The Weekly Round-up – 31 May 2021:
The Tip Top Fox brings you the top poker and gambling industry stories of the week; Chris Moneymaker To Sue PayPal; GGPoker Closes In On Poker’s Top Spot; Ibrahimović Fined €50,000 By UEFA For Betting Company Ties
Chris Moneymaker To Sue PayPal
Former World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker has announced his intention to sue payment processor PayPal after the company seized $12,000 in funds from his account.
In an article on the website Poker.org Moneymaker’s legal team, the Bensamocahn Law Firm, issued a press release on Thursday, 27 May, announcing the intended legal action. Moneymaker confirmed this via Twitter.
According to the press release, Moneymaker and 11 friends entered into a Fantasy Sports league for the 2020 NFL season. Each participant paid $1,000 to be in the league.
Moneymaker agreed to hold the funds in escrow via his PayPal account. PayPal emailed Moneymaker in November 2020 informing him that his account had been “limited” due to a violation of its User Agreement – a 62-page document that refers to a separate Acceptable Use Policy.
In May 2021, Moneymaker says that rather than unwind the transactions by returning the funds to each of the individuals, PayPal informed him that it was confiscating the entire $12,000. In an email to Moneymaker, PayPal offered no justification for its confiscation of his funds.
A member of the Poker Hall of Fame, Moneymaker is credited with igniting the online poker boom after winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event for $2.5 million.
“I’ll leave to my lawyers to determine what the law says, but I think this is straight-up theft and Paypal is a payments bully,” said Moneymaker.
“This is less about the money – though $12,000 is a lot of money – it’s about the principle of stealing other people’s money and hiding behind thousands of words of legal mumbo jumbo that no one reads.”Chris Moneymaker
Since highlighting the incident on Twitter, Moneymaker has been contacted by many other poker players and consumers who claim PayPal has confiscated funds.
Other notable players chiming in on Twitter claiming similar treatment include Mike “The Mouth” Matusow and Todd “Dan Druff” Witteles.
“Somebody has to stand up to these guys,” Moneymaker said. “I’m going to continue to use my status and my social media channels to expose these immoral and illegal practices and ask others to join my lawsuit against PayPal.”
GGPoker Closes In On Poker’s Top Spot
According to an article published on Pokerfuse, online market leader PokerStars is in danger of losing the industry’s top spot for the first time in 15 years.
GGPoker has been making big gains over the last 18 months and, according to data provided by GameIntel, is within 10% of the cash game traffic of PokerStars. The two are only separated by around 600 concurrent cash game seats as of April 2021.
This marks the first time since the passing of the US Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006 that a rival company has been close to knocking PokerStars from the top spot.
PokerStars and GGPoker Go Head-to-Head
GGPoker and PokerStars have been competing head-to-head for close to 12 months. PokerNews compared how both sites fared during their big online festivals back in November 2020.
Stars had the edge in player numbers and paid out less overlay during November’s EPT Online tournament series. However, GGPoker’s High Rollers Week boasted bigger average buy-ins, larger total prize pool guarantees, and bigger prize pools.
The two sites went head-to-head again in April with rival Spring Festivals. The$150M GTD GGPoker Spring Festival ran concurrently with the PokerStars $100M GTD SCOOP Festival.
The GGPoker Spring Series proved to be the most successful series ever for GGPoker and came within a whisker of becoming the biggest series on record; a record PokerStars currently holds with the 2020 SCOOP generating an impressive $185 million in prize money over 371 tournaments.
GGPoker’s Spring Series came up just $9 million short of the record, generating more than $176 million in prize pools.
The Rise of GGPoker
Best known for its Natural8 skin, the Good Game Network (GG) launched back in 2014 with a focus on the Asian market. By 2016 GGPoker had become the more popular skin and built up to 700 regular cash game players.
This increased to over 1,000 players by March 2017, increasing further later that year by obtaining a UK gaming license. By the summer of 2019, this had increased to 1,300 players
Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 World Series of Poker, PokerStars was enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to the worldwide lockdown, peaking at 12,104 cash game players. GGPoker was in a distant second with 3,709.
However, after seizing the exclusive rights to host the 2020 World Series Online, GGPoker’s star began to rise. While the series had some teething troubles, with several of the initial events having to be postponed due to server issues and a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, it proved to be an overwhelming success.
The 2020 WSOP online Main Event set a Guinness World Record for the largest prize pool for an online poker tournament, drawing an impressive 5,802 participants who competed for $27,559,500 in prize money.
With the announcement back in April that GGPoker will reprise its role as the online host of the 2021 WSOP Online there is every chance that GGPoker eclipses PokerStars as the largest online poker operator before the end of the year.
PokerStars will certainly be looking over their shoulder at any rate. Close to 12 months on from PokerStars 2020 cash game player peak they still remain the market leader with 5,940 regular cash game players. However, as of May 2021, GGPoker comfortably sits in second with 5,318 regular players – and the 2021 World Series Online yet to play out.
Ibrahimović Fined €50,000 By UEFA For Betting Company Ties
Ibrahimović was facing a potential three-year ban for his ties to Swedish gambling firm Bethard. Via his Stockholm-based company Unknown AB, the football star owned a 10% share in Bethard, in addition to occupying the role of brand ambassador for the firm.
Holding financial interests in any betting company violates UEFA regulations. The sport’s governing body responded by announcing an investigation into Ibrahimović’s links to Bethard. UEFA has since fined Ibrahimović €50,000 (~$61,000) for his transgression.
The paper that broke the story, Aftonbladet, shared the details of the investigation and subsequent fine via Twitter.
UEFA Makes Statement
While Ibrahimović avoided a playing ban, his club AC Milan was also fined €25,000 (~$30,500) for violating the same article of UEFA’s disciplinary regulations. According to the UEFA statement:
“The Chairman of the UEFA Appeals Body today took the following decisions: To fine Mr. Zlatan Ibrahimović €50,000 for violating Article 12(2)(b) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR), i.e. for having a financial interest in a betting company.”
“The chairman of the Uefa appeals body also issued Mr. Ibrahimovic with a directive aimed at ceasing the player’s association with the relevant betting company.”Official UEFA statement
According to Fifa regulations, Ibrahimović could have faced a maximum sanction of a three-year ban from football.
Given his age – 39 – that was potentially a career-ending ban so Ibrahimović can consider himself lucky with just a fine to contend with.
Ibrahimović has since signed a one-year contract extension with Milan after scoring 17 goals for the Italian side last season.