Posts Tagged ‘Fine’

888 Ordered to Pay Over $10 Million Fine for Technical Failure

 888 Ordered to Pay Over $10 Million Fine for Technical Failure

One of the biggest things mentioned about a regulated online gaming industry is that, if a business goes awry of the regulations, there are methods of punishment that can be administered. A case in the United Kingdom against one of the biggest online gaming and poker companies in the industry is a clear demonstration of this fact.

According to the BBC, 888 Holdings, the operators of the popular 888Poker, a very reputable sports book and online casino (among other things), has been ordered by the British Gambling Commission to pay a £7.8 million (slightly more than $ 10 million U. S. dollars) for not adhering to protect at-risk customers. According to the Gambling Commission, there were “significant flaws” in a technical segment of the 888 software that failed to reject about 7000 players who had “self-banned” themselves from being able to bet on the site.

Reuters went into further detail as to how the violations occurred. 888 operates two separate products, Reuters reports, one for casino gaming, poker and sports betting and another outlet for bingo. While players might have excluded themselves from going directly to the casino/poker/sports side of the operation, it was found that it could be circumvented by going through the bingo side of the 888 operations.

Once particular case highlighted by the British Gambling Commission demonstrates what they believe were the flaws in the 888 Holdings’ “social responsibility process,” as the BBC called it. A customer of 888 was able to wager £1.3 million over a 13-month period, including £55,000 that the customer had stolen from his employer. Online for three to four hours a day gambling, 888 allegedly failed to “(interact) with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling,” the British Gambling Commission reported. “(These actions) raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at risk of gambling harm.”

£3.5 million of the fine will be used to settle claims from the 7000 players who weren’t blocked from playing after they had requested to be put on the list. Another £4.25 million will be donated to gambling support organizations to “invest in measures to tackle gambling related harm.” Finally, £62,000 will go to the company who was the victim of the player who embezzled money from the company to gamble.

The fine by far exceeds the previous record for a fine from the Gambling Commission. Last year a bookmaker, Gala Coral, was ordered to pay a £880,000 fine after not inquiring into the activities of a customer of their service. In this instance, the gambler was stealing money (to the tune of £800,000) to fund his gambling endeavors. While they started a preliminary investigation, Gala Coral received uncorroborated evidence that the player was “independently wealthy” and halted the investigation.

2016 also saw another prominent player in the online gaming industry take a hit. Paddy Power was ordered to pay £280,000 after they were accused of “encouraging” a problem gambler to continue wagering (the Gambling Commission does not explain how they “encouraged” the gambler). That person allegedly lost five jobs, his home and visitation and access of his children over the situation.

The seriousness of the fine is but another assertion that the British Gambling Commission, under the auspices of Sarah Harrison, the Chief Executive of the organization, that violations of the regulations in the United Kingdom will be dealt with severely. Before the 888 case, the Commission had stated that “the gambling industry should be on notice that the issues identified in this statement are likely to form the basis for future commission compliance activities.”

The fine is a substantial one for 888 Holdings. It represents 17% of the pre-tax profits from 2016 for 888, but it didn’t seem to have an impact on its current business operations. On the London Stock Exchange, 888 Holdings finished the day at 264.25p, a.48% uptick from the previous day’s trading prior to the fine announcement.

The post 888 Ordered to Pay Over $ 10 Million Fine for Technical Failure appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. Settles Corrupt Practices Probe, Pays Fine

 Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. Settles Corrupt Practices Probe, Pays Fine

The Las Vegas Sands Corp., headed by online poker’s top enemy, Sheldon Adelson, has agreed to pay a $ 6.96 million criminal penalty to settle a federal case in which the government was investigating the company’s potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The issue at hand stems back nearly seven years to 2010, when Steven Jacobs, who headed up Las Vegas Sands’ business in China for nine months, sued the company for unlawful termination. As Bloomberg.com worded it, Jacobs “accused Adelson of directing him to collect evidence on Macau government officials that could be used to ‘exert leverage’ on them to thwart regulation unfavorable to Sands casinos.”

The FCPA, rightfully, says it is illegal for companies and their executives to try to bribe foreign government officials. The one caveat here is that I believe Donald Trump is permitted to do this, especially now that he is President. Well, he doesn’t have anything to do with his businesses anymore, so it probably doesn’t matter. I mean, he told us he’s not going to be involved with his businesses, so I TOTALLY believe him. Not for a moment do I think Donald Trump has ever or will ever do anything shady with governments of other countries.

Jacobs claimed he tried to stop the illegal business practices and for that reason, he was canned.

A press release from the U.S. Department of Justice reads, in part:

According to admissions by Sands made in connection with the resolution, certain Sands executives knowingly and willfully failed to implement a system of internal accounting controls to adequately ensure the legitimacy of payments to a business consultant who assisted Sands in promoting its brand in Macao and the PRC, and to prevent the false recording of those payments in its books and records.  Sands continued to make payments to the consultant despite warnings from its finance staff and an outside auditor that the business consultant had failed to account for portions of these funds.  In addition, Sands terminated the finance department employee who raised concerns about the payments.  

