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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Online poker domains seized and owners indicted for fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offences

Online poker and the online gambling industry in general was dealt its most serious shellacking to date last Friday, 15th April, with the indictment by the US Department Of Justice of four of the biggest poker rooms on the internet, on multiple charges of criminal conduct, and the seizure of their ".com" domains. Below is a slightly trimmed copy of the indictment:

Manhattan U.S. attorney charges principals of three largest internet poker companies with bank fraud, illegal gambling offences and laundering billions in illegal gambling proceeds

Multi-Billion Dollar Civil Money Laundering And Forfeiture Action Also Filed

Internet Domain Names Used By The Poker Companies Seized

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and JANICE FEDARCYK, the Assistant-Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), announced the unsealing of an Indictment today charging eleven defendants, including the founders of the three largest Internet poker companies doing business in the United States - PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker (the "Poker Companies") - with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses.

The United States also filed a civil money laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint (the "Civil Complaint") against the Poker Companies, their assets, and the assets of several payment processors for the Poker Companies.

In addition, restraining orders were issued against more than 7 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors, and five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to host their illegal poker
games were seized.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said:

"As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud."

"Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits."

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge JANICE K. FEDARCYK

"These defendants, knowing full well that their business with U.S. customers and U.S. banks was illegal, tried to stack the deck. They lied to banks about the true nature of their business. Then, some of the defendants found banks willing to flout the law for a fee."

"The defendants bet the house that they could continue their scheme, and they lost."

According to the Indictment and the Civil Complaint unsealed today:

On October 13, 2006, the United States enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act ("UIGEA"), making it a federal crime for gambling businesses to "knowingly accept" most forms of payment "in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling."

Despite the passage of UIGEA, the Poker Companies, located offshore, continued operating in the United States. In a press release dated October 16, 2006, Absolute Poker announced that the company would continue its U.S. operations because "the U.S. Congress has no control over" the company’s payment transactions.

Because U.S. banks and credit card issuers were largely unwilling to process their payments, the Poker Companies allegedly used fraudulent methods to circumvent federal law and trick these institutions into processing payments on their behalf.

For example, defendants ISAI SCHEINBERG and PAUL TATE of PokerStars, RAYMOND BITAR and NELSON BURTNICK of Full Tilt Poker, and SCOTT TOM and BRENT BECKLEY of Absolute Poker, arranged for the money received from U.S. gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls.

Of the billions of dollars in payment transactions that the Poker Companies tricked U.S. banks into processing, approximately one-third or more of the funds went directly to the Poker Companies as revenue through the "rake" charged to players on almost every poker hand played online.

As alleged in the Indictment, to accomplish their fraud, the Poker Companies worked with an array of highly compensated "payment processors" – including defendants RYAN LANG, IRA RUBIN, BRADLEY FRANZEN, and CHAD ELIE – who obtained accounts at U. S. banks for the Poker Companies.

The payment processors lied to banks about the nature of the financial transactions they were processing, and covered up those lies, by, among other things, creating phony corporations and websites to disguise payments to the Poker Companies.

For example, a PokerStars document from May 2009 acknowledged that they received money from U.S. gamblers through company names that "strongly
imply the transaction has nothing to do with PokerStars," and that PokerStars used whatever company names "the processor can get approved by the bank."

By late 2009, after U.S. banks and financial institutions detected and shut down multiple fraudulent bank accounts used by the Poker Companies, SCHEINBERG and BITAR developed a new processing strategy that would not involve lying to banks. PokerStars, FullTilt Poker, and their payment processors persuaded the principals of a few small, local banks facing financial difficulties to engage in such processing in return for multi-million dollar investments in the banks.

For example, in September 2009, ELIE and others approached defendant JOHN CAMPOS, the Vice Chairman of the Board and part-owner of SunFirst Bank, a small, private bank based in Saint George, Utah, about processing Internet poker transactions.

While expressing "trepidations," CAMPOS allegedly agreed to process gambling transactions in return for a $10 million investment in SunFirst by ELIE and an associate, which would give them a more than 30% ownership stake in the bank.

CAMPOS also requested and received a $20,000 "bonus" for his assistance. In an e-mail, one of ELIE’s associates boasted that they had "purchased" SunFirst and that they "were looking to purchase" "a grand total of 3 or 4 banks" to process payments.

