Poker industry veterans Rob Yong and John Duthie launched a new anti-cheating initiative called Fairplay about a week ago, but that site is now down following its possible misuse of a major regulatory body’s logo. The site now just has the old “Coming Soon” message at the top of its homepage.

Online and Live Poker “Black Book”

The idea behind Fairplay is admirable, if also ambitious and potentially full of landmines. Yong, partypoker’s managing director, and Duthie, president of partypoker LIVE!, teamed up to try to create central database of poker cheaters. Fairplay is intended to be an independent, non-profit organization; partypoker, bwinpoker (owned by GVC Holdings, partypoker’s parent company), and the Dusk Till Dawn poker club (owned by Yong) are the initial operators on board, but Yong and Duthie want as many online and live poker operators as possible to join forces.

Two weeks ago, John Duthie tweeted, “This is a great initiative and I will be reaching out to all major poker industry professionals over the coming week to invite them to join this non-profit collective with an aim to join forces in combating cheating in all its guises. You cheat anywhere, you can’t play anywhere.”

Logo Misuse

Fairplay ran into a stumbling block over the weekend, though, when respected industry vet Michael Josem wrote a piece on his blog, pointing out that Fairplay was using the United Kingdom Gambling Commission’s logo apparently without the UKGC’s consent.

Josem quoted the Commission as saying that they “do not regulate nor endorse this particular website” and that “we have no link to this website in any way.”

Neither Yong nor Duthie had much of a comment for Josem when asked about the issue, nor have they addressed it on Twitter. Duthie simply told Josem that “the site is in development” (we know this) and that he and Yong “will be consulting with Gambling Commission.”

Naturally, having an official association with the UKGC would go a long way toward making Fairplay recognized as a legitimate industry resource. If there is no official association, however, using the Commission’s logo to make it look like there is one is not kosher.

Josem likens the logo use as “stolen valor” and the online poker industry has certainly had problems in the past with shady operators slapping logos on their sites to make themselves look on the up-and-up, but one would think that industry mainstays such as Yong and Duthie (Duthie also founded the European Poker Tour) did not do this intentionally. We don’t know either way, but for now, this writer would tend to give them the benefit of the doubt and wait for further communication.

When and if it eventually does re-launch, Fairplay will have an uphill battle. While most poker players are in favor of some sort of anti-cheating organization, there is major concern about operators sharing customers’ personal information a third-party site, even if that information is about cheaters. And then there are the inevitable situations in which someone is labeled as a cheat by a poker room when they did nothing wrong.

If the industry’s operators can come together and put together strong, fair processes, Fairplay could end up being a great thing for poker. Seems they have some issues to iron out with the UKGC first, though.

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