Gordon Vayo’s Failed Lawsuit Against PokerStars Is A Cautionary Tale

Steve Ruddock November 20, 2018 1026 Reads
PokerStars Vayo

The high-profile legal battle between PokerStars and professional poker player Gordon Vayo took an interesting turn last week.

After adamantly professing his innocence, Vayo voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit he filed in May. The dismissal comes after PokerStars accused him of submitting forged documents to in order to corroborate his claims.

With the dismissal acting as a tacit admission of guilt, PokerStars filed its own suit against Vayo to recover court costs and damages.

Quick backstory on the case

The original suit stems from a May 2017 online poker tournament in which Vayo cashed for over $600,000.

Following his victory, PokerStars accused Vayo of breaking its terms and conditions by using a VPN to mask his location in order to play in the tournament.

Vayo disputed the claim and eventually filed suit against PokerStars.

You can take a deeper dive into the case via these links:

The new details

In a November 12 court filing, PokerStars presented what appears to be a smoking gun.

According to the documents, PokerStars received a tip from a third party and was able to directly contact the person who allegedly forged documents for Vayo in an effort to corroborate he was in Canada during the SCOOP tournament.

The new court filing reads in part:

… Mr. Vayo first sent REEL purported evidence that he had played from Canada, and then sued REEL to recover his winnings (claiming in the process that REEL’s user license agreement should be nullified). But Vayo’s “evidence” was forged, and he had used it to attempt to defraud REEL and this Court.

As soon as REEL discovered the forgery and confronted Vayo about it, Vayo voluntarily and unconditionally dismissed this action, and his counsel withdrew. (Vayo’s new counsel has ignored REEL’s repeated requests to meet and confer, and has never denied the forgery, necessitating this motion.)

If the allegations are true, Vayo violated the T&C at PokerStars, repeatedly lied about it and filed a bogus lawsuit, and finished up with the very real crime of forging documents to commit fraud.

This is where a parent would normally step in and utter something about lying and digging yourself into a deeper hole.

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A warning to other rule breakers

Beyond that, the case should be a wakeup call for other US-based online poker players currently violating the terms and conditions in order to access restricted sites from the US.

First, even if it didn’t stop him in real-time, PokerStars did catch Vayo’s unauthorized access (I’ll explain why in a moment).

Second, Vayo is facing some serious consequences. Not only is he out the $600k he won during the tournament, but he’s also staring down a six-figure countersuit from PokerStars, and there is a very real possibility that the forged documents could lead to more consequential legal problems.

All of these things should give other players that are under the impression “they’re getting away with it,” pause.

Geolocation technology is improving at a rapid pace

Robust geolocation technology as it pertains to online gambling didn’t really exist prior to the 2013 launch of regulated online gaming in the US.

That’s no longer the case.

VPNs that once fooled online poker sites are no longer enough (assuming the site in question wants to catch violators).  Nothing is 100 percent, but gaining access to regulated, geo-restricted online gaming sites is no longer a simple, or cheap endeavor.

In the US, any minor anomaly will trigger a denial of access.

At an October 17 hearing in Illinois, Lindsay Slader, the vice president of regulatory affairs at GeoComply, testified that the company checks up to 350 different data points to verify a person’s location.

Couple that with the robust regulations in a state like New Jersey, and unauthorized access is all but eliminated.

Follow the breadcrumbs

Other jurisdictions might not be as strict as the US or work with a company as technically proficient as GeoComply, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t vigilant or lack the tools to identify red flags for further investigation.

In addition to any real-time detection, companies have the capability to run a forensic audit. If triggered, a forensic audit will track your log-in locations and many other data points over an extended period of time. If the story that unfolds doesn’t make sense, which is what seems to have happened in Vayo’s case, there’s a good chance you’ll be caught.

Even if you think you’re location spoofing is flying under the radar, there’s a good chance you’re on the company’s geolocation watch list.

Further, with costly gaming licenses on the line, and regulators to answer to, companies are taking these transgressions far more seriously and devoting more time and resources to sniffing them out.