The Indictment and Civil Complaint seek at least $3 billion in civil money laundering penalties and forfeiture from the Poker Companies and the defendants. The District Court issued an order restraining approximately 76 bank accounts in 14 countries containing the proceeds of the charged offenses.

Pursuant to a warrant for arrest in rem issued by the U.S. District Court, the United States also seized five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to operate their illegal online businesses in the United States.

So in brief: after the passage of the UIGEA, these various offshore poker rooms teamed up with financial processing companies in order to disguise the gambling-orientated nature of their customers' transactions; when this route started to close down, they persuaded smaller blanks to turn a blind eye with cash injections that amounted to bribery.

The five charges:

• Conspiracy to violate Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

• Violation of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

• Operation of illegal gambling business

• Conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud

• Money laundering conspiracy

And the domains seized by the FBI:

• Absolute Poker

• Poker Stars

• Full Tilt

• Ultimate bet

A big question mark hangs over the legitimacy of the "unlawful online gambling" charges. There is nothing in US federal legislation which says that online gambling is illegal except the Federal Wire Act, which covers only sports betting. The UIGEA references "unlawful online gambling", but the "unlawful" charge is not backed by any legislation stating that anything beyond sports betting is actually illegal.

On the other hand, state law in Washington and New York specifically rules against most kinds of gambling. From the New York State constitution:

Article 1, section 9

Except as hereinafter provided, no lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any other kind of gambling, except lotteries operated by the state and the sale of lottery tickets in connection therewith as may be authorized and prescribed by the legislature...and except pari-mutual betting on horse races as may be prescribed by the legislature and from which the state shall derive a reasonable revenue for the support of government, shall hereafter be authorized or allowed within this state.

So does federal or state law apply? The New York Times has this to say:

U.S. cracks down on online gambling

Lawrence Walters, a lawyer who represents online gambling operations, though not those involved in these cases, said the indictment might raise an even more fundamental question: is online poker actually illegal? Federal law prohibits sports betting, but experts are divided over whether it clearly prohibits online games like poker and blackjack.

In the indictment, prosecutors seemed to skirt the issue. They based parts of their prosecution on state laws in New York and elsewhere that prohibited unlicensed gambling, including poker. Legal experts said the prosecutors needed to rely on such prohibitions as a foundation for going after the claims of money laundering and fraud.

But Mr. Walters said this strategy might face challenges. He said it was not clear that the state laws applied to foreign-based gambling operations, given that under federal law, international commerce was regulated at the federal level.

Gambling legal expert Nelson Rose has this to say about the charges of illegal gambling and fraud / money laundering:

Federal Poker Indictments: Revisiting Prohibition

Lacking the two essentials to any prosecution – a statute that clearly makes the activity illegal and a defendant physically present in the U.S. – the feds have announced showy legal action against easy targets about every other year.

Online poker is not an easy target, since a federal Court of Appeal ruled the Wire Act is limited to bets on sports events. And tricking financial institutions into processing poker payments seems a technicality, especially since the banks made millions without paying a penny in fines.

But getting a bank to agree to process gambling transactions in return for a $10 million investment is an easier case, if true...

Even if there was a bribe, the feds are still going to have to prove that the poker was illegal. Since the Wire Act won't work, prosecutors used 18 U.S.C. 1955, which makes it a federal felony if five or more people do more than $2,000 in business a day in violation of state gambling laws. The indictment relies on "New York Penal Law 225 and 225.05 and the laws of other states."

The Washington statute was upheld by the State Supreme Court. Still, there are problems. State laws are presumed not to reach beyond their borders. And even if internet poker is illegal in that state, it is quite a leap to seize domain names for the entire country and threaten bank accounts in places like Panama.

So it seems that even the fraud / bribery charge is hard to press without any actual illegal activity, but that "18 U.S.C. 1955" may give the DOJ what they need.

And the cause last week's seismic DOJ shakedown?

It couldn't be much more ironic. Daniel Tzvetkoff, a businessman who made billions operating those same financial processors whose work with the poker rooms formed the basis of these charges, has turned on his former business partners...after they had turned on him:

Meet The Boy Genius Who Just Took Down The Online Poker Industry

...He made Full Tilt Poker and Poker Stars millions of dollars — and made as much as $150,000 a day for himself — but then got even more greedy and started taking their (money). They sued him, accusing Tzvetkoff of taking more than $100 million of their money.

Then last April, Tzvetkoff was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with the same crimes those sites' founders were charged with today: money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud. Then after a "secret" meeting with prosecutors last August, he was suddenly out on bail. And now his former colleagues are the ones facing serious prison time.

