Gordon Vayo will have to wait a bit longer to see if his legal action against PokerStars can proceed. In May, the poker pro and 2016 WSOP Main Event runner-up filed suit against PokerStars, or more specifically, Rational Entertainment Enterprises Limited (REEL), in the U.S. District Court Central District of California Western Division after the world’s largest online poker site refused to pay him $692,460 in winnings from the 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). PokerStars filed a motion for the case to be dismissed and though a hearing was scheduled for two weeks from today, September 25th, Judge Frederick Munn has pushed it to November 6th.
PokerStars said that it withheld Vayo’s funds because it had evidence that he played in SCOOP from California, using a virtual private network (VPN) to make it look like he was in Canada. PokerStars does not permit play from the U.S. (except in New Jersey) and does accept customers from Canada.
Vayo and his attorneys say it is all bullshit and that he provided plenty of evidence that he was in Canada while he was playing in the tournament. PokerStars admits that he did give them evidence, but that it was not enough and it was still possible for Vayo to have travelled to California to play in the end of the SCOOP tourney.
Vayo Spits Hot Fire
Vayo, in turn, claims that PokerStars has a history of defrauding customers, saying that for years, it did not bother to check or enforce its location rules, knowing that people were playing from the United States. It wasn’t until players made large scores and tried to cashout, Vayo says, that PokerStars jumped into action and denied the withdrawals:
Defendant then allowed and encouraged Plaintiff and other users to play on the PokerStars.com site for months and years, while they placed their money at risk on the site in what they believed to be games in which they had a fair opportunity to either win or lose their money based on their play. During this time Defendant turned a blind eye and was indifferent to the location from which users of the PokerStars.com site were playing and accessing the site. Only after a user won a significant amount of money on the PokerStars.com site, would Defendant conduct an investigation into the location of the user’s play and access of the site. In this way Defendant was able to take the money of Plaintiff and other users of the PokerStars.com site with impunity, while depriving the same users of their largest wins if and when such wins occurred.
PokerStars wants the case dismissed because the company is headquartered and licensed in the Isle of Man and therefore California would not be the appropriate venue for such a lawsuit. It also says that it would be too costly for it to engage in a legal battle in California.
For his part, Vayo also feels that it would be too expensive for him to have to shift venues to the Isle of Man. He also stated in a court filing that he would be at a serious disadvantage, as he doesn’t think he could find “competent counsel” in the small island country and that the deck would be stacked against him (you like my word play?) because “the gaming industry appears to be a very large part of the local economy.”
Lead photo credit: World Poker Tour