Anti-Fraud Site

Fairplay Anti-Fraud Site Taken Offline After Possible Development Misstep

The online presence of the anti-cheating cooperative Fairplay has been stripped down to a generic landing page after questions arose regarding the nascent site’s use of logos belonging to jurisdictional organizations, such as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, which likely have no formal relationship to date with the newly-formed anti-fraud online poker project.

The site’s prior content, which Flushdraw reported on a week ago, was removed immediately following a scathing blog post by Michael Josem that pointed out the likely illicit use of the Gambling Commission’s logo on the barely-launched Fairplay site. The usage was framed as “alleged misappropriation” by Josem, a well-known industry figure who spent years working for PokerStars, an often fierce rival of PartyPoker, where Fairplay founders Rob Yong and John Duthie serve as high-ranking executives.

“In an explosive revelation,” Josem wrote, “a representative from the UK Gambling Commission said yesterday that they ‘do not regulate nor endorse this particular website.’

“The UK Gambling Commission went on to disavow any association, saying ‘we have no link to this website in any way.'”

Later in the post, Josem wrote, “It appears that the so-called ‘FairPlay’ Initiative is trying to associate itself with the reputation of the British regulator, despite no approval from the Gambling Commission. This is akin to how fake soldiers steal the medals of military heroes. This ‘stolen valour’ can often go undetected without proper scrutiny.”

This is all technically true, and such “stolen marks” have often been an issue within the online-gambling world. It’s most often seen with shoddy sites run out of garbage jurisdictions such as Curacao, where the stolen marks are quite blatantly misappropriated with the intent of fooling online gamblers that the banana-republic sites are legit and reputable.

That does not seem to be the case here, even though Yong did not respond to a request to contact. Instead, the likeliest explanation is that this was the result of a significant miscommunication between the bosses such as Yong and Duthie and the web developer(s) charged with putting the site together. Though the site’s presence was amplified a week ago on Twitter by Duthie, it now seems likely that the site was never meant to be public last week at all. Here’s how the home page appeared before being taken offline:

Most of those logos at the bottom shouldn’t have been there, and I missed those details in last week’s first Fairplay feature.

That in turn leads to how the gaffes involving the logos and several anti-gambling groups came to be present, all likely without their knowledge or permission. The likeliest scenario is that Fairplay hopes to have such entities as the UKGC on board as industry partners, and the web developer was given marching orders to create a space on the site’s web pages for the logos of these groups. The problem was likely setting the Fairplay site live.

There seems no reason why the PartyPoker honchos would intentionally misappropriate the logos for a longshot project that will need widespread industry support to succeed. I’m subscribing here to the belief that this is an Occam’s Razor incident, and we should not attribute to malignance that which is better explained by, well, stupidity. Let’s face it: it’s a big cock-up, and such a simple misstep will invariable raise questions about how well-suited and technically savvy Fairplay will be when it comes to handling sensitive consumer information.

Is it a fatal blow for Fairplay? It’s way too soon to declare that. Yet instead of just posting a generic “Coming Soon” banner, Fairplay needs to acknowledge whatever happened with a profuse mea culpa to the UKGC and other organizations. The sooner that occurs, the better this project’s already-thin chances will turn out to be.


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