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Emily D. Swoboda

Kahnawake Speaks

24 July 2008

Two days after a call to action by the Poker Players Alliance, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission on Wednesday released a statement addressing its lack of communication with the public about a second cheating scandal involving one of its online poker licensees.

According to the commission, which is located outside of Montreal, over the past several months it has been involved in an in-depth investigation of the cheating allegations surrounding Ultimate Bet.

Having taken steps to remedy the situation, including ensuring that all affected players were reimbursed, it has also admitted to its shortcomings in the matter.

The commission said that while an investigation has been in full swing, the findings have not been well-communicated to the public or the online poker industry, leading to an incorrect perception of the company as having done "nothing."

When the first instance of cheating was discovered in October 2007 at Absolute Poker, the commission said it immediately began an inquiry, hiring Gaming Associates, a risk-management company in the United Kingdom and Australia, to conduct an audit of the operator.

Upon the conclusion of its investigation in January, the commission imposed sanctions on Absolute, including changes to management, a $500,000 fine and the reimbursement of all players affected by the cheating incident.

But since responding to further allegations of cheating in March at Ultimate Bet, Absolute's sister site, the commission has been, by and large, mum on the details of its second investigation.

In June, the commission announced that it had ordered Ultimate Bet to reimburse the account holders affected by the cheaters, but otherwise, it has done little else by way of publicizing details.

Not surprisingly, Wednesday's statement comes two days after Alfonse D'Amato, chair of the Poker Players Alliance, released a statement calling for transparency from the commission.

The cheating scandals, said the former Senator from New York, stand to undermine efforts to regulate Internet gambling in the United States.

"Trust is paramount in poker," Mr. D'Amato said. "Sadly, this foundation has been undercut by admissions from two well-known online poker companies, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet, that cheating has occurred on their poker sites.

"Because of the current legal uncertainties and the lack of federal regulation and oversight, it is especially troubling when cheating occurs in online poker," he continued. "This has created an untenable atmosphere and has denied the proper means to investigate allegations, administer due process and then apply appropriate penalties for the wrongdoers.

"We urge these companies and their regulating authority, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, to provide a full and transparent accounting of these breaches of the public trust to help lift the black cloud that has been placed over the industry."

While the commission has not specified whether it was responding to the P.P.A. statement, it said Wednesday that it is ready to issue a decision on the Ultimate Bet investigation.

"The KGC's investigation into the Ultimate Bet matter has yielded a number of key findings which, within the next several days, will enable the KGC to issue its decision on the appropriate steps to be taken," the commission said.

Kahnawake Speaks is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda