Cheaters and Thieves Week: Brent Beckley Rumored to Have Joined BetOnline
Picking up where the first part of our BetOnline double feature left off, there are rumors afoot that convicted Absolute Poker exec Brent Beckley has rejoined the industry in a new rule at BOL, the same company targeted in a viral video regarding alleged house cheating during “live dealer” online blackjack.
If there’s anything that will give cynical types an extra lengthy pause when considering BOL’s integrity, it might not be the blackjack stuff, but rather the surfacing of these rumors regarding Beckley. Steven Stradbrooke over at CalvinAyre.com had an okay piece on the rumors, which surfaced from multiple sources at the recent ICE Totally Gaming conference in London. There are a few minor errors in Davy’s piece, such as calling Beckley a co-founder of AP, but whatever. Beckley, the younger step-brother of disgraced, still-on-the-lam AP CEO and primary cheater Scott Tom, was about the eighth person to join the company, moving to Costa Rica to help out the nascent AP after graduating from the University of Montana.
Beckley’s special area of responsibility at AP was orchestrating payment processing, utilizing third-party facilitators. After 2006’s passage of the UIGEA, that generally involved sliding around walls erected around the US banking system to block such gambling-related transactions. Beckley’s attempts to circumvent the UIGEA brought him directly into the DOJ’s “Black Friday” crosshairs, and Beckley eventually went to prison in 2012 for a handful of months after negotiating his return to the US. Tom, of course, remains an outlaw from US jurisdiction, at last report still playing backgammon at coastal bars in Antigua.
Once Beckley was released, he started an independent marketing / consulting firm in Salt Lake City, though it’s unknown exactly how well most anti-gambling Utahn business types reacted upon delving deep into Beckley’s past. If you want a chuckle on how one presents the AP stuff in business-resume form while looking for work or customers, here’s Beckley’s LinkedIn page.
Though that page makes no mention of Beckley’s possible return to the online-gambling world, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t joined BOL in some category. The rumors alone give plenty of industry people trepidation, given how massive the insider cheating was at Absolute Poker.
Yes, the dishonesty even stretched to blackjack, in a scheme that Beckley certainly ought to have had knowledge regarding. Back when Absolute Poker added blackjack to its site, following the lead of PartyGaming, Scott Tom came up with a scheme through which every blackjack player would win his or her first real-money bet. The idea was to implant a “winning” feeling, a marketing incentive that would lead to more hands played, and eventually, more hands played by depositors over the long run. That’s in addition to the insider cheating at poker, done with the knowledge of all of AP’s on-site, top-level execs, which occurred for more like four years, clear water for the business’s operations or not, rather than the six weeks or so AP officially acknowledged.
There was also, if memory serves, an incident involving either AP or its follow-up entity, Blanca Games, that involved a bit of a rigged outcome in of their casino offerings. I believe (though I’ve done a quick search, and can’t find it at the moment), that an online player discovered a “bug” in which the player received a minor win every fifth game, like clockwork. Again, the goal was to induce more wagering via an inconsequential “teaser” win. (Anyone reading this who can share a link, please do, and we’ll firm this bit up in an update. UPDATE: A nod to writer John Mehaffey, who remembered that it was an issue with AP’s online keno offerings back in 2010. AP blamed the non-random wins on a software error, though few industry observers believed them.)
Gaming regulators nixed the first-hand blackjack thing because it blatantly violated the rules that stated every hand had to be played fairly. Yet Absolute Poker’s long and corrupt history, including Brent Beckley to its very core, showed that AP’s offerings were never, ever fair. It’s in light of that long history that many folks have become dismayed at the latest rumors. Mind that Beckley has done his time as adjudged and has every right to try to earn the best living he can. However, both his alleged return to online gambling and BOL’s taking him in represents taking the low, easy road.