By RP, August 7, 2014
The apparent failure of the Malta regulator Lotteries and Gaming Authority to ensure that player funds are segregated from operational finances at licensee operators, and the consequent prejudice to players when these operators fail, is likely to be front-and-centre at next year’s International Casino Expo if player activists have their way.
Discussions on several player forums regarding what they see as inadequate actions by the LGA have focused on the Everleaf Poker situation, now two years old and still frustrating players burned in the debacle (see previous reports).
The more militant players are agitating for a demonstration at next year’s ICE show in London to draw attention to what they consider to be an intolerable situation, and the languid and unsatisfactory manner in which the LGA is allegedly handling it.
Following a Malta government investigation into the affair, instigated by player pressure according to some accounts, there has still been no public release of the results, further inflaming the situation
Mario Galea, who headed the LGA at the time of the crisis, has since moved on and been replaced by Joseph Cuschieri, who has made encouraging noises indicating his support for the concept and enforcement of a segregated accounts policy, for which there is already provision in the LGA regulations.
Cuschieri has also publicly promised that the Everleaf crisis – and the monies owed to players by Everleaf – will be resolved, acknowledging that the issue is a test of the LGA’s credibility and must be successfully addressed.
He further recently revealed that the regulator has called in the Malta police to assist with international warrants in the pursuit of the owners of Everleaf.
In the meantime, the LGA could tap a Malta account which is in part funded by unclaimed winnings and currently has a reported positive balance of Euro 3.5 million, although this has been primarily earmarked for online gambling education and combating problem gambling.
Cuschieri’s assurances and appeals for continued patience by the players may be falling on ears deafened by the frustration of a two-year wait…and the activists are working on the assumption that this could be enough to persuade players to join in demonstrating at one of the industry’s prime exposure spaces to draw media attention to their plight.