Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tokwiro Wins $15 Million Judgment Against Excapsa For Damages In UltimateBet Poker Cheat Scandal!

In the latest twist in the reimbursement of players at Ultimate Bet, a subsidiary of the parent company (Tokwiro) of the online poker room has won a $15 million judgment against Excapsa, a software manufacturer and former owner of the site. The money will now be used by Tokwiro to refund players who were affected by the cheating scandal that rocked the site.

Justice Sarah E. Pepall of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Canada) handed down the ruling on Monday. Paul Leggett, the CEO of Tokwiro, commented in a press release distributed by the company on Wednesday, “We are pleased that we have finally agreed to a settlement with the previous owners of Ultimate Bet, and we are happy to announce the completion of the final refunds to players.” The cheating scandal was found to have been commanded by World Series of Poker bracelet holder Russ Hamilton, who was also involved with Ultimate Bet’s affiliate program. In July, one of the questionable accounts was positively linked to a home owned by Hamilton in Las Vegas. The cheating began in May of 2004 and occurred for nearly four years.

To put to bed any allegations that Tokwiro was responsible for the scandal, Leggett added, “Now that the main perpetrator has been named, the settlement with the previous owners is behind us, and players have received refunds, it should now be apparent that Tokwiro had no involvement in this cheating and that we have fought to correct it with every tool at our disposal.” The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), which is the regulatory body that oversees Ultimate Bet as well as a handful of other popular online poker rooms, hit the company with a $1.5 million fine.

The KGC issued a press release of its own following Monday’s judgment, claiming that Ultimate Bet will shell out around $21 million in refunds to players, consisting of $15 million from the judgment and $6.1 million in reimbursements that have already processed. The KGC originally gave Ultimate Bet until November 3rd to comply, but because of ongoing litigation with Excapsa, the organization will allow its licensee extra time to comply with its mandates. The KGC’s press release states that its “final decision in this matter is expected to be issued once all player refunds have been confirmed.”

Although its litigation against Excapsa is now finished, Leggett implied that additional legal action may be forthcoming: “We continue to reserve the right to pursue further legal action against any individual or individuals involved in stealing from us or our customers.” The wrongdoings at Ultimate Bet and its sister site, Absolute Poker, may among other recent developments be the subject of a feature by CBS news program “60 Minutes.” An air date has not yet been announced. Its show lineups are typically released every Thursday and available on the “60 Minutes” website. Each episode usually consists of three features.

Blast-Off Ltd. was the actual beneficiary of the $15 million in damages. It is owned by Tokwiro and “originally acquired Ultimate Bet” from Exapsa, according to Tokwiro’s press release. In September, MSNBC printed a story stating that a $75 million claim had been filed by Blast-Off.

Meanwhile, the online poker room is gearing up for its third Ultimate Bet Online Championship (UBOC), which kicks off on January 9th and concludes with a $1,050 buy-in $1 Million Guaranteed Main Event nine days later. In the middle of the schedule is a $5,200 buy-in Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em Championship that boasts a $1 million guaranteed prize pool. There are 12 events in total in Hold’em, HORSE, and Omaha. Deep-stack, Sniper, short-handed, and heads-up tournaments will be featured. In 2007, Ultimate Bet members Maria Nuccia and Fred420 each took home $168,450 from the UBOC Main Event.