Daniel Tzvetkoff knows the operations of these poker sites inside and out. It was knowledge of the financial industry that allowed them to operate. He's the one man positioned to give the U.S. Attorneys everything they needed to take down their businesses.

And it looks like that's exactly what he did, cooperating with the authorities to avoid his own lengthy jail sentence.

And the biggest irony of all? It's been rumored that the only reason the FBI got their hands on him is because Full Tilt or Poker Stars (the companies he used to work for and stole from) tipped off the FBI that he was going to be traveling to the United States last year.

They ratted him out ... and he turned the tables. No honor among thieves.

Not for the first time, the real losers are the players, who have had any and all money they had in Poker Stars, Absolute Poker, Ultimate Bet and Full Tilt Poker sequestered by the US administration, and currently have no idea when, and indeed if, they'll be reunited with their funds.

For ongoing, lengthy discussion of this and other related matters, see the 2+2 poker forum thread.

1 Previous Comments

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:23 am  

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

eCOGRA is now independent? So they weren't before, after all?

eCOGRA, the online gambling promotional organisation founded by Microgaming and 888.com, is apparently now independent, having been bought out by the management team:

March 28th 2011

The London-based player protection and standards body eCOGRA has undergone a change in ownership following a successful management buy-out (MBO) initiative led by chief executive Andrew Beveridge.

The organisation announced this week that the original Founding Members of eCOGRA, three major and competing online gambling groups, had agreed to the change.

In future the new ownership structure of eCOGRA would not include software or other service providers or operators enabling it to be truly independent in the discharge of its audit, advisory, compliance and seal awarding activities.


I will admit to being a tad confused. Since its inception eCOGRA has always claimed to be "independent", on the basis of being overseen by three gambling industry representatives, Michael Hirst, Bill Galston and Frank Catania, who were not on the company payroll and therefore with no apparent vested interest in seeing bucketloads of whitewash poured over the industry.

Although I would tend to disagree with this contention of implicit impartiality, and have a certain amount of evidence to back up the opinion, it wasn't an entirely irrational claim to make.

Yet now eCOGRA claims to be "truly independent". Therefore, they cannot have been previously, or why say so now? They cannot have it both ways; either they were not independent then but now are, or they were independent before, in which case this press release is a non-event.

You can't be "a bit independent", no more than you can be "a bit perfect". It's all or nothing.

Were the previous claims to independence simple marketing hype?

A comparable degree rancid cynicism runs through the opening section of a recent APCW video, which you can either listen to or read below:

APCW Perspectives Weekly for April 1st, 2011

It's no secret: I am not personally the biggest fan of eCOGRA; but that's OK - truth be known, the folks over there don't like me that much either. And who can blame them really, after all the half-truths and inaccuracies I've reported about them?

Remember when I said that eCOGRA should have stepped up and taken the lead on the Grand Privè investigation? They were angry with me for that one.

Then, when they did finally audit Grand Privè, I had the nerve to come on this programme and question the results of that audit.

On top of that, I had the audacity to question the possible conflicts of interest that could arise when an organisation that's supposed to regulate our industry, like eCOGRA, is founded and funded by the software companies running the casinos.

And who can forget my ridiculous questions about the audits of the assurance company which is owned by the people with the profit interest in the casinos being audited? I was way out of line on that one - it's no wonder they were so pissed off at me.

So imgine my surprise this week when eCOGRA put out a press release about a "change in their ownership"; that the software companies who founded them have agreed with this change, and that by making this change, eCOGRA would now be "truly independent" - their words, not mine.

So, let's review what has led us to this point, and why certain people are still mad at me:

1) In 2008, I said eCOGRA should audit the Grand Privè affiliates...which they eventually got around to in 2010, so I guess I was right about that.

2) When that audit was released, I questioned the results; just a couple of months ago, Grand Privè announced a relaunch of their affiliate programme and said they do, in fact, still owe money to webmasters...so I guess I was right about that.

3) I questioned eCOGRA ownership ties to major software providers, and the possible conflicts of interest, and

4) I said that such a relationship called their "independence" into question, both of which they just admitted to, in their own words, in their own press release this week.

So, if I was right about everything I said, the real question is: what are they so pissed off at me about?

I would also be curious for an answer to that question.

