A high-stakes class action lawsuit is looming on the world of online poker, and it's about 2016 WSOP main event runner-up Gordon Vayo versus PokerStars, the world's top online poker website. Vayo's lawyer Gregory Fayer says the suit eventually could involve more plaintiffs.
Earlier this month, on May 2, 2018, Gordon Vayo filed a civil complaint against the giant poker site's operational business entity, Rational Entertainment Enterprises Limited (REEL), in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, accusing them of fraud for withholding payment of $692,460, his tournament prize that he won on May 2017. In fact, his achievement on that tournament was no secret, as it's even featured on the PokerStars blog site.
According to the suit, PokerStars believed that Vayo played the tournament from inside the United States, which has been forbidden since U.S. authorities cracked down on online poker in April 2011 (Black Friday). Vayo's 29-page lawsuit states that PokerStars, "with impunity" confiscates winnings after conducting "sham investigations(s)" into the whereabouts of a player only after they have won a lot of money. He claims that this has also happened to other online poker players.
Vayo claims he was in Canada the whole time he was playing in the tournament. Canada is the place where he is a registered player on the site, and he contests that PokerStars is unable to prove that he wasn't.
PokerStars say the "investigation into this particular matter is ongoing." Vayo's lawsuit claims that on April 7, 2018, PokerStars informed him that the investigation into his location during the tournament was over and that he was not allowed to cash out the money. On May 2, Vayo filed a legal action against them.
In its defense, PokerStars say it has "a duty to protect the integrity of the game".
To boost his allegations, Vayo says an unnamed "Player A" had the same problem with around a $140,000 tournament win, but PokerStars "finally relented" and eventually cashed him/her out.
Attorney Fayer said the case is just getting started, and depending on the results of the discovery stage, there is a high possibility of a class action lawsuit. He said, "We will certainly monitor the situation to determine whether a class action might be appropriate. At this point we do not want to add anything beyond what we have stated in our complaint. However, we are monitoring the situation and look forward to the discovery phase of the case when the extent of PokerStars conduct will be brought to light."
REEL has 21 days to respond to this complaint. Failure to respond could result in a summary judgment in Vayo's favor.
Note: More updates to follow as the story unfolds..