12/20/11 :  Independent third party trust with FSA oversight will give players confidence in payment – and online poker giant will shoulder payment processor risk to boot.
 
The world's largest online poker provider, Pokerstars, showed again this week that it is in touch with player concerns by announcing further protections for player funds.
 
Pokerstars has always segregated its players' funds away from business assets, but its new plan formalises the process and introduces an independent third party element for greater protection.
 
In the wake of the Black Friday shutdowns, in which Pokerstars was able to pay its players where rivals failed, the company is planning an independent, third party trust that will be overseen by the UK Financial Services Administration.
 
The trust company Pokerstars has chosen is owned by IFG Group plc, an established financial services company with market listings in London and Dublin.
 
The poker giant plans to first introduce the new system to the French market, and is already in discussions for other regulated markets such as Spain, Italy and Belgium. Company execs say they are hopeful that the example will be followed by other industry firms, improving the lot of players and enhancing the industry's image.
 
Chief executive officer Gaby Campos said in a statement Friday: “The security of player accounts and the integrity of online poker play are fundamental to the ongoing and future success of the industry.
 
“We have developed a unique structure that is ideal for the newly regulating markets. We hope that all responsible licensing authorities will ultimately insist that online gaming companies maintain the full amount of customers’ funds in fully segregated, independently managed accounts.”
 
“We are pleased to partner with the thought-leaders in European regulation to establish an industry-wide standard for ensuring player funds are protected.
 
Pokerstars emphasised that the trust fund concept will ensure that player funds are kept in bank accounts in regulated banks with balances at least equal to outstanding amounts owed to players at any given time…and that independent oversight is constantly maintained.
 
The online poker provider went a step further by noting that it will shoulder the risk associated with payment processors that fail to transfer money from a player deposit.