Non-UK Win Cake Players Grumbling over Forced Move to Juicy Stakes
Last week’s long overdue shutdown of the online-poker ghost town formerly known as Win Cake Poker appears to finally end the climb-and-crash tale of Cake, even if it ends with a bit of a postscript: The all-but-forced migration of the site’s remaining accounts over to new homes at Euro Club Poker and Juicy Stakes.
Writing for an affiliate site, poker-media veteran Steve Ruddock was the first to report the Win Cake shuttering last week. Since then a few more details have dribbled out, enough to write a formal goodbye of sorts to the now-flattened Cake legacy.
As for the migration to Juicy Stakes, designed to wrap up business on Win Cake, it’s for mere pennies on the dollar compared to those non-UK players’ original balances, and even the smallish starter balances given to players who consent to the migration aren’t eligible for withdrawal free and clear. Amounts and percentages vary, but they appear designed as “starter” balances, roughly between 1% and 15% of what the players had online. (Ruddock’s original story claimed 10-20%, but I haven’t seen any examples in that 20% range, and several much worse than 10%.) Worse, these balances must be played through until rake is generated equal to 150% of the starting stake, making the whole thing very much a bottom-rung, take-it-or-leave-it offer. Most players will bust that small starter stake long before reaching cashout eligibility.
The UK portion of the old Win Cake player base seemingly gets a much better deal, making some wonder exactly what sort of deal, over all, is really going on. In moving to Euro Club Poker, those UK-based players will have their balances honored in full, along with other promotional rewards. Except for one thing: As of this moment, the UK-based former customers of Win Cake aren’t be allowed to play at Euro Club Poker; instead they’re only being allowed to resubmit their withdrawal requests… if only any valid withdrawal options were being offered. At the present, none seem to be available.
Anecdotal evidence for this comes from player posts being published on various discussion forums. Here’s one such example, sent by Euro Club to a new, UK-based transferee:
It is with great regret that we announce that we will unable to facilitate real money poker play for our UK based players from today, January 27th. Our intention is to offer the service again in the very near future and will of course keep you updated on when our UK services are reopened.
For the moment, we have disabled access to our real money tables and tournaments. You will still be able to login to the software, access the cashier and request a withdrawal of funds if you wish to do so. As soon as we are able to open real money play again, we will disable these restrictions.
Our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the Euro Club Poker Support team at [email protected]
Euro Club Poker
The player, using the forum handle “h0880,” added a follow-up note that said, “Cant even cash out of Euro club poker as there are no cash out options in the cashier. Mailed support to try get my funds, already thinking I wont be seeing any money.”
Unfortunately, this and other players’ pessimistic expectations appear justified. We’ll return in a bit to the convoluted ownership situation which suggests that despite all these different names, Win Cake, Juicy Stakes and Euro Club Poker are all one and the same company.
First, let’s sum up the bad deal being offered to the remaining non-UK players on Win Cake. The rest of the world gets a lot less, noting one other exception: US-based customers of the old Cake Poker had already been moved to Juicy Stakes back in 2013, and aren’t as affected as the rest of those now being moved.
There are still other English-speaking countries whose players have patronized these Revolution Network sites, and these remaining players now being transferred to Juicy Stakes are given the option of either taking what Juicy Stakes offers — the poor term offered above — or having those old Win Cake balances returned to a site (Win Cake) that no longer even exists. If there’s anything good in that offer, it’s a 55% rakeback deal promised to those affected players who go ahead and not only play on Juicy Stakes, but make future deposits there as well.
Note that Juicy Stakes itself was started up as part of the “demise of Cake” contingency plan a couple of years back, brought about in large part through Cake Poker’s and Revolution Network’s dalliance with the fraudulent Lock Poker and its owner, Jennifer Larson.
In many ways, this is yet another part of that story, with players again left holding the bag in the wake of Larson’s tens of million of dollars of embezzlement throughout the online-poker world. Cake, later rebranded as Win Cake, was financially suspect when it joined forces with Lock and Larson, but left that relationship crippled beyond repair, as events subsequently proved. Meanwhile, Larson, believed to be in hiding in Italy, has not yet been held accountable for her alleged crimes.
That returns us to the remaining Win Cake player base, which now appears every bit as much the victim as those who lost their money on Lock. Win Cake itself wants to continue on in the business. The UK version of the site is still listed as part of an active UKGC gaming license (one of the three currently assigned to various Euro Club Poker business entities). And all these, plus Juicy Stakes registration information not part of the UKGC licensing structure, all resolve to the same Malta address.
As an unnamed Win Cake spokesman told Ruddock last week, “Cake will be focusing on providing Business to Business services and is divesting from direct consumer services. The Revolution network will continue to operate as normal.” As Ruddock noted, “Revolution powers Euro Club Poker, Juicy Stakes, and Intertops, among other skins.”
Except, the Revolution Network itself now appears to have been rebranded as well, to something called the Horizon Poker Network, incorporated in Belize but necessarily headquartered there. And the owner of the new Horizon network, er an updated entry over at PokerScout? That would be Juicy Stakes Games, Ltd.
With the probable exception of Intertops, a more reputable and more established site that became involved in the Revolution Network saga years ago through no fault of their own, it seems clear that all these sites and names — Win Cake, Revolution, Euro Club Poker, Juicy Stakes, Horizon — are the same ownership group, trying to find a way to dig themselves out of a deep financial hole.
The thing is, it’s clear that this ownership does not possess the means or the desire to make all these players whole, and that leads to another part of the question. Is there an ownership shuck going on that’s designed to shield a possible fraud from the eyes of the UK Gaming Commission?
Ask yourself this: Why else would the UK player base be sliced off, except to find a way to pay off this smallish percentage of players (compared to Win Cake’s total size back in 2013) who had their balances essentially frozen? It’s only those UK players that really have the residential clout to make complaints to the UKGC, and the UKGC is, in turn, the only regulatory agency with the backbone to yank a license while it might still matter.
Malta’s licensure, by comparison, is more than a mite frothy, and Maltese regulators have a long track record of hand-sitting. Non-UK players might have to try the Malta Gaming Authority route with teir complaints, and that’s been a brick wall in the past. Malta’s better than the comical Curacao, of course, but it’s not the UKGC.
Anyhow, things are shaking up and shaking out over at Win Cake or Horizon or Juicy Stakes or whatever they want to call themselves. This may eve be an attempt to appease an already complaint-saturated UKGC with regards to the ongoing Win Cake situation. What we haven’t seen yet is a wave of refund requests suddenly being honored, and that’s the truest test of whether an online-gaming company deserves both the industry’s respect and the right to continue operating.