Monday, October 25, 2010

Blanca Games Responds to New Online Poker Cheating Scandal

"In September, a letter from XMT Liquidations to the shareholders of what was formerly known as Excapsa Software identified a new cheating incident on the former Ultimate Bet site. Recently, Blanca Games, the current owners of and Absolute Poker, addressed the findings and the dispute between Tokwiro Enterprises and Excapsa.

The letter, dated September 10th, references an “an unfair and unlawful advantage in online poker games in 2004 and 2005.” However, the incident was not outlined. Blanca Games shed some light on the issue last week, explaining, “The Liquidator has recently advised Blanca’s employees that the security breach at issue was closed by Excapsa in early 2005. Blanca has no knowledge of whether or not this incident is, in fact, ‘newly discovered.’ It does, however, understand that two player accounts were involved in this 2004 incident, and that the damages sustained by players were less than $100,000.” The incident was then reported to the “appropriate regulatory authorities.”

Blanca Games clarified, however, that the liquidators in question were not acting on Absolute Poker or, which together make up the USA-friendly CEREUS Network. Additionally, the press release from Blanca asserted, “The operations of the and sites, now under the management of Blanca, are entirely unaffected by the events referred to by the Liquidator… In short, the 2004 incident has no impact whatsoever on current players and customers of or Blanca will continue to do everything in its power to protect its players and customers by providing the highest levels of security on its sites.”

The cheating scandals on Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker were profiled in a “60 Minutes” piece in November 2008. Two months ago, Blanca Games acquired the CEREUS Network from Tokwiro Enterprises. Blanca Games is based in Antigua and has headquarters in Costa Rica, where and Absolute Poker are both located. Stuart Gordon serves as the company’s CEO.

Blast Off was comprised of the assets of Ultimate Bet before it was sold to Tokwiro Enterprises and the liquidation at hand saw one of its major creditors elect “to exercise its rights in respect of the collateral it held as security for Blast Off’s debt.” This “major creditor” may refer to the former owners of the Absolute Poker domain, although the event was not addressed in Blanca Games’ letter.

The liquidation letter added, “Blast Off intended to [end] any and all operations related to assets over which Excapsa has been granted a security interest.” This could potentially refer to, which was not included in the transfer to Blanca Games. Instead, only and became part of the new company. Now, forwards to an online poker affiliate site and is not associated with

Blanca noted that the company has “no interest in that dispute” between XMT Liquidations and Tokwiro Enterprises.

In response to the press release from Blanca Games, one poster on TwoPlusTwo noted, “Further evidence as to why this industry needs to be regulated and have oversight.” The Kahnawake Gaming Commission cited Russ Hamilton as the main person responsible for the cheating scandal that erupted on Ultimate Bet. The former World Series of Poker Main Event champion is still roaming free in Las Vegas much to the dismay of many and over $20 million was stolen from players.

In a blog posted from August, pro Joe Sebok lamented the lack of persecution in the cheating scandal: “I wish we were a police force, but we are not. I wish we could really round up all of these people and interrogate them, but we can’t… I also wish we were a court and we could try them all and jail the convicted, but again, we cannot do this. The poker community would be a better place if we could, but as of right now this just isn’t possible.”

In February 2009, Raw Vegas caught up with Hamilton in the parking lot of a Las Vegas golf course. Poker pro Layne Flack and two other unidentified people were with Hamilton at the time. Hamilton refused comment and drove away."