Gordon Vayo Sues PokerStars
Gordon Vayo has won millions and millions of dollars playing poker, including over $4.6 million as the runner-up in the 2016 World Series of Poker Mani Event. And in the 2016 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP), he won a boatload of money, nearly $700,000 for winning the first event. But PokerStars still hasn’t let him cash out and for that, Vayo is suing the largest online poker room in the world.
Vayo is from the United States, but has setup residences in both Canada and Mexico so that he can play online poker for a living. During the 2017 SCOOP, Vayo says he played from his home in Montreal, but PokerStars says that he was really in the United States, faking his location with a virtual private network (VPN). As such, when he attempted to withdraw his funds, PokerStars initiated an investigation, eventually denying the cash out. After unsuccessfully convincing PokerStars that he was in Canada, Vayo decided to file a suit against Rational Entertainment Enterprises Limited, which operates PokerStars, in U.S. District Court.
In the lawsuit, Vayo’s legal team put forth the following:
… Mr. Vayo had submitted uncontroverted evidence – which Defendant [PokerStars] did not contest – that he was in fact in Canada on the first two days of the SCOOP tournament, on May 20 and 21, and it would have been virtually impossible (not to mention inexplicable) for him to travel to the U.S. in the middle of an active, intensive, major tournament that required nearly around-the-clock play and focus, leaving time for only brief periods of rest and nourishment.
Somehow, though, PokerStars said that it was not “inconceivable” that he traveled to the United States for the third day of the SCOOP tournament on May 22nd.
Vayo didn’t stop there, though, as he also claims (and at times sort of looks like he’s incriminating himself, though not necessarily in this specific case) that PokerStars happily lets customers play from the United States and then only makes a move when they request a large withdrawal. Have a look:
Defendant then allowed and encouraged Plaintiff and other users to play on the PokerStars.com site for months and years, while they placed their money at risk on the site in what they believed to be games in which they had a fair opportunity to either win or lose their money based on their play. During this time Defendant turned a blind eye and was indifferent to the location from which users of the PokerStars.com site were playing and accessing the site. Only after a user won a significant amount of money on the PokerStars.com site, would Defendant conduct an investigation into the location of the user’s play and access of the site. In this way Defendant was able to take the money of Plaintiff and other users of the PokerStars.com site with impunity, while depriving the same users of their largest wins if and when such wins occurred.
Vayo is saying that PokerStars is straight up stealing people’s money. After all, a player’s winnings don’t come from the poker room’s pockets. They come from other players. So Vayo is accusing PokerStars of letting people play from wherever they want, knowing the customers might be playing from somewhere that isn’t allowed, and then seizing and opportunity to pick off their large cash outs and saying, “Uh uh uh! You didn’t follow the rules!”
It’s an interesting strategy and will be fascinating to see where it leads.
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