I suggest the following by way of explanation: eCOGRA is sensitive to criticism, aware as they are that the organisation is backed by the online gambling industry and exists for no reason other than the promotion of the same. "Independent" they have never been (it's nice of them to essentially confirm as much in this press release), so it's understandable, if hardly excusable, that they are touchy on the subject of their independence, as well as other matters where their inefficiency can be traced back to their industry ties.

I find these comments bizarre:

The MBO has scored an important coup in bringing eCOGRA's former Independent Directors onto the new Board.

"Our chairman will be Michael Hirst OBE, supported by a directorate that includes Bill Henbrey, Bill Galston OBE, Frank Catania and myself," said Beveridge, adding that biographies were available on the eCOGRA website at www.ecogra.org

"We are very fortunate that these highly experienced and respected figures in the industry will continue to make their considerable knowledge and business expertise available to us," he said.

Why does keeping the exact same people on board represent "an important coup"? It seems to be another non-event - the three individuals are still, presumably, being paid as before, so why would they even consider leaving?

Why is it so remarkable, and why is eCOGRA so overjoyed that Hirst, Catania and Galston are staying on the payroll? This seems ridiculously overblown.

It's like being overjoyed that today is Monday, when yesterday was Sunday.

Of course, this is not "an important coup", and the reason I point it out is simply to highlight, not for the first time, the marketing hype and hyperbole that is the stuff of eCOGRA. And it shouldn't be considered remotely unusual that this is the case - the gambling industry is itself the personification of marketing hype, and eCOGRA and the gambling industry are one. I'm glad that, late in the day, they've acknowledged this, albeit retrospectively.

One lingering question remains: who now pays eCOGRA's salaries, now that they are truly independent and no longer compromised with financial ties to the online gambling industry? Is the change in ownership a largely semantic matter, with the funding still coming from the software providers and no essential difference?

Or will they be securing a grant from the National Lottery?

4 Previous Comments

I absolutely agree with you Buddy.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 am  

Random,they say:
How possibly is Random? Swim,playing at the Roulette,covering 30 Numbers,and the Random Number Generator Chooses the Uncovered ones over and over?.
The same for the slots.playing for ages and the FREE Feature playing at Avalon never turn up.More than 500 Spins.Seriously?.
And they have the cheek to say.It is Random.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:18 pm  

All these *******,who are stealing from us Rigging The Online Casino Games,will be behind Bars very soon.
You will see.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:20 pm  

Much as I don't want to discourage any comment on this topic, it makes my life easier if you can keep your posts free of bad language. I just have to remove the posts, then edit and repost them, as I've done above.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 1:22 pm  

Post a Comment

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Easystreet Sports confiscates $46,000 for alleged illegal software use, but provides no compelling evidence

This is another fairly long article, regarding sportsbook Easystreet's confiscation of $46,000 from a US player on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations of robot play; you can navigate using the contents links below.

• The case
• Evidence presented by casino
• Offer made to player
• Report from software engineer
• Response to report criticism
• Conclusions
• Useful links

EastStreet sportsbook and casino recently confiscated a $46,000 win from a video poker player on the basis that robot software was used, an accusation apparently corroborated by an improbably fast play rate of 18 hands per minute over extended periods of time and the fact that his behaviour after hitting his various $20,000 royal flushes was not consistent with normal gambler activity - he did not stop directly, but played on for another one or two hands.

'Bots (robot software) are deemed illegal in the casino terms and conditions:

Artificial Intelligence - Robots:

You are not allowed to use any software program which, in our opinion, is endowed with artificial intelligence ("AI Software") in connection with your use of the Service.

We constantly review the use of the Service in order to detect the use of AI Software and in the event that we deem it has been used we reserve the right to take any action we see fit, including immediately blocking access to the Service to the offending user, terminating such user's account and seizing all monies held in such account.

What constitutes "artificial intelligence" is a bit of an unnecessary complication and serves to substantially muddy the waters, but it's reasonable to infer that a software programme that performs the mechanics of dealing, selecting and discarding cards and whose decision-making to achieve those ends represents optimal play can be considered a violation of this rule.

The matter was initially commented on in a report at Sportsbook Review, and they also made a Youtube video on the subject.

The player has a history of fraud of one kind or another, but there is no evidence of such in this case, which revolves exclusively around the allegation of the use of illicit software. Additional useful information is that the player made a total of about nine deposits of $250, receiving a 100% bonus for each. The wagering requirements were 25 times the value of the bonus, which yields substantial profit value for the player. This is very relevant to the case.

