Bwin.Party in Hot Water Again; Still Aiming for US Real Money Poker
Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment is one of the forerunners for launching one of the first online poker sites in Nevada. Up until now, all eyes were on the Silver State to see who would lay claim to the first real money poker room. Those eyes were suddenly averted on Tuesday when the company’s Co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger was brought in for questioning by Belgian authorities.
It would seem that Bwin.Party is not following the legislative guidelines of Belgium, which has explicitly forbidden the company from taking real money poker wagers from Belgian players. In early 2012, the government of Belgium bared a detailed list that banned specific real money poker sites from proffering their services within the country’s border. Though it did not initially get the axe, Bwin.Party’s name appeared on the blacklist in May.
Only acceptable online poker operators who go through the process of obtaining a license are permitted to do business in Belgium. Bwin.Party’s largest rival, PokerStars, is one such operator, legally licensed to present real money poker games to the region’s population of 11 million citizens.
According the Reuters, Teufelberger is being questioned in relation to the poker room’s continuance of unlicensed business in the region. Reuters news stated, “A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor said Bwin had previously been asked to come to Brussels, but didn’t do so. Authorities then acted after they became aware that Teufelberger would be in Brussels on Tuesday.”
Ironically enough, Teufelberger was in town on Tuesday to attend a ‘responsible gaming’ conference, where he was also a key speaker of the event. After his speech at the conference, the Co-CEO was approached by authorities and asked to attend an interview with local authorities to answer some questions; a request with which the company avers Teufelberger willingly complied.
When word of the Co-CEO’s interrogation began to emerge, the real money poker firm made a point to quell the inquisitive media with a brief but clarifying statement.
“In response to press reports this afternoon, the Group can confirm that Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEO, was requested to attend an interview with the Belgium authorities. He complied voluntarily with this request and is cooperating fully with the authorities”
Bwin.Party is lined up to provide its real money poker software to MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming, both expected to be among the first to launch online poker sites in Nevada. MGM Resorts is one of the world’s largest land-based casino operators; a client the poker software company would not be content to lose. Bwin.Party’s subsidiary, BP Gaming Entertainment Inc, has already applied for licensing in the Silver State.
However, Nevada state regulators do not look lightly upon real money poker operators and software development firms with a history of providing services in jurisdictions where law prohibits such activities. Thus it is unclear how Nevada will react to the current developments.
It should be pointed out that this is not Bwin’s first interlude with regional authorities. In 2006, Norbert Teufelberger was detained by authorities in France on similar allegations.