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Eurolinx: withdrawal problems and cashflow concerns for this formerly well-regarded Microgaming poker licensee

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eurolinx: withdrawal problems and cashflow concerns for this formerly well-regarded Microgaming poker licensee

(Editor note: this is an exact replica of my Eurolinx article of last week, which has for some reason vanished from the Google database.)

Casinomeister warning
Licence jurisdiction
What happened?

Eurolinx is a member of the Microgaming poker network. If you read my news articles or follow the online poker scene you'll probably be aware of the ongoing Microgaming / Tusk scandal, in which licensee "Tusk Investment Corporation" went into insolvency leaving approximately $5,500,000 owed to players, and from which Microgaming emerged with their credibility around their ankles having failed to provide any assistance to players, or even reply to their emails.

Just eighteen months after the Tusk collapse, a very similar situation appears now to be unfolding at yet another high profile Microgaming poker room. In fact, with the possible exception of Ladbrokes, Eurolinx was probably the single most well-regarded of all the Microgaming poker operations.

The entire situation is well documented in the unfolding slow Eurolinx withdrawals discussion at 2+2 Poker.

Delays seem to have started emerging in April 2009. On May 15th a player reported:

The live chat rep told me that it is a delay on the bank side and the transfer was initiated on April 23. Forgive my ignorance of the banking industry but why does an electronic transfer take in excess of 3 weeks to clear?

On May 28th, a player waiting seven weeks for a cashout heard thus from a CS rep:

As far as I know we have been paying players normally, so in your case I am really sorry that they have not paid you on time.

On June 1st problems were acknowledged for the first time:

I spoke to the managing director on the phone earlier. He explained to me that they are having problems with their payment processor that is returning a lot of transfers without proper notice.

The manager in question agreed to pay this player at a face to face meeting in malta, which he did.

Nice way to do business.

The next day, a player called, having been told that at that specific time a member of the finance team would be available to talk to him. So he called as agreed. The response?

Unfortunately my supervisor is not here at the moment.

Two days later, some excuses had been added:

Yes we do have few players experience longer. Either they have provided us the wrong bank details, or our bank is very strict on big amount withdraw, they will take longer time to check, to ensure there is no money laundering.

All of which is some way from "...we have been playing our players normnally".

On June 13th, "security reasons" are still causing delays:

Our Investigations Team is reviewing withdrawals for security reasons which causes some delays. But I can assure you that there is nothing to worry about.

Why were there never "security reasons" before April 2009?

On June 23rd, a CS rep denies that Eurolinx is heading towards bankruptcy:

But we are really expanding. I am new employee for instance. Why would they hire me if they were going bankrupt?

On June 25th a player with experience in financial administration gives his take on the "security delays":

From an administration perspective withdrawals to moneybookers/netteller are all but instant. The company I work for have a 24hr fraud team who approve our withdrawals - basically pending withdrawals appear on a ticker - fraud team take a quick look and once satisfied that everthing is fully legit they press the cash out button. On a bad day you may be waiting an hour, on a good day you are waiting 10 mins.

Generally speaking if you are waiting for more than 24 hours the reasons behind it are not ones I would be comfortable with.

I suspect none of the players were particularly comfortable with Eurolinx's excuses at that point.

By July 2nd a CS rep's apologetic explanation seems to be verging on the truth:

Kindly note though that there are some delays in processing at the moment, due to tightened security checks on withdrawals. I am afraid I do not have a strict time frame to provide you with. Your withdrawal will be processed as soon as possible.

On July 5th, a player waiting fully three months for a "completed" $20,000 withdrawal had this to say:

This withdraw still hasn't been received. Every time the live support member claims they are talking to the finance team, and I beg for an email response from the finance team to confirm the situation, but every time I am ignored and forced to wait a week and then go back to contacting live support.

Some players did report withdrawals along the way, some quite large. Eurolinx clearly had money, but they did not appear to have enough to cover all withdrawals, let alone all player balances.

On July 16th, a bad sign - a bonus offer and a new rakeback deal:

Due to certain payment processor issues we encountered within the last months, we experienced some delays when processing withdrawals. I am aware that you have been affected by this problem and I hope you accept our sincere apologies. In addition, I would like to offer you a special bonus as a form of compensation.

Please find a $500 bonus credited to your Eurolinx poker account; these funds are yours to keep and no deposit is required. The only requirement is that you will need to play minimum 6,000 raked hands before being able to withdraw the bonus amount. We will also DOUBLE the bonus if you play another 6,000 raked hands after clearing the first $500!

