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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Kahnawake Gaming Commission Releases Audit Report & Absolute Poker Comments

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After months of allegations and investigations, it seems that the Absolute Poker cheating scandal has reached a conclusion.

While Absolute Poker itself has been relatively silent since its denial of improprieties in October, with the exception of anonymous sources speaking with media outlets like the New York Times and MSNBC, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) has been more forthright with the poker community. Even so, some members of the poker media have been anxiously awaiting the results of the audit and any resolution that would not allow the scandal to slip from sight unnoticed.

The scandal first became public in September of 2007 when a group of online poker players accused another player of cheating in an Absolute Poker online tournament. By the insistence of the online community, the issue was finally addressed, though quickly dismissed by Absolute Poker itself. It wasn’t until the KGC, the issuer and holder of Absolute Poker’s gaming license, stepped in that the public received acknowledgment that cheating had taken place at the hands of a high-ranking employee of Absolute Poker and a formal third-party audit would take place.

Gaming Associates, an Australian-based firm, conducted the audit and provided a substantial, lengthy report to the KGC in December. According to Chuck Barnett of Mohawk Internet Technologies, the company which hosts the servers of many online gaming sites including Absolute Poker, the KGC was examining the report with the utmost seriousness and preparing to release its findings. It did so yesterday.

The four-page PDF document can be viewed in full at the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s website, but the primary points are outlined here.

Findings:

1. Beginning on August 14, 2007 and continuing for about six weeks, several accounts were used to view the hole cards of other players, resulting in unfair play. Those accounts were GRAYCAT, PAYUP, STEAMROLLER, POTRIPPER, DOUBLEDRAG, XXCASHMONEYXX a/k/a SUPERCARDM55, and RONFALDOXXB a/k/a ROMNALDO. The person(s) responsible for using the accounts were identified and removed from playing any role in Absolute Poker’s management or operations.

2. The KGC’s investigation was hampered by someone associated with Absolute Poker deleting some gaming logs and records, though the KGC was still able to obtain sufficient information.

3. No evidence suggests that Absolute Poker – as a corporate entity – initiated or sanctioned the activities related to the cheating, referred to in the document as the impugned activities.

4. The principles of Absolute Poker failed to contact the KGC within 24 hours of becoming aware of the impugned activities.

5. Absolute Poker quickly moved to reimburse all players, who had been cheated, and interest was added to the reimbursed monies. However, if any player feels that they have not been reimbursed or acknowledged, they still have 60 days to contact the KGC and submit their complaint for consideration.

6. Absolute Poker took appropriate actions to address the vulnerability in their security systems and prevent any future compromises.

Sanctions:

1. The Client Provider Authorisation, which is the permit issued to online sites that acts as a license to operate, has been amended for Absolute Poker.

A. Absolute Poker will be subject to random audits of logs and records, conducted by the KGC, over the next two years, the costs of which will be paid by Absolute Poker.
B. Absolute Poker must implement a continuous compliance program as directed by the KGC.
C. Person(s) responsible for the impugned activities are to be permanently removed from any role at Absolute Poker, which the KGC has found to have been done.

2. Absolute Poker will pay a fine of $500,000.00, due within 60 days.

3. Absolute Poker will post a security deposit to be held by the KGC for two years to offset the cost associated with any future breaches of the Kahnawake Gaming Law, regulations, or any other conditions set forth by the KGC.

4. All of the costs associated with the investigation, including the audit by Gaming Associates, will be paid for by Absolute Poker, including any costs to be incurred as a result of the audit and decision.

The decision was signed by KGC Chairperson David Montour, and Commissioners Melanie Mayo and Kevin Kennedy on January 11.

Within hours of the release of the KGC’s decision, Absolute Poker released a statement from Anna Molley, Vice President of Public and Community Relations for Absolute Poker.

The statement acknowledges the “completeness and accuracy” of the KGC’s conclusions and accepts them. “Most importantly,” it states, “we are pleased, after these many months, that Absolute Poker can finally put behind it a most distressing and regrettable experience for the Company, its employees, and its customers.”

To prevent further system breaches, Absolute Poker claims to have appointed a team of internal and external members “to improve controls and install safeguards.” In addition, Absolute Poker intends to commence a series of “poker security summits” with members of the poker community to help improve the site’s security, with the first summit to take place on January 18, 2008.

The statement also notes, “The Company also regrets the inadvertent deletion of certain gaming logs and records during the course of the investigation…” The KGC report stated that this did not seriously impede the investigation; Absolute Poker reiterates this as if it somehow forgives or overlooks the company for its intent to impede the investigation.

The final paragraph reads in full: “As AP has repeatedly stated in the past, we regret the damage done to our players and to our own reputation by this incident. We acknowledge that the Company did not act with sufficient speed to uncover the fraud; however, once we were convinced of the veracity of the allegations, we moved quickly to inform the KGC and to reimburse affected players. While AP is paying a severe penalty for the fraud perpetrated upon the Company and its customers, we are gratified that we can now close the book on this sordid affair and return our full focus to providing the safest, most secure, and most enjoyable [sic] poker playing experience in the industry.”

While this provides an official resolution to the Absolute Poker cheating scandal that consumed many in the poker community for the latter months of 2007, numerous questions remain unanswered.

Were Scott Tom and A.J. Green the high-ranking employees at Absolute Poker who cheated players on the site for six weeks?

Will Scott Tom, A.J. Green, or any other involved parties be prosecuted in a court of law or sued for damages?

How did the Absolute Poker support team representative, who sent the whistle blowing hand history to Marco Johnson, gain access to such information as player IP addresses and hole cards?

What exactly is being done to improve Absolute Poker’s security system?

Did Mark Seif, the Absolute Poker-sponsored pro player, have any role in the scandal whatsoever? And if not, why did Absolute Poker never come to his defense?

Will Mark Seif continue to represent Absolute Poker?

Have steps been taken to ensure that gaming records will be kept for the required five years?

Time will tell if Absolute Poker can use any public relations skills in its repertoire to overcome the damage that the scandal has done to its reputation, or if the company will fulfill its obligations to the KGC to prevent its license from being revoked in the future.

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