Let's take a look at what the casino offers as indicative of illicit software use:

1) He played in a manner not humanly possible, around 18 hands per minute for extended periods of time.

This is an average of one hand per 3.3 seconds, which is certainly fast, but not at all impossible if the software has an autohold feature in which paying hands and other typical holds, such as low pairs, are automatically held. A skillful, experienced player will be able to play close to whatever speed could be achieved by a purpose-built machine, as the thinking time needed is extremely short. The speed of play here neither disproves nor proves 'bot use.

Another sticking point for the casino's allegation is that at no point was the player's skill level determined, as only the final hand, and not the play decisions which led to it, was examined. It's clearly more time-consuming to make the perfect play each time than to play in completely random fashion, as the former requires time for thinking and the latter does not. As it stands we do not know this player's skill level, which makes it that much harder to make any kind of a judgement against him.

2) He did not stop directly after hitting his $20,000 royal flushes. Surely a gambler would not behave like this?

Of the two royals for which play logs have been provided, we can see that on the first he stopped one hand later:

After the second, he stopped after two further hands:

As such, it's a tad misleading to say he "didn't stop", as he clearly did. However, why he did not stop immediately is at least an interesting question.

The player was playing fast and hard - noone would question this. It's also very likely that he was concerned primarily with getting through the wagering requirement of the bonus and not especially focussed on the outcome of each hand. In either event - disinterested bonus player or feverish gambler - it isn't unreasonable to fail to visually register the appearance of the royal until after the next hand has been clicked into - the process of dealing the initial hand, choosing the cards to hold, drawing the new cards and then dealing the next hand becomes almost hypnotically automatic at that speed of play. This is therefore reasonably consistent with normal, manual play.

How would this post-royal stop be explained if the player WERE using a 'bot?

Since play did stop, either the 'bot would have been programmed to stop by itself or would have been stopped manually by the player. It cannot rationally be suggested that it was programmed to stop, as it would be pointless to stop once the jackpot hand was gone. As such, it could only have been manually stopped by the player, in which case the scenario would be that he was watching the game being played by the 'bot, manually stopping it to take a break after hitting the jackpot. This would be very strange, as the whole purpose of using a 'bot in the first place is to avoid having to be involved with the play - you would simply leave it to click its way through the wagering requirements.

The behaviour on the royals seems therefore to suggest manaul play with no 'bot software - the opposite of what the casino alleges.

RX forum moderator Wilheim, acting as mediator between casino and player since Easysports is an advertiser at The RX, put together a resolution offer for the player:

First you will need to take a polygraph conducted by an accredited professional polygraph purveyor. The polygraph will only address your play at EasyStreet during the session in which you hit your Royals, no questions about your past will be used against as far as this polygraph goes, EasyStreet simply wants to get at the truth and nothing else whatever it is. I am sure they actually hope you pass so they can in good conscience pay you.

Should you pass the the polygraph then an appointment will be set up shortly after (maybe the next day) to proceed to the offices of DGS for the video poker demonstration. You will be asked to come relatively close to the approximately 18 hands of perfect strategy on a 5 card draw video poker game per minute for a little more than five hours. The game will be identical to the one you played on when you won the Royals. You can have representatives from SBR or elsewhere accompany you during the entire process. At no time will you be asked to be alone with anyone you feel uncomfortable with. During the polygraph I imagine spectators will be asked to watch from an adjoining room. Should you fail the polygraph there will be no need to take the DGS test.

Should you pass both tests you will immediately be paid your entire balance and be allowed to either fly back to the US or remain in Costa Rica and actually visit EasyStreet and probably SBR should you care to.

Polygraph tests are not foolproof, and there are potential issues of testing bias which add further complications; also, the request for five hours play of perfect strategy was unacceptable because at no point was either five hours' play demonstrated or perfect strategy established. The player refused the offer.

In passing, I'll add that a more reasonable offer might have been along the lines of:

1) A polygraph test, on a strictly neutral basis within a reasonable distance of the player's home in the USA, with at least one back up test to help achieve consistency of results.

2) A play test of no more than two and a quarter hours' duration, requiring a skill-level that has not as yet been established but which would need to be in order for this to go ahead.

This was, however, never proposed, and I suspect the player wouldn't have agreed to it if it had been.

