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PokerStars has been caught in an unpleasant lawsuit. Professional player Gordon Vayo, who was the runner-up in the 2016 World Series of Poker flagship event, filed a lawsuit on 2 May, claiming that the website had failed to pay out $700,000 worth of winnings from a tournament Mr Vayo had participated in May 2017.

If the allegations prove true, this may seriously damage the credibility of the world’s largest and most reputable poker website. Mr Vayo now fights what he alleges to be a ‘‘pattern of fraudulent and unlawful conduct,’ but PokerStars is prepared to contest that allegation.

Vayo at the Helm of Investigations

Mr Vayo has been hot on the trail of PokerStars since 2011 when he first suspected that the Canada-based PokerStars had been running unjustified investigations with predictable income into players whom they suspected of failing to comply with laws and regulations.

The matter concerned chiefly US citizens. While nobody can fault PokerStars for their interest in whom they are paying the money out to, Mr Vayo claims that the website has been forcing US players to prove that they had not won from within the United States where online gambling, and poker, are strictly regulated, and banned in most states.

Mr Vayo admitted to Forbes that he had been using a virtual private network or VPN for activities completely unrelated to his PokerStars forays. He instead travels to Ottawa where he participates in PokerStars events. He revealed his use of VPN for Forbes.

After winning the SCOOP tournament, Mr Vayo decided to keep his winnings on his virtual account and to continue playing for nearly two months. Upon attempting to cash out on 25 July 2017, PokerStars froze his account, requesting proof that Mr Vayo had indeed been in Canada at the time of the tournament.

Where Does the Doubt Stem From?

The contentious point, such as it is, comes from the fact that Mr Vayo used his VPN while in Ottawa, in his own words. PokerStars had been quick to pick on that and they wanted proof that at the time of the tournament he had indeed been located in Ottawa.

Mr Vayo had been quite blunt about the decision the website had taken. They wanted to avoid departing with a substantial sum of money.

PokerStars undertook an investigation into the affairs of Mr Vayo, including those of his friends on the network. The company requested numerous documents and proof over the course of nearly a year. After having informed him that the investigation had been concluded, Mr Vayo found out that he would not be paid. It was at that point he decided to engage in legal strife.

Oh Sweet Irony

What makes matters rather amusing is the fact that while Mr Vayo may have been officially denied payment he is still touted as the victor of the 2017 SCOOP event. PokerStars may still formally acknowledge that Mr Vayo has played within the country, if that is indeed, proven in court. Only the ensuing legal battle may settle matters now however.