Well, it has certainly been a week of mixed news in the poker world.
In France, where inhabitants are subject to some of the strictest Internet gambling laws in Europe, Bwin’s CEO had some good news. But elsewhere, there was a shock in store for a group of players who plied their trade on the 888 Poker platform when they opened their inboxes earlier this week.
Let’s take a look at each of these stories in more detail, shall we?
Eight years after they were arrested, bwin.party’s current CEO Norbert Teufelberger and former CEO of the company Manfred Bodner have been acquitted of charges relating to offering illegal Internet gambling in France.
The pair were sensationally arrested way back in 2006 by French authorities, in the middle of a press conference announcing bwin.party’s sponsorship of the Monaco football team.
Despite the arrest, it has taken French prosecution services seven years to build a case and charge the pair, with the case scheduled to be heard originally in September 2013, though this was rescheduled to April 2014 after an error in scheduling.
The original charges by La Francais des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) were withdrawn against the pair. The French public prosecution services are still pushing ahead with a prosecute the pair, seeking fines of €40,000 against each defendent.
Bodner and his successo Teufelberger were charged with violations dating back to 2003 to 2005, when it was alleged that they violated French law by offering iGaming products and accepting sporting bets from French citizens. They were also charged with advertising these services within France.
Teufelberger was also detained back in November by Belgian authorities who were looking into the group’s operations in the Belgian market since 2012, when it was claimed they operated without a regulatory license. He was released by Belgian authorities without charge after questioning.
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When a poker room takes steps to ban players, usually there is a clear indication why, however for several players in Canada and Mexico this week, they are at a loss to explain why their accounts with 888 Poker have been terminated.
Indeed, all the users who have been banned seem to share only one similar characteristic: all are currently living in Canada or Mexico but they have previously resided in the United States.
The issue first arose around May 14 when the affected players attempted to log in to their accounts and found that they had been temporarily disabled and a note asking them to check their email.
Upon checking their email account, the players found a generic email from Cassava Enterprises (888 Poker’s parent company) which outlined that the company had decided to “discontinue your membership with us.”
With no reason given for the closures, rumours spread that players accounts could have been hacked, especially as the emails were often directed to the users' spam folder, however after contacting 888 to inquire as to whether the ban was real, players were informed it was indeed in place.
However, 888 Poker have not been forthcoming with any reasons as to why this specific group of players has been targeted and repeated requests to the company for more information simply sees the same email or response posted.
As such, those players that have been banned are none-the-wiser as to why this is the case, with the only link between the group is that they are United States ex-patriots who currently reside either in Canada or Mexico.
888Poker have so far refused to elucidate further on the matter. We will of course update this story should more information come to light.