Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tokwiro COO Leggett Issues Memo To UltimateBet Employees About "60 Minutes" Cheat Segment!

As previously reported, the story by CBS News program “60 Minutes” about the online poker cheating scandals at Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker will air this Sunday, November 30th. In a blog posted by Nat Arem, who has been close to the investigation, it was revealed that Tokwiro COO Paul Leggett issued a memo to Ultimate Bet employees about the program airing. The memo was forwarded to Arem by an employee at the company.

Although many in the industry do not know what to expect when the segment airs at 7:00pm ET on Sunday night, Leggett does not anticipate a ringing endorsement of Tokwiro-owned rooms Absolute Poker or Ultimate Bet, or the industry in general. He commented, “We have every reason to believe that the 60 Minutes producers are intent on portraying the online poker industry and our companies in a negative light, and we do not expect that the program will be either fair or balanced.”

Tokwiro received a $15 million settlement from former UB owners Excapsa to compensate players who were wronged by the cheating on Ultimate Bet, which was directed by former affiliate program manager and 1994 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Russ Hamilton. The player bases of AP and UB were merged this week to form the CEREUS poker network.

Leggett revealed that Tokwiro officials did not appear on camera, but rather provided the producers of the show with relevant background information and “answered questions on-the-record, but off-camera.” The memo stated that Joseph Tokwiro Norton is the sole owner of Tokwiro. In addition, it noted that the investigation into the cheating scandal at Ultimate Bet by its licensing body, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), revealed “that Tokwiro, as a corporate entity, was not involved in and did not benefit from the cheating.”

On who was behind the scandal on Absolute Poker, Leggett revealed, “Tokwiro agreed not to prosecute the perpetrator in the Absolute Poker cheating, and to protect that individual’s identity, because this was the only way to ensure that the ability to cheat was fully discovered and disabled. Because of this decision, AP could continue operating and begin to reimburse affected players as quickly as possible.”

Leggett added that Hamilton was not an employee of Tokwiro and that the offenders in each of the two cheating incidents did not work together in any way. Despite the fact that both groups were able to see the hole cards of customers who played online, each used a different tool in order to do so. The story that appears on CBS’ website entitled “How Online Gamblers Unmasked Cheaters” explains that the cheating resulted in over $20 million being taken from customers. According to the memo, all affected customers have been reimbursed accordingly. The $15 million that Tokwiro received from Excapsa was used for this purpose.

The memo concludes with a look at the changes at Tokwiro as a result of the two high-profile incidents. The company’s management team was revamped and three new security-related personnel were brought onboard. A new “Security Center” was developed to track abnormalities on the CEREUS network, which was launched on Tuesday morning, the same day as the world found out that the 60 Minutes story would air this week. The additions of a “Whistleblower Policy” and “Poker Security Department” were also highlighted.

A Code of Ethics was instituted at the parent company of Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, which “formally prohibits any employee or contractor for any Tokwiro business from playing for money on any Tokwiro site.” Account name changes are also generally not allowed. Finally, Tokwiro “discontinued the policy of ‘greenlighting’ VIP Pro players at cashout.”