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Poker News | World Poker News

Interview: Paul Leggett, COO of Tokwiro Enterprises, Part 3

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To conclude the interview, Mr. Leggett was asked to explain the current and future security measures put into place to make Absolute Poker and UltimateBet safe for their customers. He was also granted some time to speak freely to the public as to confidence in the online gaming sites, regulation, and the future of the companies.

Due to the length of the interview and the desire to print Mr. Leggett’s answers in their totality, this was a three-part series of articles.

I do want to ask a few questions about safety and security on UB going forward. What has been done to close the security gap that allowed the cheating to occur?

Specifically relating to this incident and how the cheating occurred? Tokwiro had no idea that this code existed, but through this very complicated investigation, they eventually identified the code that allowed the perpetrator to view hole cards in real time. There was one account that the perpetrator was using to have this privileged access to see hole cards during live play, and they would log in and play with another account that would benefit from that information.

That specific code was removed when it was identified in very early February, I believe. It was immediately removed from production, but we then had the third party software company that maintained the software, which is a legacy from when we acquired it, and we immediately shut that down and along with Gaming Associates and the KGC, agreed the most important thing was to verify that code was out of production and get as much information about that code to help with the evidence of the investigation. Gaming Associates immediately verified that it was no longer in use and removed from the source code, then we went through and recreated what occurred through a test system. That code now doesn’t exist and never should have existed.

In addition to that, we’ve been doing many, many things to make sure the site is secure, starting from the audit with Absolute Poker and going into UltimateBet. We set up a new division in security, which is just for the poker room. That group of people is just dedicated to trying to detect things like collusion, abnormal winning statistics, multi-accounting, etc. We’ve hired a bunch of specialists to help us with that.

In the past, we focused a little too much on financial security and not enough on gaming security, so we also built applications, a new security center that is able to detect abnormal winning statistics instantly. Basically, with the involvement of the poker community like Nat Arem, gaming mathematicians, and security experts, we used that independent advice to build software that detects those abnormal winning statistics. So, anybody on our site that might win too much is going to go through a security investigation, even if they just got lucky and hit a pair of fours and got trips on the flop, they’re going to get investigated if they won a lot of money in that hand. Ultimately, we thought security was the most important thing to do, but there are a ton of other things we’ve done.

The company was kind of an entrepreneurial company, and the companies acquired by Tokwiro were run were entrepreneurial, and now we’ve been rebuilding since the scandals to make sure our company is focused on process, internal audits, and security. That’s what we care about. We’ve hired compliance officers, security managers, product managers, security and software developers, people automating all of our security… We’ve also added software so that hole cards cannot be accessed during real time, and we have security over our software so in case there is a hacker, we will catch it no matter what. Our whole methodology is that we need more and more layers of security.

Really, what’s happened is that the company has completely changed focus, and security is of paramount importance to us. As horrible as this situation is, I really believe that the company is better for it, and online poker in the long run will be better for it. This will be a lesson for how to regulate poker, and players will be safer from here on out.

Are these same procedures implemented at UB being implemented at Absolute Poker?

Yes, they have been implemented at Absolute Poker.

Are all of these security measures going to be incorporated into the CEREUS network?

Absolutely, they’re already a part of it. There are more advanced features in CEREUS than we have currently, so we’re moving aggressively towards getting that into production. We seriously invested in the new poker platform because of this situation. It’s not a response to the scandal, but it’s something we discussed since acquiring these two businesses. But we increased the investment to move in this direction because we want to have one system to regulate, one system to build security systems for, and the cost of having two software platforms and two development shops and two sets of infrastructure to host them was very costly. By making this cost savings, we can invest it all in building additional security features and improve customer service and other features for our customers.

Do you take any position on the legalization and potential regulation of online poker in the United States, as it pertains to avoiding future situations like this?

I don’t think regulation in the United States is the answer to preventing this. I definitely see some advantages that would help prevent something like this, but if you look at industries like investment banking and the recent $4 billion scandal, that is an old industry that has been regulated for a long time and these things do happen – internal employees taking advantage of their privileged access and getting around the checks and balances the company might have. They happen but they are lessons for how to improve and how to regulate.

Obviously, anyone that was involved in the wrongdoing at UB should be brought to justice, and in our current situation, jurisdictional issues are a bit of a problem, but I’m confident that we’ll get around them. Regulation in the United States would help protect players, but the KGC is a great regulator, and anyone that doesn’t think so, I wouldn’t wish one of their audits on anybody. It’s very cumbersome, very intrusive, and it slows down business but it’s very necessary and important. We’re going to be under audits and investigations for the next few years, and rightfully so to make sure that this business is secure and the players are secure. We welcome it with open arms and are 100% committed to it.

Lastly, is there anything you want to say to the public who are skeptical because of two consecutive scandals and the length of time it is taking to resolve everything? How can customers have confidence in AP or UB again?

There are many things that I’d like to say, but I’ll try to keep it short. I completely understand the public’s frustration, but it is very complex and not as simple as some people think it is. There is nothing more that I want than to satisfy the poker community with completing this investigation, refunds, and making sure there is enough information for the public about exactly what went on and who did what. We’re committed to doing everything we can to satisfy that and make it happen as quickly as possible.

One of the things that makes me feel really good about this whole situation and about people’s faith in our business is that I’ve been an open book. A lot of these people involved have my direct cell phone number and call me at all hours. Everybody has my cell number or has me on Messenger or Skype, and they have the ability to talk to me about all of this.

I’m also very happy that a lot of the players who were affected continue to play at UltimateBet, and to me, that’s the biggest sign of confidence in our company. A lot of these people know what we’re doing from a security aspect and how serious we are about investing in it, and a lot of them had input into the steps we’ve taken. We’re planning on showing a lot of it off in Aruba, and they all know that.

Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth continue their endorsement of the site, and everything they’ve said about how we’re trying to make this right has definitely helped. I think the new pros that we’ve signed have helped build confidence. These are all good signs about what kind of company we are. Even though we haven’t been able to release a lot of the details that the public wants, there’s enough of it out there that people understand that Tokwiro would never do anything wrong and that we’re committed to resolving this whole situation.

There are a lot of reasons why people should come and play at UltimateBet, but I do understand why certain people will choose never to spend their money on our site again. They want to use their consumer power to make us pay for what occurred on our site, and I totally understand that. I just hope that nobody believes or tries to tell people that anybody who plays on UltimateBet is endorsing cheating; that’s absolutely not the case.

It’s our job now to do everything we can to prove to the poker community and the world that we are open, we are transparent, we are secure, and as additional information comes out about this investigation as it wraps up, that people are more willing to listen to what we’re saying about security and transparency going forward.

Again, my sincerest thanks and compliments go to Mr. Leggett for his time, candor as it was allowed, and willingness to address all of my questions.

Part I

Part II

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