Gordon Vayo, a poker professional with over $6 million in career earning, is suing PokerStars for not paying him $700k in winnings during the 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker (2017 SCOOP) Tournament Series. PokerStars refused to pay Vayo, because he was playing from inside the United States, which is a violation of the law.

Vayo claims he has proof that he was in Canada during the entire time he was playing in the SCOOP tournament. According to the legal brief, PokerStars has paid other winners who competed within Canada’s borders.

The suit, which is filed int he U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, charges PokerStars with counts of fraud and deceit, breach of contract, and false advertisements.

PokerStars released a statement on the California lawsuit which stated that Gordon Vayo’s verifiable whereabouts was insufficient, because it was still “not inconceivable” that the professional poker player was in the United States at some point during the tournaments. That was the position the world’s largest poker website maintained at the time it originally denied Vayo’s appeal to release his funds.

2017 SCOOP Lawsuit v. PokerStars

Gordon Vayo and his lawyers go well beyond simple bad faith in his case. The lawsuit charges that PokerStars has been operating in bad faith towards all American online poker players who take part in major online tournaments — or at least those who win big payouts.

The lawsuit charges PokerStars with advertising big guaranteed online poker prizes to US players. As long as the players lose or win a small payout, PokerStars takes their money and honors their play.

Gordon Vayo’s Charges Against PokerStars

According to legal filing, if a US player wins big cash, then PokerStars uses US law to avoid paying its competitors. Vayo’s lawsuit states that PokerStars has, “Engaged in a practice of approving U.S. citizens and residents for play on the PokerStars.com site, allowing and encouraging them to play on the site, happily taking their money — in many cases for years.”

“Then, after a U.S. citizen or resident wins a significant amountof money on the PokerStars.com site, Defendant conducts a sham investigation into the user’s activities and the location of the user’s access of the site, placing the onus on the player to retroactively prove that it is ‘inconceivable’ that his or her play could have originated from within the United States, in order to gin up a pretext to deny payment.”

If Gordon Vayo can prove his charges in a court of law, it would be a serious blow to PokerStars’ reputation. It is the kind of bait-and-switch American online poker players sometimes face when playing in unlicensed offshore poker sites.

Some gaming operators in the unregulated markets have a “Terms & Conditions” page with complicated terms of use, then they cite some T&C infraction to deny payment of winnings to players. The institution of a “review” or “audit” of the player’s conduct is the precursor to denial of payment. Such policies are the hallmark of a rogue site.

About Gordon Vayo

Gordon Vayo is a big name in the recent history of professional poker. He finished in 2nd Place at the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event, which accounts for a big chunk of his $6 million in career earnings.

The 30-year old professional player, who lives in Connecticut but graduated from University High School in Normal, Illinois, released a statement to the poker industry about his lawsuit. Vayo claimed he was protecting his rights, but also the rights of all other US poker players who compete in big tournaments on PokerStars.

Statements by Gordon Vayo, PokerStars

The statement read, “I am deeply disappointed it has come to this, but feel that taking legal action is necessary to protect my rights as well as those of other PokerStars players who are in my situation, but may not have the means to get their message out and protect themselves against the unwarranted bullying tactics that I have experienced during this ordeal.”

PokerStars declined to make a comment yet on the lawsuit, according to Forbes Online writer Darren Heitner, who is the author of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know. Heitner noted that PokerStars continues to tout Gordon Vayo’s player bio on its official blog, even though it denied payment to Gordon Vayo in the same tournament.

About the Author
April Bergman avatar
April Bergman

April Bergman was a longtime news blogger for BOC. She wrote gaming news posts from January 2013 until September 2018. April also wrote slot reviews, strategy articles, and online casino reviews for the site.

April Bergman began in the online gaming industry in August 2010. From 2010 to 2013, she managed evergreen content for several top online casino. Her duties included developing and maintaining multiple websites in the gaming space. When not writing about online gambling, April loves horse racing, travel, photography, and gardening. She's began in the business as a devoted poker players and spent several years as a card game editor on the now-defunct DMOZ. These days, she lives with her husband and two children in the Toronto metropolitan area.

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April Bergman was a longtime news blogger for BOC. She wrote gaming news posts from January 2013 until September 2018. April also wrote slot reviews, strategy articles, and online casino reviews for the site.

April Bergman began in the online gaming industry in August 2010. From 2010 to 2013, she managed evergreen content for several top online casino. Her duties included developing and maintaining multiple websites in the gaming space. When not writing about online gambling, April loves horse racing, travel, photography, and gardening. She's began in the business as a devoted poker players and spent several years as a card game editor on the now-defunct DMOZ. These days, she lives with her husband and two children in the Toronto metropolitan area.

READ MORE
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