In total, from 2006 through 2009, Sands paid approximately $ 5.8 million to the business consultant without any discernable legitimate business purpose, it admitted.  

Among those consultant payments was $ 60 million to help the company acquire a Chinese basketball team.

As part of the settlement, Las Vegas Sands admitted no guilt and was not charged with a crime. It sounds lame, but that’s how these things go.

In 2016, Las Vegas Sands reached a similar settlement on the same matter with the Securities and Exchange Commission, paying a $ 9 million fine. After scapegoating people like Jacobs and then getting found out by the U.S. government, the company tried to claim it was just ignorant, just a blind little sheep wandering into the woods (I don’t know what I just wrote).

“We were moving into unexplored territory and we wanted to do some unique things that were structured by attorneys and accountants in New York, Hong Kong and Beijing,” Sands Chief Operating Officer William Weidner said at the time. “I don’t know that you can blame the lawyers who structured the deals.”

“But I think that the fact that I wasn’t disciplined in this matter shows that we were operating in areas that hadn’t been considered by regulators.”

Yeah, ok.

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Hialeah Park to Pay Large Fine in 2015 Tournament Fiasco, Real Perpetrators Get Away

 Hialeah Park to Pay Large Fine in 2015 Tournament Fiasco, Real Perpetrators Get Away

Wrapping up a fiasco that dates back to last summer, Florida gaming officials are expected to hand down a massive fine against one of the state’s most popular poker rooms. The fine is the result of a tournament that still has several question marks as to the integrity of the event and the racetrack where the poker room is located is not answering any further questions on the subject.

The situation dates back to the last week of August 2015, when the Hialeah Park Poker Room was allegedly holding a poker tournament to celebrate its second year of existence. The tournament, a $ 250 buy in event with a $ 200,000 guaranteed prize pool and a first place guarantee of $ 60,000, drew in competition from other poker rooms across Southeast Florida as players were drawn to the sizeable prize pool. According to Florida gaming journalist Nick Sortal, one of the players in that event was T. J. Shulman, whose Hendon Mob resume lists nearly $ 500,000 in tournament poker winnings over the last ten years. While the “regulars” in the Hialeah Park room saw the big money Shulman, who was used to tournaments like the one being run at the Hialeah Park Poker Room, was more interested in watching the operators of the tournament.

As the tournament proceeded through Shulman’s Day One (one of five that were operated in the tournament), Shulman noticed oddities that he hadn’t seen in other events. Players would be speaking with the floor staff and management, then seat themselves without explanation (Shulman said another player relayed to him, “They were talking in Spanish and the guy understood another player saying he was getting 20% of the winnings and giving the staff 80%”). Other personnel would handle money at the sign-up desk rather than the appropriate cage locations. What got Shulman, though, were the numbers. “I told a Hialeah supervisor, ‘You’re missing $ 48,000 from the prize pool,’” Shulman stated to Sortal. “The supervisor told me, ‘If you don’t like the way we’re playing here, go back to the Hard Rock (the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood).’”

This lines up with reports from other players who participated in the event. There was an attempt by the staff to “clear up” the issue but, instead of clearing things up, they instead clouded the waters even further. Additionally, once the tournament was completed there was no listing of winner of the tournament or the final table finishers, nor were there any listings offered for players who cashed in the estimated 1000 entry field.

Not surprisingly, the players rebelled against the Hialeah Park Poker Room. In September, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (the regulatory body overseeing poker rooms in Florida) opened up an investigation. After a nearly three-month investigation, the state investigators issued their report on December 29, listing a litany of offenses regarding not only the tournament but also other actions around the poker room itself, including lack of video surveillance, no receipts for cash in or out of the cages, improper handling of money, even supervisors pocketing cash. “(The investigation) confirmed what the players suspected,” Sortal wrote, “Hialeah’s poker managers ran a dirty tournament.”

By the time this report from state officials came down in December, however, the culprits had already left town. The manager of the poker room at that time, Nelson Costa (who was also alleged to have run a poker dealer school that provided dealers to the Hialeah Park room; he would then take a cut of the dealer “tokes” in some arrangement with the dealers), resigned his position in October and three other assistants were fired following the conclusion of the tournament in question. The Hialeah Park Casino’s Director of Compliance, Angel Garcia, is working as the poker manager in addition to his other duties and the casino has brought in other personnel from as far away as Atlantic City to operate the poker room properly.

Hialeah Park isn’t talking anymore about the situation. The organization had until January 18 to respond to the state’s report and apparently didn’t disagree with any of the findings. As such, Sortal expects that the Hialeah Park Poker Room will receive a six-figure fine over the poker tournament but no one will face any criminal charges in the case. Sortal also indicates that, when he was asked about the situation, Hialeah Park President John Brunetti “declined to comment.”

Although Hialeah Park officials should be held for more responsibility in the case (hopefully that six-figure fine is a BIG six-figures), the real culprits – Costa and his assistants – are the ones that state officials should be on the lookout for. In fact, any state that has gaming should have their information on file as persona non grata for employment in the gaming industry for the actions taken in the Florida event. If such situations aren’t punished thoroughly, then people will believe they can get away with ripping the customers – in this case, poker players – off, something that should never happen in a casino setting.

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