The RX then apparently engaged a software engineer to examine the play for the purposes of making a final ruling on the matter. This can be read in the Final decision of the dispute at Easystreetsports Casino discussion thread. The report reads as follows:

My Background:

6 years as a Gaming Engineer and software architect in the US. Projects include Wynn, Encore, Caesars Palace, Native Games America and IGT/Acres platform support.

Research and Conclusion:

Based on my independent research into the issue I have come to the following conclusions.

1) A human did not play the 8762 hands of video poker that were examined. This conclusion is based on the fact that the "player" played an avg. of 17.6 hands of video poker per minute for 499 minutes without a single error. This is a statistical impossibility.

2) It's been stated that perhaps the auto-play feature was in use at the time and that the "player" was simply using the auto play feature to achieve his abnormally high rate of perfect play. This feature was verified to NOT be enabled and consequently unless the player somehow breached the platform security (nothing suggests this occurred), toggled the feature on, set a more advanced strategy than is currently available to that feature, toggled the feature off, and then wiped the logs; this as well is very unlikely.

3) The "player" had no apparent reaction to hitting the 3 royals (in fact playing straight through the royals at a continued rate of ~3 seconds per hand) and was unable to accurately answer whether he was dealt a royal (as he stated) or that he held 2 cards and then received a royal (which he did).

4) The odds of a player hitting a single royal flush is roughly 1 in 40,000. The odds of a dealt royal flush (the player stated he received a dealt royal flush) is 1 in 649,740. The odds of hitting 3 royal flushes in 8762 hands of poker is statistically impossible. In fact in all of the years I've been in gaming I've NEVER seen that happen (and I've reviewed millions of hands of poker).

5) Load tests on the system show an average screen draw time of approx 1.3 seconds, this leaves only 1.7 seconds for the "player" to recognize all of the cards on screen, compute optimal strategy, physically issue whatever action he wanted, and the system to receive that action and begin a new hand. While possible (though incredibly unlikely), it's even less likely that the "player" could keep the rate of play up with no discernible alteration in strategy, timing, etc for 136 minutes (which was the longest non interrupted play period).

6) Based on my review of the play logs, research of the EasyStreet system, and discussions with other industry professionals; it is my professional opinion that the player used a bot or some other form of machine augmented assistance to play the hands at a rate fast enough to attempt to overwhelm the RNG and provide favorable odds to the "player".

A software engineer is neither a mathematician nor a psychologist, yet he claims just such expertise in this report.

• He states that it is "statistically impossible" to play many hands without an error, yet this is not his area of expertise, and irrespective of this, perfect play was never determined.

• He states that the player did not stop on the royals, which is a misrepresentation of the situation as the player stopped after one or two additional hands. It seems odd that a neutral third party would misrepresent thus.

• The comment "the odds of hitting 3 royal flushes in 8762 hands of poker is statistically impossible" is patently absurd and displays ignorance on several levels. In the first place, such an occurance is entirely statistically possible; in the second, the number of hands given includes only those sessions which contained a royal and ignores all the other sessions the player played; in the third, using selective data to "prove" your contention is an entirely invalid way to conduct statistical tests to begin with; and finally, the probability was never questioned as the software provider, DGS Systems, had already discounted the possibility of the player manipulating the software.

Is this software engineer accusing the software of being non-random? And why is he choosing to comment on mathematics, an area in which he is not qualified to offer an opinion?

• The report descends into farce at the end:

The player used a bot...to play the hands at a rate fast enough to attempt to overwhelm the RNG and provide favorable odds to the "player".

How do you "overwhelm" an RNG, and how does this happen by simply playing fast?

Why would such "overwhelming" cause the mathematics of the game - the odds - to change favourably for the player?

There is nothing in this report that proves bot use, and it is shot through with inaccuracies, ignorance and misrepresentations.

Following the release of this farcical report, Easystreet announced a video poker contest. The prize?

Total cash awards could exceed $46,000.

How convenient.

A day after the RX moderator's final report was issued, SBR published a video of a phone conversation with the player. Among the matters covered were his previous allegedly fraudulent activity at other sportsbooks and his reason for not immediately stopping on the royal flushes. No answer was forthcoming to the fraud allegations, but useful information was provided about the play after the royals.

Following the general criticism that followed the inaccurate and ill-informed report from the unnamed expert, he passed on his rebuttal to the feedback a few days later:

A few points, which I'll try to answer in the order that they are generally posted:

A) It's come into question if I reviewed the purported 22k total hands that the player played. It's clearly stated that I reviewed 8762. I reviewed the actual hands the player was dealt, what he kept, what was drawn, the avg screen draw time, the actual execution time, player response time, etc. The spreadsheet that was posted is obviously missing this information, but my review was on-site, in front of a management terminal, and with access to other pertinent information to base my decision on.