Furthermore, I have a brilliant rakeback deal to offer you which opens at 50% over a 3 month period. Please contact me via MSN (vipeurolinx@hotmail.com) or Skype (eurolinxjackie) so that I can provide you with further details, terms & conditions.

I hope that you can accept this offer as compensation for your delayed withdrawal and as a gesture of good will from Eurolinx. Please make sure to contact me to for more information and to confirm this offer!

One more thing: Don't miss out on the great VIP special promotions we will be releasing in the coming months, including Invitational guaranteed tournaments, live tournament packages and many more!

But the delays continued, always because of "increased security checks". However, as mentioned by the player above, security checks can be done in an hour. Security checks which take three months are not security checks, they are excuses.

By July 20th things appeared to be looking up:

The problem has now been fixed, however, we have some withdrawal backlog to deal with. That is why your withdrawal was not able to process on time.

I thought it was about security checks? So there was a problem after all?

The CS reps' excuses are a little inconsistent at this point. Anyway, all's well now, apparently.

On July 31st, a withdrawal had been processed...but it hadn't:

I have checked your bank wire again and the problem is although we have completed the withdrawal process, it was in fact still pending in the bank system. I have informed the bank to reprocess it again. When I have more information regarding your bank wire I will let you know.

...followed, a day later, with a return of the "wrong bamk details" line:

We have just been informed by our bank that your wire withdrawal cannot be processed with the information that we have.

Could you review those details and get back to us if anything should be changed? According to our bank, the bank name and Swift code do not match.

Noone at his point believes Eurolinx is anything but bust. On August 3rd, a player waiting ten weeks for his money:

13th of May here, still waiting. Yes, I do believe they are broke at this point. There is no other reasonable explanation and there hasn't been one for a long time.

On August 4th, a player started to keep a rough tally of money owed. At the time, around a quarter of a million dollars was outstanding.

At this point, CS reps had stopped fielding excuses and were instructing players to contact the finance department. In fact, this appeared the de facto response to all enquiries, as requests about Eurolinx's licensing jurisdiction got the same response.

The above has all the classic indicators of an insolvent gambling operation - extended and implausible excuses about "payment processor delays" and the inevitable bonus offers, a desperate attempt to hold onto customers and generate business.

A Casinomeister warning was issued, and Eurolinx was put on Bailey's no help possible list, for "reasons of veracity", which I assume means that Bailey thought they were lying to him about the situation, which is extremely likely.

Around the same time, an affiliate posted about a Eurolinx non-payment of affiliates issue at the same forum. It would seem that players and affiliates alike are now receiving the big heave-ho from Eurolinx.

Eurolinx is actually licensed in a jurisdiction which borders on reputable - see the terms and conditions page:

"Eurolinx" is a company owned by Eurolinx International NV, whose offices are held at PO Box 6052, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. It is marketed by same through an exclusive agreement with Eurolinx Ltd, whose offices are held at Vincenti Buildings, Suite 409, 14/19 Strait Street, Valletta Malta. Eurolinx shall heretoafter be referred to as the "Company."

Eurolinx is licensed in Curacao under the master license #5536/JAZ.

The Caracao Licensing Authority would appear to be the organisation responsible for all online gambling operations in Caracao. There is no list of licensees. The contact page lists physical address and an email, as well as a contact form.

Assuming this is the relevant authority, players would be advised to contact them.

So what happened to Eurolinx?

Players' deposits at a poker room simply get passed between the players, with the room taking a percentage of each pot. As long as bonuses are subject to the right raked hands wagering requirement, the room cannot lose.

The only circumstances in which a poker room can lose is when the profit from the rake does not sufficiently counterbalance any or all of the following:

• Licence fees
• Staff costs
• Affiliate payments
• Bonuses

That is, assuming that the room does not actually plunder the bankroll of player deposits. However, controls from both software provider and licensing authority should take care of this, to ensure the saftey of all player deposits.

But something has gone wrong. What, we do not yet know.

We also do not yet know the full extent of Eurolinx's liability to players. The rough estimate from the 2+2 discussion thread, standing at around $500,000, is clearly well below the full total.

Microgaming poker is a mess. In February 2008, the first big licensee collapsed, leaving players vastly out of pocket and with no help from Mirogaming. Exactly one year later, one of the biggest individual licensees, Eurolinx, appears insolvent.

Will Microgaming poker recover for the current blackening their name is currently receiving? I'm not sure it deserves to. Microgaming used to be synonymous with player safety, a software provider that policed its licensees and kept them in check, going as far as compensating players when they failed. The Tusk fiasco showed that this was no longer the case, and I highly doubt they will step up to the plate if and when Eurolinx is officially insolvent.

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