This is exactly why Zynga is making the move into online gambling slowly and alongside an estalished partner like bwin:
Players receiving an error on the day of Ultimate Poker’s launch discovered that Iovation was being utilized to verify player identities. The company also provides online gambling reputation scores to determine an operator’s risk so it is possible that this service is being used too. Ultimate Poker downplayed this relationship as a subcontractor for one of their partners. This partner is known as CAMS in Nevada’s online poker industry. Their parent company is Verifi.
Iovation is a company that was spun off from ieLogic. Iovation essentially became Ultimate Bet’s software provider. As most in the online poker industry know, Ultimate Bet’s software had a tool known as “God Mode” that was later abused. Anyone using this tool could see all hole cards at the table.
There are a number of theories about how this came about but the most popular seems to be that Russ Hamilton, widely believed to be involved in the Ultimate Bet cheating, and Greg Pierson, CEO of Iovation, came to an agreement to create this God Mode tool and allow real time viewing of player’s hole cards. Another theory is that Pierson was directly involved in the cheating itself. A list of links and theories on the Ultimate Bet cheating scandal may be found here.
God Mode was purportedly created against the advice of tech employees and without their knowledge. Regardless of why it was created, and which person authorized it, the action was done by Iovation and the cheating caused by it was covered up and ignored by the company’s management. This same company tied to such serious fraud is now in charge of determining whether a player is reputable enough to play regulated online poker in Nevada.
Iovation Not Licensed in Nevada
Iovation is not licensed in Nevada as far as I can find on the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s website. It appears that they are a subcontractor for Verifi, CAMS’ parent company. CAMS is licensed to provide verification services to Nevada online poker rooms and they are the ones that pay Iovation. Multiple press releases (here and here) on Verifi’s website disclose this partnership. There is no direct relationship between Ultimate Poker and Iovation.
Multiple Player Concerns
Players have three reasons to not want Iovation involved in the US regulated online poker market. They do not trust a company that at the very least facilitated and ignored cheating on their site, if not a direct beneficiary of the massive theft. They also do not want such a company to be rewarded for this behavior by making money in the newly regulated market. There is also concern that Iovation’s involvement in Nevada may hurt expansion into other states that will use this as an example as to why the industry is not clean.
My Own Iovation Experience
Scott Tom of Absolute Poker posted under the shill account Pokermachine at Two Plus Two in 2007. Tom used it to spam Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet promotions. As you can see from this post made under the Pokermachine account, he finally admitted he had been caught by me and left the forum, at least under that handle.
It was not long after this incident that the Absolute Poker cheating scandal was discovered. I helped uncover information about Steamroller, which was one of the cheating accounts. I was a victim of this cheating, but like many others, my demands for a refund were ignored.
I was later contacted by an Absolute Poker employee that warned me that Tom had told team members to ban me from Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet. According to this employee, I would also end up banned at other rooms. It appears Tom or someone under his power placed negative information about me in the Iovation player database. This caused many issues for me when playing at US facing sites that also used Iovation. It was interesting that my Absolute Poker account was never closed even though they reported me as a fraud to Iovation.
I did not put the incident and the Iovation negative database entry together until a representative from another US facing gaming company asked me when I had last played at Absolute Poker after my account was locked. I told them it had been years but I still had a few dollars in it. This surprised the security member of the company as he assumed since I charged back over $1,000 (according to Iovation) my account would have been closed there.
I funded my Absolute Poker account through PrepaidATM, a now defunct ewallet. This money came from other poker room profits. My net win at Absolute Poker was huge as I was a prop there and the games were great. I may have deposited a handful of times for a top off or reload bonus but all funds came from profits already withdrawn from Absolute Poker or other rooms. My last deposit at Absolute Poker was many years before this negative entry showed up in Iovation. This makes charging back deposits impossible.
This still did not keep me out of their negative database. Even if there was an issue with a deposit, I was on Brent Beckley’s MSN contact list and they had my phone number. Beckley and I talked many times a week when I worked as a prop there between 2003 and 2005. Beckley was head of payment processing at Absolute Poker. He is now serving time in prison for this role. Nobody at Absolute Poker ever contacted me and my attempts to get them to acknowledge this issue were ignored.
There is absolutely no reason for Iovation to have any involvement in the US regulated online poker industry. I will be filing my own complaint against CAMS with the Nevada Gaming Control Board with a link to this article and a link to the Two Plus Two thread discussing the situation. This company was used by a known #$%$ to damage my reputation in the industry and their past with Ultimate Bet, a brand used to stiff Cereus players of nearly $50 million and had their own cheating scandal before the sale to Absolute Poker, speaks for itself.
Players should not be forced to give their Social Security Number to a company that has a long history of fraud. It seems incredible to me that a company with this type of reputation in the industry is deciding which players are too much of a risk to play online poker in Nevada and regulators need to know.
Even if I was the only person who was the victim of abuse in the Iovation system, which I highly doubt considering the number of people that helped uncover their cheating scandals and other fraud, the system is tainted. This in itself should prevent its use in Nevada.
A hearing about this process would at least give Pierson the chance to clear him and his company’s name, an opportunity all involved have avoided up to this point.