This article was written after a conversation, and e-mail exchanges, with a player that remains anonymous in order to protect his name. The story about misconduct by the Lottery and Gambling Authority (LGA) and Everleaf Gaming Ltd. was written in an attempt to find more victims and raise awareness of both the LGA and Everleaf Gaming Ltd.’s misconduct.
The online poker landscape is gritty, it’s a tough place to survive and make an honest living. Before the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet scandal, online poker seemed just fun and games – and a serious living for some. Before Black Friday we all thought online poker would always be there.
We were wrong, because online poker is not just fun and games and the fact that it’s even still there in some parts of the world is more surprising than not. Over the next decade we will see more countries amend their policies on the game that has passed its peak, but will now remain a feature in the current-day spectrum of online games.
The biggest reality check for online poker players and providers was without a doubt April 15 2011. The Department of Justice (DOJ) shutdown online poker in the United States and created a mayhem of questions on the message boards and in international media. Would online poker ever come back? Would the affected players ever get their funds? How could this be prevented in the future?
The immensely popular game came to a screeching halt in its biggest market and a lot of dirt was exposed. The illegal gambling business operated by many, was brought to the eyes of the world.
Black Friday a Good Thing?
Looking back on it now it almost seems like that move by the DOJ saved all poker-loving Americans going forward. In the years to come there’s still plenty of progress to be made, but the baby steps (Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey launching online poker) are positive signs.
The following case has nothing to do with the illegal business and unregulated games, or does it?
The case we’re about to dig into shows a lot of similarities with the pre-Black Friday poker landscape in the United Stated. The only difference is, it’s regulated, controlled and kept under supervision of an independent entity.
The question that will immediately rise after reading this article is; how independent is this entity? This is something we’re not sure of just yet, but let this be an indication that the road towards a clean and righteous online poker landscape is still very far away.
After this lengthy introduction, it’s time to start from the beginning of this case, brought to our attention by a recreational Finnish poker player. Bear in mind that there have been countless problems with Everleaf in recent history posted on forums like TwoPlusTwo. However, this case does not only bring more Everleaf problems to the attention, but also misconduct by the LGA.
Everleaf Steals €50,000
A year ago, early in 2012, an interesting development took place when the player in question was waiting for a pending cash out to be processed. Shortly before that, Everleaf had decided to change their terms and conditions with regards to cashing out. On February 27th 2012 the player requested a cash out worth €29,000 and Everleaf’s new terms and conditions state that a player can only withdraw €3,000 per month. At the same time Everleaf still offered €100/€200 cash games, stakes where swings of €100,000 are not uncommon.
“It was so unfair because there was not option to cash out before having to agree to these new terms. You had to agree to the new terms and conditions to access your account and therefore it could take someone years to get all their money out,” the player said.
The story gets way worse when, on top of the cash out problems, a large sum of money goes missing.
The player in question noticed €50,000 was stolen from his online poker account on one of the skins hosted by Everleaf Gaming. The funds went missing after a five-day period in which the player in question did not log onto his account (August 18-25 2012).
“It was a shock for me, of course, to log onto my account and find out my money was stolen,” the player said.
“It became clear, and you can see that in the documents, that nobody hacked my account. The thief was an insider and I took screenshots of my account to prove what happened. Someone had made transfers to- and from my account €10,000 at a time until they took all the money that was on there.”
“I contacted Everleaf about the fact that there was money stolen from my account. They did not respond to my messages but they did proceed to lock my account. I contacted a lawyer and sent a Letter of Demand to both Everleaf and the LGA,” the player continued an attempt to get his money back.
The Letter of Demand was set on August 29th, and Everleaf was given until September 5th to return the money. The Letter of Demand states the following.
“If Everleaf Gaming Ltd. in partnership with X will not return the transferred 50,000 euros back to the account of player X by the 5th of September 2012 and will not return the right of player X to log onto his own account, legal actions against Everleaf Gaming Ltd. in partnership with X will be initiated.”
You can read the entire Letter of Demand, including the aforementioned screenshots, here.
“A short while after I sent the Letter of Demand I got in touch to the chief of the skin I was playing on. He explained to me what happened and promised that the money would be back in my account in a few weeks.”
In January 2013 only a part of the money had been returned to him.
Everleaf Not Responding
“I contacted player support and send tens of emails to Everleaf and the skin and tried to get my money back, but they just kept on passing me back and forth. They blamed each other and keep saying that the other is responsible. Finally they offered me a deal that I could get a better rakeback deal or I could get €1000 in my account every month until the amount was paid back.”
The player had no intention to ever play on this skin or network ever again so he chose the €1,000 per month. This meant that his stolen money would be returned in full two years after the money was stolen. Today there’s still €10,000 that has not been returned.
Interestingly enough the money that was returned, including his pending cash out from 2012, could not be withdrawn to his bank account. Obviously, the player was not satisfied and he complained to the LGA.
“The new terms and conditions are in conflict with the European and Maltese gaming legislation. The Maltese gaming legislation says that all winnings have to be paid precise and within a reasonable timeframe,” the player said.
