The world's largest information provider of poker tournament results has succumbed to the pressure from both regulators and players, and it will now allow its users to delete, or at least rename, their accounts.
The Hendon Mob apparently has not made any official announcements about this change last week; however, users are now allowed to either change the alias on their account so that others will not know who it is, or if they would like to do so, they can delete their user account entirely.
This move has come to light in response to a new set of laws created by the European Union known as General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The new statutes, which were passed in May 25, aim to protect the data privacy information for residents of the 28 EU states.
Even if Hendon Mob looks like it is playing it safe and succumbing to the new regulations, there are still lots of questions as to whether the poker-results listing website is essentially collecting and displaying private data.
Invasion of Privacy or Not?
The website's main objective is to collect and display tournament results that come from the poker tournaments, events and casinos as well as the companies that run them.
However, for some individuals like German poker pro Armin "schmette" Mette, that equates to an invasion of privacy, and he wrote in a 2+2 forum thread, "After years of abusive data-collection, Hendon Mob is now forced ... to delete your accounts if you want to."
The Hendon Mob's poker content manager Roland Boothby responded "Not so" and explained that the site is simply aggregating data that has already been publicly released by the poker tours and casinos. He retorted, "By publishing the results and pay outs of major tournaments, Hendon Mob is no more guilty of ‘abusive data-collection' then the APT or the PGA."
Boothby continued on to say that it is "deeply sad" to see some players rejoicing to the fact that a significant blow was dealt to a small business so that certain people can reap benefits.
There will always be two sides to a coin, and this topic of poker results privacy is no exception. While some are commending the increased privacy features, most poker players are mentioning the irrational logic behind the newly implemented rules. One poster in the 2+2 forum wrote, "So it's fine for the World Poker Tour to publish results of their tournaments. But a no-no if I write a blog summarizing those results?"
Another forum poster wrote, "When you register a tournament in a casino it should be expected for your name to appear in chip counts lists, in blog posts, and possibly in pictures and live streams. I think finding loopholes around this is an unreasonable expectation of privacy in a context where it doesn't make sense to expect it in any form."
On Twitter another player said, "Poker is no different than any other open competition. Results are public domain."
Another player thinks otherwise, as he wrote in the forum, "Because grownups with real jobs might not want it public that they play poker. Or how much they've won / how often they play... People should be allowed to play poker and not have it posted to the Internet for everyone to see. I am a huge fan of this move. I've personally been asked by employers about it because all you see when you Google me are poker results. And even though players see poker differently, you have to consider public perception, and that 99% of people don't consider it a legitimate game of skill or intellect but just gambling, and that doesn't look good to a lot of people."
Acquired by the Global Poker Index (GPI) in 2013, the Hendon Mob website gathers results from many casinos as well as poker tournaments and events. The site currently holds profiles of nearly 560,000 players, information on 368,732 events, and over 2.5 million results. The site was founded by UK poker pros Ram Vaswani, Joe Beevers, and brothers Barney and Ross Boatman in 2000.
Of course, The Hendon Mob isn't the only website that collects and displays data from poker tourneys. There are other websites that display similar databases for the entire world to see; however, since they are not based in the EU, then there's really no need for them to change their privacy policies anytime in the near future.
Companies based in the EU that do not follow the new regulations can be penalized as high as $23 million (€20 million or £16.5 million).
Applies to European Players Only
Take note that the new regulations only apply to European players, who can request to Hendon Mob administrators via email support that their existing account be renamed with a nickname, or they can delete their account entirely, should they choose to do so.
On the other hand, this means that Hendon Mob may not delete accounts for US players.
It is strongly believed that several European-based poker players were not happy that the Hendon Mob site was bringing unwanted extra attention from the taxman. For instance, it has been reported in the past that Israeli tax authorities have used sites such as The Hendon Mob to keep track of poker tax cheats and bring them to justice.
Also, another possibility is that European poker players do not like their results be publicized simply because they don't want their backers to know about it.