media Corp said it was keen to "ensure that any speculation about player balances and potential consequences of the liquidation of Purple Lounge and its impact on players and regulators is based on the facts."
The company said that it was restricted in some ways in its communications by the liquidation process and a desire "not to jeopardise any claims by placing one creditor above another."
The statement noted that the process in Malta, where most of the player claims lay, is court led and somewhat cumbersome.
"To be clear, we know a small group of players have outstanding balances of over $10,000, some of whom are assessing their position, though any claim we believe would be against Purple Lounge and former Purple Lounge Directors and Management," the statement explains.
"The liquidation process requires people to register their debts and each player with a balance will be contacted by the liquidators over the coming weeks.
"If there has been any wrongdoing the new management team will be supportive of any action to bring wrongdoers into account."
The statement specifically addressed four questions put by InfoPowa:
Q1) Can Media Corp verify that player claims of at least $500,000 remain unpaid?
A1) We believe the outstanding balance of players funds is approximately $800,000 – the detailed statement of affairs which must be published as part of the liquidation process will clarify the entire position.
Q2) Confirm that Purple Lounge players prejudiced by the PL shut down were not listed as creditors in documents supplied by Media Corp to the PL liquidators.
A2) This is a misunderstanding, the Purple Lounge Players are creditors of the regulated company, Purple Lounge (Malta) (not the parent company Purple Lounge UK), and are listed and [have] been supplied as creditors to that company. The relevant player balances were held in the Maltese company.
Q3) Management has remained silent on the fate of PL players who are owed – would Media Corp executives like to comment on the player issues now facing them?
A3) A key consideration in this process is the very technical nature of the liquidation process, it is important that all creditors are treated equally – and this is impossible to assess until the liquidator has assessed the entire situation.
Up until now, due to the complexities involved, the fact that all PL staff have left and the process that needs to be followed to ensure a fair and orderly liquidation, it has taken longer than planned to get all the information together. The silence is due to the fact that no-one wished to jeopardise the process.
Q4) Are there any plans to resurrect Purple Lounge (perhaps via the Malta company) in the furtherance of the Intabet enterprise as was intimated earlier this year?
A4) It was considered before the acquisition, but once the new management had reviewed the situation it became clear very quickly that there was no option but to close the operation due to the financial and operational failings of the past.
Looked at on face value, what can players take away from the Media Corp statement?
Perhaps reassuringly, players have not been entirely abandoned – a possibility indicated by the company's hitherto poor player communications on the issue.
In following its assertion that the player balances were held by Purple Lounge Malta, the process there has included notification of player interests, and players can expect to be contacted by liquidators soon.
That said, and given the history of this sorry affair, it appears unlikely that players will be made whole again through the Malta liquidation…and there is nothing in the Media Corp statement to suggest rescue from the Purple Lounge parent group.
The apparent failure of the Maltese regulator (which has also been conspicuously silent on the PL player disaster) to enforce the segregation of player deposits offers little comfort to aggrieved players and appears to have been pushed aside.
The question of wrongdoing on the part of former Media Corp and Purple Lounge executives remains open and is as yet judicially unanswered.
The present Media Corp management "will be supportive of any action to bring wrongdoers into account," for what that is worth; many players have expressed outrage at the ease with which the former management appeared to walk away from this expensive failure.
What is abundantly clear is a real need for honest communication between Media Corp and the Purple Lounge players seeking satisfaction; there are potential benefits to both sides in opening and maintaining an integrity-driven dialogue to dispel uncertainty and speculation.