Poker Hall of Famer Chris Moneymaker is suing ubiquitous payment processing giant PayPal. In a press release issued late last week, Moneymaker’s attorney, Eric Bensamochan, said that they will be suing PayPal for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and bad faith, “among other causes of action,” for confiscating more than $12,000 from the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion’s account.
According to Moneymaker, the issue stems from a fantasy football league in which he and 11 friends participated last year. Each player sent Moneymaker their $1,000 entry fee via PayPal for safe keeping. He kept the $12,000 in his account, ready to pay it out to the winner(s) at the end of the season.
This method of “escrowing” is very common in the poker world, often seen when players engage in prop bets, though in that case, it is usually a trusted third party that holds onto the money until the bet is over. In this case, Chris Moneymaker effectively acted as a treasurer for the fantasy football league, an easier way to organize prize distribution than trying to coordinate with all 12 players later on. I remember in my first fantasy baseball league in the early 1990’s (it was called “rotisserie” league baseball back then), we all mailed cash to the person running the league and then he mail the prizes at the end of the season. Same thing, just physical, slower, and more difficult to track than using today’s electronic payments.
“In November 2020,” Bensamochan said, “PayPal emailed Moneymaker that his account had been ‘limited’ due to a violation of its User Agreement – a 62-page document that refers to a separate Acceptable Use Policy.”
Two weeks ago, Moneymaker tweeted that PayPal froze his funds last fall, but at the very least told him that he could access them within 180 days. Apparently, that wasn’t the case, as he posted a screenshot of his account, showing a $12,228.55 transfer to PayPal. The company had confiscated his money.
A more reasonable action, Moneymaker believes, would have been for PayPal to have simply reversed the payments from the fantasy football participants, sending them their money back. It wouldn’t have been as helpful as just leaving things be, but at least it would have been a “no harm, no foul” situation.
“Somebody has to stand up to these guys,” Moneymaker said. “I’m going to continue to use my status and my social media channels to expose these immoral and illegal practices and ask others to join my lawsuit against PayPal.”