Phil Ivey agreed to represent Pala Interactive as its brand ambassador. Pala Interactive is a joint venture between the Pala Band of the Mission Indians and Jim Ryan, who is the former CEO of bwin.party. The company hopes to offer online poker and casino games in the California online poker market should it ever be legalized. It will use Realtime Edge Software.
There are several interesting side stories involving this deal.
Jim Ryan Past with Ultimate Bet
Jim Ryan is not only the former CEO of bwin.party, he was also the CEO of Ultimate Bet (UB) during its cheating scandal. Ryan was mentioned several times during a conversation recorded by Russ Hamilton where Ultimate Bet discussed how to cover up the cheating scandal. It is clear in the tapes that Ryan was aware that insiders used a software exploit to steal from players and the company went to great lengths to hide the cheating while Ryan was at the helm.
Realtime Edge Software
Realtime Edge Software powers the ClubWPT subscription site. This software uses the former UB platform. It has been alleged that it is exactly the same version of the UB software that was used by Russ Hamilton to cheat UB players. It appears that some of the cheating code has been removed but the ability to add it later likely remains.
Scott Bell has suggested that Realtime Edge founder Uri Kozai, who was onetime a programmer for UB, was involved in a scheme to use the UB software. Kozai was also the main investigator that came up with the player refund numbers after the UB cheating scandal.
Bell states that Kozai approached the bankrupt Excapsa company, the former parent company of Ultimate Bet, with a proposal to buy the software. He suggests that Kozai, Russ Hamilton (the admitted UB cheater) and Greg Pierson (iovation CEO that participated in the cheating cover up and has been accused of far more) took this software to develop the product that eventually became ClubWPT, but never paid the shareholders for it. Through a third party, it was also alleged that Jim Ryan allowed Russ Hamilton to walk away with a copy of the software.
The subscription online poker company was later sold, but Realtime Edge is still its software provider. The eventually owner of the subscription site was Party Gaming, where Jim Ryan was CEO at the time, and the same software used to cheat under his watch at UB was also used at Party Gaming. A merger between bwin and Party Gaming created the current bwin.party company.
Proposed California Bad Actor Clause
All proposed California online poker regulations include a bad actor clause. The bill proposed by Pala and seven other California tribes covers both individuals and entities:
A person or entity of good character, honesty, and integrity similar to those requirements currently mandated for state licensure to participate in gambling activities.
A licensee shall not utilize any brand or business name, (including any derivative brand name with the same or similar wording) trade or service mark, software, technology, operational systems, customer information, or other data acquired, derived, or developed directly or indirectly from any operation that has accepted any wager from persons in California on any form of Internet gaming prior to the date of enactment of the act adding this chapter or that would be otherwise unsuitable pursuant to this chapter.
To the extent any business relationships or financial arrangements were utilized or existed to further any such illegal Internet gambling, those relationships and arrangements shall be discontinued.
Presumably, Realtime Edge plans on using the same software with Pala Interactive as it uses with ClubWPT. This software included some of the UB cheating code. A Two Plus Two poster using the handle Dougmanct created a YouTube video showing some of the connections. He explains it further in this post. One of the original UB software developers worked for Realtime Edge after his UB days. This makes the inclusion of the cheating code in the ClubWPT software even more puzzling.
An online poker bill that the Pala Band of the Mission Indians is a cosponsor of would at the very least forbid the only known poker software owned by Realtime Edge from ever being used. The management team and owners also have past affiliation with the company involved in the largest insider cheating scandal in the history of online poker and the cover up that followed.
Jim Ryan’s involvement is even more baffling. Ryan was CEO of Excapsa, the former parent company of UB. He was the company’s leader during its insider cheating scandal, its cover up and its acceptance of U.S. players after the UIGEA went into law. Anyone with that type of resume is certain to get questioned by any legitimate licensing board.
It seems that if there were ever “bad actors” in the online poker world it would be the former management team and software of UB.
Pokerfuse Pro was also a source for this article.