Broken Rules and LGA's Questionable Attitude
The player in question sent a Letter Of Demand, written by his lawyer, to the LGA, bringing Everleaf’s misconduct to the attention; you can read that full letter here. Also, the rules that have been broken by Everleaf are pointed out in this PDF.
The player in question has joined a group on Facebook called “Everleaf Players Coalition” where issues with the Everleaf Gaming Ltd. are being discussed.
“They answered that they had received the Letter Of Demand. After that for over six months I tried to get in contact with the LGA, calling and e-mailed them numerous times, but not once did they answer my calls and emails. When calling, I kept being given the same excuses. According to the secretary LGA’s Player Support Manager (Frances Blenheim) was always on a break, at lunch or in a meeting, even if you called there the whole day long. I left tens of call-back requests but not a single one was answered,” the angry player said.
“In June 2013, after six months of trying, I finally got a chance to talk to Ms. Blenheim. I explained the situation and told her I wanted to speak to the chairman of the LGA. She told me that she would talk about it and get back to me within a week. I expressed that if they would not get back to me I would start a legal case and go to the media with this story.”
The LGA never contacted the player in question. They finally canceled Everleaf’s gaming license on July 29th after player filed judicial protest against Everleaf. Pokerfuse wrote an excellent article about the long overdue cancelation of Everleaf’s license, where you can read that there have been many problems with this same company. Strangely enough the Everleaf website still has the LGA’s stamp of approval, but when clicking on the “our partners” you can tell that almost every single one of those websites is no longer online.
The negligence by both the LGA and Everleaf is rising to epic proportions.
The Times of Malta website published a story on August 13th titled “LGA audit follows claims of ‘gross negligence’”. The most important paragraph from this story read as following:
Promises of Everleaf Audits
“Once the audit results are out, in a matter of weeks, the board of directors will be in a position to take a number of decisions to strengthen the LGA’s reputation if the need is so felt,” a member of the Maltese government said.
Up until today, November 8th 2013, there have been no publications made about Everleaf audits by the LGA. What the LGA did do is appoint a new chairman two days ago on November 6th. A story published by the same website, the Malta Independent can be found here.
“Another player wronged by Everleaf got in contact with Frances Blenheim of the LGA recently and she said that Everleaf is now part of an ongoing criminal investigation. It seems like the LGA is now trying to put all the blame on Everleaf. Even though Everleaf has made a lot of huge mistakes it is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the LGA knew about Everleaf’s problems for a year and a half and allowed this to happen. The LGA knew for over a year that Everleaf did not pay winnings to the players and they still allowed Everleaf to acquire new customers. The LGA is supposed to be there to protect the players, but you can look up a lot of cases over the last few years where nothing was done to help. A Maltese lawyer told me that the LGA has a bad track record when it comes to handling complaints.”
The player in question told us that he and his lawyer are awaiting the audit by the Maltese government before continuing their legal procedure. For now nothing happens, even though the player was ready to sue months ago. The Everleaf Players Coalition wants to sue both the LGA and Everleaf as a group because there are so many similar cases right now.
Maltese Media Backing Off?
“It now looks like the LGA is just buying time hoping that the dust settles on this big case. Someone in Malta also seems to control the media as a reporter of the Times of Malta promised me a detailed story about my case, but they never did. When I contacted him he told me that they decided to put the story on hold for reasons he cannot disclose.”
In the e-mail exchange with reporter of Times of Malta, which was shown to us, it states that story was put on hold. The player that we spoke to did not give up and also contacted the Malta Independent.
“The same thing happened with the Malta Independent. First they promised me to write two stories; first the brief summary and in the second one there was going to be some questions to the new Chairman of the LGA reviewing this case. They did publish a short summary, but after that the more detailed story never came out. They said it would be online next Sunday, but that’s two weeks ago now. I even had an e-mail conversation with them but they never responded to any of my messages. It looks like someone in Malta is trying to prevent these ugly details from public evaluation,” the player said.
For now this situation remains unsolved and even though the player in question has €56,300 in his account as of right now, he still has not been able to cash out a single euro.
“For over a year I could access my account but there was no way I could withdraw it. They were paying the money back to my account, €1,000 at a time, but there was nothing I could do with that. I explained this to the LGA so many times but they didn’t do anything.”
“The LGA can try to hide all these stories as long as they want, but eventually they cannot avoid their responsibility. Huge streams of revenue flow to Malta because of the gaming industry, so at some point they will have to do something about these problems. The only thing they have to do is regulate online gaming and offer customers safe environment to play, yet they do such a poor job.”
A Pending Lawsuit
“My story is just one story though. There are tens of players who have also been neglected by the LGA. We have contacted ministers of Malta and lots of different EU organizations and parliament members and we will continue until we get the our money back.”
“We wait for the results of the audit and if it does not bring our money back we will start a legal process against Everleaf and LGA,” the player closed out with.
It’s very clear right now that both Everleaf and the LGA are not being very forthcoming with new information. The LGA has suspended Everleaf’s gaming license and the promised audits by the Maltese government have not been carried out yet.
When new updates are available regarding this case we will release those right here on iGaming.org.