Iovation Continues Sliming Its Way Back Into Gambling Industry With Playtech Deal
Amid the typical Friday news dump, prominent business-to-business gambling services provider Playtech announced it has signed a technological partnership deal with Portland, Oregon-based iovation, the company behind the long-failed and fraudulent online-poker company UltimateBet. The Playtech-iovation deal is all about iovation’s patented “FraudForce” technology, which is designed to authenticate gambling users’ devices to verify, among several other things, the connected device’s true user and location.
According to a press release issued by Playtech, “Powered by a Global Device Intelligence Platform, FraudForce focuses on the device, not the user, to detect fraudulent activity and identify hidden links between devices and suspicious accounts and identify familiar devices. Access to FraudForce via IMS will empower operators to make real-time, automated decisions on any device they feel may pose a risk.”
FraudForce appears to be the latest incarnation/rebranding of the old ieSnare technology created way back when the company behind UltimateBet was called iovation but was instead known as ielogic, operating the old UB illegally from the States, first from a Portland strip mall, and later from the downtown Portland edifice known as Big Pink.
One would have hoped iovation would have had the good sense to stay out of the online-gambling sphere after the UB insider-cheating scandal that centered on Russ Hamilton but also implicated several iovation higher-ups, most notably Greg Pierson. The ieSnare / FraudForce product suite was (and presumably remains) an effective tool for combating credit-card fraud and the like, but iovation’s years of internal fraud and lack of corporate control should have long precluded the company from being allowed anywhere near the online-gambling industry.
Instead, as has been the case for several years, the company has been trying ooze its way back into the industry. Back in 2013, the short-lived Ultimate Poker site in Nevada (no relation to UltimateBet) briefly retained iovation as a third-party service provider before public pressure forced them to back away from the deal. Then, in 2016, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved iovation’s third-party service-provider application so it could seek to do business with some Nevada-based companies.
Back then, I published a couple of pieces showing that Greg Pierson was intrinsically involved in the cheating, and that neither Hamilton nor his sidekick, Mansour Matloubi, had the programming expertise nor the access to the code repository necessary to keep the cheating active, which it was for more than four years. I even spoke briefly to an NGC employee and sent them quite a bit of evidence, but short of a personal letter signed by Pierson, the NGC wasn’t much interested in denying iovation’s application. I even volunteered to bring a laptop bag full of information to the NGC offices in Carson City, since I was going to be in nearby Reno for several days, but that offer fell on deaf ears as well.
Yet iovation’s and Greg Pierson’s role in one of online poker’ largest-ever scandals hasn’t been forgotten, and iovation still steps carefully around all industry matters as it tries to re-ingratiate itself into an industry where it should never be welcomed again. Witness the presser from Playtech announcing the deal, which includes these quotes from Playtech CEO Shimon Akad:
“Everyone at Playtech is delighted to be working with Iovation to bring FraudForce to our licensees. IMS is already the most comprehensive player management platform in the industry, but with the Playtech Open Platform, we can enhance its capabilities even further.
‘We are passionate about equipping our operators with world-class fraud prevention tools, and our partnership with Iovation is a key part of our strategy to deliver this. FraudForce is a powerful weapon in the war on cybercrime in online gambling, with its integration into IMS providing a seamless boost to the arsenal of our licensees.”
“We’re excited that Playtech is joining forces with iovation to make the Internet a safer and less complicated place for its licensees,” said Ed Wu, VP of Global Partnerships at iovation. “Our partnership strengthens the ability to spot risks and remediate fraud threats. It’s a fantastic feeling to be able to work together to give users an extra level of confidence.”
It’s the usual pap from such releases. Yet, such releases invariably include quotes from both parties involved in the partnership. But that couldn’t be done here, because Pierson’s name is such poison within the gambling world. Instead, the release offers nothing from the iovation side.
If only iovation was also a nothing when it comes to an industry presence. Even this little bit is way too much.