GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 6 - September 2008

Poker Cleansing By Vin Narayanan If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, Who ya gonna call? If there’s something weird and it don’t look good, Who ya gonna call? In 1984, there was only one an- swer to this question – Ghost- busters! In the world of online gaming in 2008, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s (KGC) answer to that question is the Catania Con- sulting Group. Late this summer, the KGC charged the Catania Consulting Group with the task of investigat- ing Absolute Poker, UltimateBet and their parent company, Tok- wiro Enterprises, to ensure that the “superuser” scandals that engulfed the two sites during the past year had been put to bed. Like ghosts, “superusers” were able to see the hole cards of play- ers at their table, giving them a distinctly unfair advantage dur- ing play. Complaints about “superusers” first surfaced last September at Absolute Poker. After initially denying the existence of these accounts, Absolute Poker, along with the KGC, hired Gaming As- sociates, an independent auditor, to determine whether these ac- counts existed. They did. In fact, there were sev- enof them. AbsolutePoker closed the security breach, which they attributed to the work of a “high- ranking consultant,” and refund- ed any money lost to those ac- counts. The consultant was fired, the software hole was closed and the KGC fined Absolute Poker $500,000. Play was deemed safe and the matter appeared to be settled – until Absolute Poker’s sister site UltimateBet was beset by similar problems earlier this year. Initially, the UltimateBet inves- tigation followed the same sto- ryline as Absolute Poker’s. Ulti- mateBet confirmed that cheating hadoccurred,foundandremoved the code that enabled former em- ployees touse accounts that could see opponents’ hole cards and began refunding any money lost to those accounts. But in July, it discovered that the cheatingwent back to 2005 – prior to Tokwiro’s takeover of UltimateBet – and more accounts than were previ- ously reported were involved. Anger over the new UltimateBet revelations and suspicion over the KGC’s relationship with Tok- wiro’s owner, former Kahnawake Grand Chief Joe Norton, had the online poker community openly questioning the KGC. So the Commission turned to Catania Consulting for help. “The main purpose of the investi- gation is to ensure that the games offered to the public are fair and honest and that all player protec- tions as required by the Kahn- awake Gaming Regulations are being complied with, without ex- ception,” the KGC said in a state- ment. “The monitoring team will also be charged with verification that all those involved in the fraudu- lent activities in any manner, no matter how slight, have been or are removed from the licensee company and verifying that Ul- timate Bet and Absolute Poker have submitted to full compli- ance with the directives issued by the KGC and recommended by the independent monitor.” Catania Consulting is no stranger to the KGC, Internet gambling or the issues surrounding Abso- lute Poker and UltimateBet. The group’s president, Frank Catania, is a former U.S. Assistant At- torney General. He helped write the KGC’s interactive gaming regulations and Antigua’s inter- Poker Cleansing The Kahnawake Gaming Commission hired the Catania Consulting Group to ensure that play at UltimateBet and Absolute Poker is fair and clean. In this exclusive interview, Catania Consulting sits down with the GPWA Times to discuss its probe. 35 | GPWA Times