A high-stakes lawsuit pitting 2016 WSOP main event runner-up Gordon Vayo against the world’s leading online poker site could eventually involve more plaintiffs, according to the lawyer representing Vayo.
Early this month, Vayo filed a civil complaint against PokerStars in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleging fraud for withholding payment of a nearly $700,000 tournament score from May 2017. PokerStars, which controls around 70 percent of the global online poker market, believed, according to the suit, that Vayo had played the tournament from within the United States, which has been forbidden since U.S. authorities cracked down on internet poker in April 2011. Vayo’s 29-page lawsuit alleges that PokerStars confiscates winnings “with impunity” after conducting “sham investigation[s]” into a player’s whereabouts only after they win a lot of money. He alleges that this has happened to other online poker players.
Vayo claims he was in Canada when he won the tournament, where he is a registered player on the site, and argues that PokerStars is unable to prove that he wasn’t.
PokerStars declined comment on “pending litigation” to OnlinePokerReport, but did say the “investigation into this particular matter is ongoing.” Vayo’s suit claims that PokerStars told him on April 7, 2018 that the investigation into his location during the tournament was finished and that he would not be able to cash out the money. He filed suit less than a month later.
PokerStars defended itself by saying it has “a duty to protect the integrity of the game.”
To bolster his allegations, Vayo claims that an unnamed “Player A” had a similar issue with a roughly $140,000 tournament score, but PokerStars “finally relented” and cashed him or her out.
Greg Fayer, Vayo’s attorney, told Card Player that the case is just getting started, and that there could be a class action lawsuit, depending on the results of the discovery phase.
“We will certainly monitor the situation to determine whether a class action might be appropriate,” Fayer said. “At this point we do not want to add anything beyond what we have stated in our complaint. However, we are monitoring the situation and look forward to the discovery phase of the case when the extent of PokerStars conduct will be brought to light.”