The cheating scandals that have engulfed the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet online poker operations sprang back to prominence this week as the Kahnawake Gaming Commission issued a statement in an apparent riposte to comments made on the issue earlier by the chairman of the Poker Players Alliance .
And player-detectives on the huge 2+2 poker message board continued to investigate the scandal, alleging that millions of dollars are involved.
The KGC statement notes that the KGC has been continuously regulating online gaming for over 9 years – longer than most, if not all, other jurisdictions – and has proven to be a world leader with regulations and methodologies that have established a regulatory environment in which online gaming can be conducted fairly and securely.
"The KGC's success as a regulator is evidenced by the fact that a significant percentage of the online gaming industry has chosen to locate and operate within Kahnawá:ke," the statement adds, pointing out that given the length of time that it has acted as a regulator, and the significant number of licensees under its control, the KGC's record has been exemplary.
The statement goes on to recap events in the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet – two sites regulated by the KGC and owned by Tokwiro Enterprises – online poker cheating scandals. It acknowledges the diligence and sophistication of the player-detectives in bringing the issues to light, but reiterates that it found no criminal involvement on the part of the company itself.
"The first case involved Absolute Poker," the statement recalls. "After a thorough investigation carried out by the KGC and its agents, Gaming Associates, the KGC rendered its decision in this matter on January 11, 2008. This decision concluded that the cheating that took place was not initiated, nor did it benefit, Absolute Poker as a corporate entity, or its directors or principal ownership. The decision imposed a number of sanctions and conditions on Absolute Poker, including twenty-four specific directions for changes to its management and systems."
The KGC statement emphasises that it was provided evidence that all players affected by the cheating that took place were fully reimbursed for their losses. Thye company was also given a $500 000 fine (see previous InfoPowa report).
"Shortly after its decision was rendered in the Absolute Poker matter, the KGC first became aware of similar allegations of cheating involving individuals within Absolute Poker's sister company: Ultimate Bet," the statement continues.
"Over the past several months, the KGC has been closely involved in an in-depth investigation of the Ultimate Bet cheating allegations. Significant efforts have been expended to identify and correct the flaws in Ultimate Bet's system that permitted the cheating to take place; to identify the individuals that were responsible for the cheating and to ensure that all affected players were fully reimbursed."
The statement then makes a startling admission that: "Unfortunately, the KGC's actions were not well communicated to the poker industry or public at large, creating an incorrect perception that the KGC was ‘doing nothing'.
"The KGC's investigation into the Ultimate Bet matter has yielded a number of key findings which, within the next several days, will enable the KGC to issue its decision on the appropriate steps to be taken."
The statement, which is signed off by Senior KGC adviser Murray Marshall, stresses that the Commission's primary concern throughout both matters has been to ensure that affected players were fully reimbursed and that corrective measures were taken to prevent further cheating.
Meanwhile, the investigation at continues, with a rolling progress report that summarises the history of the cheating incidents at UltimateBet and Absolute…and showcases the considerable investigatory and analytical skills deployed by a dedicated and voluntary team of poker players determined to unearth every facet of the incidents and those responsible.
Interestingly, the report refers to a hitherto little known legal confrontation between one of the player-investigators and Joe Norton, the former Kahnawake chief who owns Tokwiro Enterprises. Apparently Norton objected to certain statements made by the investigator, who uses the ‘handle' Cornell Fiji, and a legal demand for a retraction was sent by Norton's lawyers.
The retraction was forthcoming but in it Cornell Fiji lists voluminous references to allegations of general questionable conduct by the Mohawks, which was probably not an entirely satisfactory or desirable result for the plaintiff.