B) The word impossible should really be improbable (or highly unlikely). The probability of a player playing at that rate of play for that amount of time with perfect strategy (or at the least no discernible deviation in the strategy being used, whether it's perfect or not is, of course, purely an opinion) is very unlikely, improbable, etc. I apologize for the use of the word impossible, once again, it should have been highly unlikely, improbable, etc (I've incidentally never seen it happen on any video poker machine in any casino or casino bar in las vegas, laughlin, pechanga, or anywhere else I've worked, advised, contracted, etc.)

C) I play 20+ hours of poker a week on avg, video and table based poker for my job AND personal recreation, and in ~10 years of playing, I've never seen it happen. It's not impossible that it happened, but it is highly unlikely.

D) The 3 royals worked out to roughly a 1 in ~700 chance (I believe this has been stated elsewhere as well). Once again, highly unlikely (or improbable) is a better way to say this and I apologize for the use of the word impossible.

E) In reviewing the logs of the player, and the logs of other players, I still believe that the player used a bot to obtain his rate of play for the period of play in question. If it was in fact a human that played at that rate of play, with that strategy and no discernible signs of fatigue, my hats off to him or her. I've never seen anyone play that fast, for that long, that well. I was asked to determine if the player was human. It is still my opinion, after reviewing all of the information available to me at the time, that the player of the hands in question was not human.

This rebuttal is as shot through with holes as the original report. In no particular order:

• The expert has still failed to identify himself. This is procedurally bizarre, but maybe not surprising given the incompetence and ignorance he or she displays.

• The word "impossible" has been downgraded to "unlikely". Disregarding the fact that odds of one in 700 are no more "unlikely" than they are "impossible", this demonstrates an extraordinarily cavalier attitude on the part of the "expert" in question. Did he put such little thought into his original wording?

• He claims that perfect strategy is "an opinion". This is patently false. Perfect strategy, or the optimal way to play any given hand, is a matter of fact. The expert evidently does not understand this.

• He claims "no discernible deviation" in the player's strategy. With no established benchmark - he does not recognise optimal play - how do you establish deviation? You cannot deviate from a random strategy.

• He claims that odds of one in 700 are "highly unlikely". This is irrelevant. It lies within reasonable probability. Additionally, it ignores the fact that these odds are themselves incorrect as they are based on only the sessions containing royals, and statistical analysis cannot be made with selective data. He appears unaware of this.

• The expert never addressed the matter of what was meant, in his original report, by "overwhelming the RNG", nor how such overwhelming, if it could happen, would cause the odds to shift in the player's favour. This is not entirely surprising, as although statistical analysis is not necessarily the forte of a software engineer, matters of RNG behaviour are very much his department, and to make such inaccurate statements within his area of expertise is inexcusable.

Both the initial report and the follow up remarks demonstarte substantial ignorance of the relevant mathematics and even the specific area of expertise of software operation. It has little credibility as a professional appraisal, and does not prove or disprove 'bot use.

In conclusion: casinos are right to forbid the use of software robots, as these devices are typically used by profit-orientated players who seek to gain multiple bonuses via the use of accounts other than their own, be they genuine accounts managed by the player on behalf of family members and friends / colleagues, or fraudulent accounts based on stolen or faked IDs. However, the fundemental fault here lies with the casino in offering large bonuses with lax wagering requirements which are ripe for easy exploitation. Easystreet is a sports-focussed sportsbook with a casino sideline, which explains but does not excuse their poor casino management. Not for the first time, the player is being asked to pay for the casino's mistakes in offering easy bonuses.

The correct way to handle a matter like this is to pay the player if he is genuinely owed (the lack of any compelling evidence to the contrary here suggests that he is) and solve the problem - in this case, tighten up the bonus rules. The wrong way to go about it is to incorrectly blame the player and claw back the money which the casino lost essentially through its own inefficiency.

Other useful links:

Sportsbook Review: EasyStreet casino winner accused of using robot software

Sportsbook Review: EZStreet theft, deception and TheRx

RX forum: Easystreet

Wizard Of Odds: Easy Street Sports

Casinomeister: EasyStreetSports Casino steals $46K

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