Poker Reporter Accuses WSOP Nevada of Responsible Gaming Failings

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Poker Reporter Accuses WSOP Nevada of Responsible Gaming Failings

Nevada launched its online poker industry back in 2013, but its market is currently limited to just after the first site to launch, Ultimate Poker, folded its operation in November 2014, citing revenues far short of original forecasts. This has also discouraged other operators from entering the market, to all intents and purposes handing a monopoly over the whole market.

While this lack of competition is not considered a healthy environment for online poker, the site appears to have acted responsibly and adhered to state laws to date. Needless to say, any bad publicity would not only reflect negatively on, and its owner the Caesars Entertainment Corporation, but also has the potential to damage the reputation of the World Series of Poker which the company sponsors.

Against this backdrop, a growing dispute that has arisen between and John Mehaffey, a respected poker reporter and free speech activist, is threatening to tarnish the site’s otherwise clean image. If Mehaffey is to be believed, then is guilty of ignoring responsible gaming guidelines when dealing with his case, and delaying his cashout request apparently in an effort to keep him playing at their tables.

Withdrawal Request Denied

In 2017, Mehaffey decided to take advantage of a reload bonus offered by each summer by depositing $400 into the account that he had held for several years. After the Series concluded, so too did action at the games Mehaffey was interested in playing, leading to his requesting a withdrawal for the $411 he now held in his account. It was at this point that Mehaffey claims employed delaying tactics designed to keep him gambling on the site, in direct contravention of responsible gaming guidelines.

In fact, Mehaffey was so outraged over his subsequent treatment by the site that in July 2017 he wrote an article entitled ‘Support Problems Still Plague’ in which he vented his frustration over the experience. As he explained in the piece:

“I received an email telling me that my withdrawal request was denied. The reason was because I didn’t give enough action. This was nonsense. I made the sixth VIP tier and raked $273 in about two weeks. I had turned the original deposit over 14 or 15 times. By this measure, playing hundreds of $20 sit-and-gos wouldn’t meet the withdrawal criteria was trying to force on me.”

After apparently debunking their claim, Mehaffey responded to another request to produce a bank statement for his deposit by explaining that he paid in cash at the Rio. This was followed by a third email wanting further information on a $25 electronic check he had deposited months earlier, at which point Mehaffey issued them an ultimatum demanding immediate payment within 24 hours, or else he would lodge a complaint with regulators. That appeared to have done the trick, and soon after Mehaffey collected his money from the Rio. Issues Ban

Following the incident being published in his article, Mehaffey says that he was sent an email by the operator stating that he had requested his account be permanently closed. After disputing the claim and receiving no reply from support, he subsequently took his complaint to the Nevada Gaming Control Board in September 2017.

October is a busy time for the Gaming authority, and after backing off, Mehaffey said that he waited until this April until contacting WSOP spokesperson Seth Palansky and asking him for help resolving the matter. After things remained the same, Mehaffey sent a letter to Palansky stating that he would be notifying Nevada gaming regulators of the situation, not as a formal complaint but as a policy recommendation. Mehaffey also said he would make it clear that he was not attempting to punish Caesars, but that his real issue was with 888.

Palansky Makes Dubious Legal Threat

Palansky not only responded that his ban was justified, but also stated his public comments were unwelcome. Furthermore, Mehaffey is asserting that Palansky subsequently resorted to issuing a “dubious legal threat” and endorsed “meritless thuggery” by ending his email in the following way:

“Of course, you can take any course of action that you feel you must. We aren’t threatened by any of it. We will take actions from this point forward to prevent you from spreading misinformation about our company and will do what we feel is necessary, including refusing your service at all our land-based properties as well, in addition to pursuing legal action against you.”

Responsible Gambling Concerns

In the recent article he published called ‘WSOP Poker Site Sent Me Dubious Legal Threat’, Mehaffey wrote that he was unlikely to be banned from Caesar properties as they would not be able to prove any defamation had taken place, and besides doing so would cause them too much embarrassment. Mehaffey maintains that his chief concern is related to ensuring player protection measures are upheld all that responsible gaming guidelines are followed. He has also criticized the intimidation tactic employed to get him to “shut up” and has called upon any other customers that may have been threatened with the same behavior to come forward.

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