Poker Room Failures Hurt Industry Reputation

Three major failures are leaving players out of pocket this year alone With 2012 only half way through, there have already been three major disasters involving online poker rooms, resulting in players suffering prejudice. Following the opprobrium attached to last year's Full Tilt Poker debacle and the earlier hole card scandal at Absolute Poker and UBPoker, it would be surprising if players did not regard the industry with some suspicion.

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The manner in which managements have behaved in this year's three major online poker issues has shocked many players, with deception as to the gravity of financial problems; ‘suspensions' that quickly turn into liquidations; and an arrogant refusal to communicate and respond to anxious players with money tied up in accounts has been a marked feature, indicating a surprisingly low level of management integrity and professionalism.

Everleaf Poker remains largely uncommunicative several months after pulling out of the US market and leaving players unpaid. The company suggested impractical financial channels for reimbursement, and was shown to be economical with the truth when a processing company revealed that it had offered to organize its player pay outs but had been rebuffed.

Questions have also been asked about the corporate maneuvering of Media Corp, parent group of the Purple Lounge online casino and poker room, which went from slow-pay tactics to ‘technical problems' and then to an abrupt suspension of operations which turned out to be a liquidation exercise, leaving bewildered players unpaid and quite remarkably ignored by the management.

There were subsequent disclosures of massive losses and loans from the parent group, showing that the company's parlous financial situation had clearly been known for some time, although it did not stop accepting player deposits.

It also transpired that the company had quietly terminated its licence with the Malta regulator, the LGA, and there are now doubts as to whether the company's player deposits were segregated as required by the regulator…which itself continues to ignore attempts to create a dialogue and inform players.

The most recent scandal involves the growing number of player complaints across the Internet regarding unauthorized withdrawals from credit cards at Merge. Yet here again the network remains publicly silent, opening the issue to speculation instead of managing the crisis in a professional and communicative manner and attempting to explain what is happening and how the crisis is being addressed.

Recent disclosures that cards that were only presented for verification have also been abused would appear to indicate that the problem is more serious than a questionable processor.

The charitable explanation for these shocking incidents and the inept manner in which so many are handled could be that managements do not have crisis plans in place to properly address issues such as those above.

Sadly it appears that a lack of integrity and player sensitivity might also be the reason behind some management failures to treat players with honesty and respect, along with ineffective and equally uncommunicative regulatory supervision.

This is especially so when – as is almost always the case – the players are financially prejudiced. It is almost criminally reprehensible for any management to deliberately deceive financially affected players when a company is in financial difficulties….and it does little for the reputation of the industry when unpleasant ‘surprises' are suddenly sprung on players and affiliates.

Hopefully the many solid and honest operators in the business will see the Everleaf, Purple Lounge and Merge issues as matters that negatively impact player trust and therefore business, persuading them to review and ensure their houses are in order in the event of misfortune striking.

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