The PPA’s Time-Capsule Excoriation of Lock Poker
Friday’s publication of a public letter from the US-based Poker Players Alliance to online poker site Lock Poker over the failure of Lock to honor withdrawal requests is one of those things that sounds like a very good idea in practice. In reality, however, it’s probably a case of way too little, way too late, perhaps even something that was better off not even having been done at all.
It’s a fine example of political image polishing that has little real impact on the matter at hand and might even — since its publishing comes roughly two years after Lock fell into disfavor with its players, prominently Americans who moved their following 2011’s Black Friday — serve as a bit of a negative for the PPA itself, since its motivations are so clearly self-serving.
First the letter itself, reprinted verbatim from the PPA’s own site:
April 25, 2014
To: The Owners, Officers, and Managers of Lock Poker
Re: Status of poker player requests for return of funds.
On behalf of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), we, the undersigned members of the PPA Board of Directors, are writing regarding the current payment processing situation at Lock Poker. We will gladly report to our membership any information you can provide.
The reason we are contacting you with this formality is due to the substantial number of complaints we have received from Lock Poker players. We have been informed that Lock Poker is taking an unreasonable time in fulfilling its customers’ requests for return of their funds. In some cases, the reports are of significant delays; in others, we see reports of requests for payment having languished over a year with no progress. Similarly, many players report that Lock Poker frequently responds to their inquiries about the status of their funds with canned emails or emails that simply state the request is “still in processing.”
The Lock Poker website has no mention of these significant delays. To the contrary, as of today Lock Poker support is telling potential new depositors that withdrawal requests take eight to ten weeks to process, with some experiencing longer withdrawal times. While this may be a marginal improvement over recent reports from potential new depositors of promised withdrawals in four to six weeks, it clearly falls far short in warning new depositors of the significant cashout situation at Lock Poker.
As America’s leading advocate for the political and legal rights of US Poker Players, PPA is well aware of the difficulties inherent in transferring money to and from poker players in the US. We are also aware of, and totally committed to, the principle that protection and availability of player funds is essential for a properly functioning poker economy. In accord with this, PPA keeps its members informed of problems concerning player funds held on account at poker sites and works as aggressively as possible to protect and/or facilitate return of those player funds when poker businesses have failed to do so.
With respect to Lock Poker specifically, the uneven nature of your processing of player requests for return of their funds raises questions. All players seem aware of the difficult nature of the times and expect some delay in processing payments, but players do not understand why some players are occasionally paid within or near the stated time frame while others wait additional months and others seem to never get paid. Equally perplexing are the many reports that players are getting little or no information regarding why such a state of affairs exists. As we are sure you are aware, many players are directly questioning the financial solvency of Lock Poker and its ability to repay players. Many have begun to sell their funds on Lock Poker on the secondary market for substantially less than the face value.
The undersigned Board Members have discussed simply issuing direct warnings to all our members concerning the Lock Poker situation, but before deciding whether to take such action it was agreed that Lock Poker should first be offered the opportunity to communicate its policies and situation. We would like to begin that dialogue with responses to the following questions:
1. Does Lock Poker keep players’ funds segregated from operating funds? If so, what mechanism is used to accomplish this separation?
2. Does Lock Poker have, or will it be implementing, a system to organize its payment processing so that those who have been waiting the longest will be given priority in future payments?
3. Does Lock Poker have a timeline of its plan to pay its players in full?
4. Will Lock Poker immediately provide open, accurate, up-to-date information regarding time required to process customer withdrawal requests?
We appreciate that there may be legal difficulties in processing payments to US players, but we cannot ignore a situation where the funds of a substantial portion of the poker community may be in jeopardy.
We look forward to your response to our inquiry.
John Pappas, PPA Executive Director
Rich Muny, PPA VP of Player Relations
And how, why so much of this should be treated with a giant “Really??”
The paragraph that starts by mentioning the “uneven nature of processing of player [withdrawals]” is a wonder. Particularly this: “Many have begun to sell their funds on Lock Poker on the secondary market for substantially less than the face value.” Yeah, except that’s been happening since 2012. Today Lock funds go for something like a dime on the dollar, making them the true junk bonds of the online poker world.
Then toss in the PPA’s wholly correct reference to the fact that many Lock Poker withdrawal requests have gone unfulfilled for well over a year, itself an indirect affirmation that the PPA took a lot of time to act. The thing is, that gigantic has been tracked very openly and publicly, literally on a daily basis, on the 2+2 forums, where the PPA itself maintains a subforum and a very active presence.
To ignore the building situation for two years and then speak out now, when all hope of recovering funds is unlikely to be improved by the making of such a statement, is self-serving political expediency at its finest. The PPA is generally getting blasted for the letter elsewhere on 2+2, despite the fact that that forum is generally the most pro-PPA of all poker discussion venues.
It’s simply a letter that allows the PPA to claim that it tried to assist Lock Poker players in their efforts to retrieve their funds, should someone look back at it from a future date a couple of years done the road. By that time a lot of the other clutter will have disappeared from the discussion… as well as from the front page of Google searches on the topic.
The four questions the PPA asks are similarly frivolous. It’s highly unlikely that Lock, whose owners come from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and who have incorporated themselves in some of the dodgiest gambling “regulatory” regimes on the globe, will bother responding to the PPA letter. Being US-based, the PPA has no legal relevance to Lock’s offshore operations.
And even if Lock were to answer, their answers couldn’t be believed — as shown by the examples earlier in the PPA’s own letter about the ongoing lies on Lock’s site and from Lock customer service regarding withdrawal times. It’s a giant pile of moot.
So the letter is frivolous and fruitless. But is there any good that come of it? One small possibility is that it could somehow convince Lock’s largest remaining affiliate, CardPlayer, to drop it’s prominent Lock Poker banners. Yet that itself is also a stretch. The Shulmans, the family that owns CardPlayer, has demonstrated a two-decade history of demonstrating that the actual “card players” their mag is titled after are nothing more than a resource to be exploited. When tough news stories and scandals have arisen, CP has always been about the last place news of such has appeared, and usually then only as a matter of last resort.
The years-long saga of the UltimateBet cheating is a prime example, as the story went almost uncovered at CardPlayer despite important news breaking over the span of several years. Then again, CP was the very first affiliate of UltimateBet, existing literally as the site itself went live.
One also has to note the PPA’s own historic ties to CardPlayer, since the PPA itself was founded by several individuals with ties to the original CardPlayer, and who retain interests in that brand name as well. At one time several PPA boardmembers had strong CP ties, and it was only when the organization went “federal” and moved to Washington D.C. that the board was reorganized, in part to lessen its CP-centric appearance.
That’s why this latest PPA puff is even more of a show pony than it appears. The only possible plus would be to get CP to yank its Lock ads, but it’s always hard to put the hammer down against old friends.
So it’s a writeoff, pure political shilling that draws attention away from more important matters, frankly designed for little more than to keep the PPA’s name in the poker headlines. I guess that part of it worked.