Hogwash

Malta’s LGA Claims Everleaf Players Have Been Paid; No One Believes Them

hogwashIn the category of fly-by-night, online poker regulators whose word can’t be trusted, we can now confirm the addition of Malta’s Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA).  The LGA’s claim this week that former players of Everleaf Poker, which has disappeared into the virtual night, that a “great majority” of players have already been paid their balances, flies in the face of reports that continue to be posted by those self-same players.

Here’s the complete text of a brief statement that the LGA had the audacity to send out earlier this week:

Over the past months, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (the LGA) has been actively following and monitoring Everleaf Gaming, holder of remote gaming licence number LGA/CL3/230/2008 (the licensee), to ensure the remittal of all legitimate outstanding funds owed by the licensee to its registered players who have made a request to that effect.

 
Through the LGA’s intervention, a great majority of such players have already been paid in accordance with the Remote Gaming Regulations (S.L. 438.04) (the Regulations). Furthermore, the licensee is regularly updating the LGA with the progress of payment processing of the remaining legitimate claims and the LGA is doing its utmost to ensure compliance with the Regulations.

 
Players who have complaints against the licensee related to payment of funds should communicate with the LGA’s Player Support Department on [email protected]

What utter hogwash.  Let’s not forget the back story here: Everleaf, a tiny but predominantly US-facing online poker network, pulled out of the US market about a year ago after having $27,000 seized from an online processor’s accounts in conjunction with a cease-and-desist order it received from Washington State authorities, Washington being the single US state where the playing of online poker is actually a felony.

Everleaf’s response was to pull out of the US, but to pocket the cash out of its other US customers from its 49 states.  Instead of refunding US players, however, Everleaf gave its former American customers three options: Opening a NETeller account, opening a Moneybookers account, or opening up a bank account themselves outside the United States.

Given that neither NETeller nor Moneybookers (at the time) currently accepted US customers, it was  a fine how-do-you-do for Americans, who in most cases had no way to open up an account through which to receive their funds.It was a clear sham effort by Everleaf, and Malta’s LGA, the supposed regulatory overseer of thenetwork, went along with it, just as they’d washed their hands of doing anything when the now-defunct site Purple Lounge changed its corporate ownership, closed the poker room, and stayed in business while pocketing all their players’ funds.

My friend Nick at pokerfuse ripped the LGA a new asshole for its stunts last year, but we as writers can’t do much besides call attention to such horrendous fraudsters.  And make no mistake about it: Malta’s LGA is every bit as fraudulent as the worst of the sites they’ve claimed to regulate.

You know what’s worse than an unregulated online poker market?  A market which has fake regulators which have no intention of doing the job they claim to to, and are instead just rubber-stamp entities designed for no other reason than to collect checks and fool the unwary into thinking their shiny, slick logos mean something.Malta’s LGA has been for years been considered the worst of the bunch, winning the CasinoMeister forum’s tongue-in-check “Sitting on Their Hands Award” for several years running. 

Along with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) outside Montreal and two or three banana-republic regulatory somethings that appear to have no reason whatsoever for existing, these self-styled agencies represent one of the very worst things about the online-gambling world.

They need to die.  They need to die quickly.  LGA, this means you.While I’m aware of the general industry consensus that these agencies aren’t really designed to do what consumers believe they represent, the truth is rather more harsh: online poer and other forms of online gambling cannot be seen as legitimate until these regulatory groups actaully stand up and respect the player, in deference to their own customers, the sites.

One of my favorite KGC stories emanating from my UltimateBet and Absolute Poker research has to do with what comprised a completed answer by a member site to a consumer complaint lodged with the KGC.  It went like so:

1) Consumer lodges complaint;

2) KGC e-mails complaint to member site;

3) Site e-mails back to KGC that they received the complaint.

Until the fallout from the UB/AP scandals became so extreme that another minimal step had to be added, that was the entire.  The sites never even had to acknowledge the customers’ complaints back to the customers themselves to remain compliant with the KGC, and the LGA similar just refers all complaints to the sites themselves.

A pox on all of them.  Really and truly.

Until this entire faked generation of so-called regulatory overseers is washed away, very little end improvement is likely.  And that improvement will never come within, since there is little reason for these agencies to improve.  No, they’ll have to slowly be driven out of business by more respectable entities in larger, more responsible countries, a process which will unfortunately take many years and will be a bunny-hop dance — three steps forward, two steps back.

Someday, though, we’ll have online regulatory agencies whose word can be trusted.  But it won’t be the word of Malta’s LGA.

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