Last week’s big news in poker circles was the lawsuit filed by professional poker player Gordon Vayo against PokerStars in U.S. District Court. We covered it, every poker media outlet covered it (mainstream news site, Forbes, covered it before everyone), and the poker internet message forums are talking about it. On Monday morning, The Stars Group provided a statement to Poker News Daily and other media outlets about the matter.
The brief on the record statement is as follows:
We cannot comment on pending litigation matters and our investigation into this particular matter is ongoing. However, as operator of the most regulated poker site in the world we believe that we have a duty to protect the integrity of the game and ensure we provide a safe and fair poker platform by enforcing our terms of service. We have paid out over half a billion dollars in tournaments winnings this year alone and will continue to implement rigorous security procedures to protect our players.
Vayo’s case revolves around the $692,460 he won for claiming the top spot in the first event of the 2017 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). Vayo, an American, has residences in Canada and Mexico, and says he played in the SCOOP event from his place in Montreal (people located in the U.S. are not permitted to play on PokerStars.com). He says that when he attempted to cash out, PokerStars did not allow him to do so, claiming that he had been playing from the United States.
In the lawsuit, Vayo and his legal team said that they provided more than enough evidence to PokerStars that he was in Montreal during the tournament:
… Mr. Vayo had submitted uncontroverted evidence – which Defendant [PokerStars] did not contest – that he was in fact in Canada on the first two days of the SCOOP tournament, on May 20 and 21, and it would have been virtually impossible (not to mention inexplicable) for him to travel to the U.S. in the middle of an active, intensive, major tournament that required nearly around-the-clock play and focus, leaving time for only brief periods of rest and nourishment.
Though it appears that PokerStars agreed Vayo was in Canada during the first two days of the tournament, the world’s largest online poker site said “….that Mr. Vayo’s documentation of his whereabouts was insufficient because he had not proven that it was ‘inconceivable’ that he had “travelled to the US and was present in the US on May 22” when he won the SCOOP tournament.”
The complaint explains, in some gory detail, that PokerStars showed Vayo evidence that he played 56,000 tournament hands between March and July 2017, including some in the SCOOP tournament, from the U.S. Vayo’s team says he only played 8,800 total during that time, so that information couldn’t be correct. PokerStars also showed evidence of 54 alleged connections from the U.S., none of which, says his counsel, were during the tourney.
Interestingly, Vayo and his team admit that he uses a VPN sometimes, a software program which for the purposes of online poker, disguises one’s location. The complaint says that within two hours of when PokerStars informed Vayo of his suspected U.S. connections, the site was told of a VPN malfunction that he had been experiencing. This could certainly raise some eyebrows. The complaint goes on to state that many of the alleged connections from the U.S. were made the same day that there is evidence of logins from Canada, something that Vayo and his counsel believe supports their claim that PokerStars has bad information.
Later in the complaint, Vayo goes hard after PokerStars, saying that the site readily allows people to play from the United States, only objecting when someone tries to cash out a large sum of money.
“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,” the complaint states.