ROLL ON: After Service Interruption, Online Poker Operators Announce Refund Procedures

Sean Chaffin October 27, 2020
Online poker operators have reached out to players after last Thursday's service interruptions.

Online poker sites have reached out to US players to remedy some issues surrounding a geolocation last week. Players around the country experienced a service interruption last Thursday night that left many unable to play.

While the issues were brief, many tournament players experienced being locked out as blind levels escalated. 

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Poker sites look to refund players

While events at WSOP.com and PokerStars continued, partypoker US Network was able to pause tournaments that were underway. Players in tournaments at partypoker (as well as the BetMGM and BorgataPoker.com skins) that had been going for over an hour received auto settlements.

Tournaments in progress under an hour on partypoker continued after the delay. Some players at the other two sites reported being blinded off during the one-hour outage. This could have affected a possible higher finish, many noted.

Brandon Patterson of Altoona, Penn., was one of those. After playing deep in two tournaments on PokerStars, the poker client suddenly locked him out of play. When able to play again, Patterson min-cashed but may have won more if not for the service interruption.

“I was right in the middle of the field right before the money and got blinded out,” he said.

WSOP.com, PokerStars reach out to users

On Monday, WSOP.com announced that the issue affected more than 1,000 players. The site is in the process of refunding players.

“It is unfortunate there was a statewide issue with one of iGaming’s key vendors, which interrupted service for most New Jersey online poker operators for 45 minutes on Thursday night,” World Series of Poker executive director Ty Stewart said. “We view it as an isolated incident and will look to process the appropriate compensation to impacted players in short order.”

PokerStars offered an explanation to players in New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Friday. The site encouraged those affected to reach out to customer service if there hadn’t been a resolution in their situation.

“PokerStars in PA and NJ experienced some technical issues for around an hour last night that resulted in some players having difficulty accessing their accounts,” PokerStars senior public relations manager Moya Wilson said. “We are, of course, currently looking into fairly compensating those players who were affected and reviewing ways to better mitigate this sort of issue in future.”

Geolocation error causes lockouts for gamblers

The issues arose last week about 9 p.m. (ET) last Thursday after a geolocation error. Legal US online poker sites make use of a technology company called GeoComply to make sure players are in a legal jurisdiction.

The system locks anyone recognized as outside a legal state. Players reported seeing their avatar still at the poker table, but weren’t able to complete any actions.

GeoComply reported that the interruptions were part of “an issue that temporarily affected the communication systems within our datacenter.”

“Last night we encountered an unexpected network communications error, which our team responded to and remedied immediately,” GeoComply Vice President of Government Relations Elizabeth Cronan told USPoker. “We have alerted all affected clients and they are aware of the issue and the steps that were taken to resolve it as quickly as possible.”

The interruption also affected sports betting and other online casino gaming. Unlike many gamblers, the lockouts  particularly affected poker tournament players with money still in an event’s prize pool.

Similar errors happened occasionally when regulated online gambling first launched in the US. However, these types of issues now remain rare. Players were glad to see the issue lasted only a short time and refunds issues resolved.

Reaching out for help

Those who may have been affected and think they are in for a refund may want to reach out to customer support. Here’s some information to do that:

  • Partypoker US Network (New Jersey) – Email [email protected].
  • PokerStarsUSA (New Jersey and Pennsylvania) – Visit the customer service page and submit a concern via the contact form. Players can also message @StarsSupport on Twitter.
  • WSOP.com (New Jersey and Nevada) – Email [email protected] or call 1-866-745-2385.
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