In his latest interesting and relevant blog observations, Microgaming’s head of poker, Alex Scott, explains his company’s policies and precautions on an issue of serious concern to the player community – the safety and separation of player funds by operators on his company’s MPN network..
Scott explains the operator-network interface, noting that the operator is responsible for interaction and the direct relationship with the player, operating on the technology and administration platform provided by the network.
The key point to remember, he writes, is that the network does not hold the player funds, which are the responsibility of the operators of the brands on the network; the operator has the relationship with the player, and it would therefore be inappropriate for Microgaming to hold player funds, or indeed even know what a player’s account balance may be.
What the network does do is act as a clearing house in what is essentially a reconciliation process where a player on one operator’s site loses (or wins) money to a player on another operator’s site on the network. Operators use this clearing house system to pay or demand money its players have won or lost.
But it is important to understand that the funds used are from the operators’ accounts and not directly from player accounts, and the operator remains responsible for ensuring that individual player accounts on his or her site are debited or credited when the reconciliation process has been concluded.
That said, in the case of the MPN, the network does play an indirect role in the protection of player funds through careful selection and vetting of the operators it will allow to use the network in the first place…in other words the probity and quality of the operator.
Scott says that operators who want to join the network are thoroughly checked in a process that not only looks at the funding and corporate structure of the applicant, but establishes who the beneficial owners are…the people who benefit from the company’s profits.
Part of the acceptance process is also concerned with a requirement that the operator has an online gambling licence issued by a reputable regulator, and – of critical importance to players -it advises that the operator protects player funds through a system of a trust or segregating player funds from operational funds.
The issue of segregation and protection of accounts has become a key area of concern among both players and regulators in recent times, and Scott notes that it is a matter addressed by the new British point-of-consumption laws, which require operators to advise their players on what measures they have introduced to shield them in the event of the enterprise going bust.
Microgaming’s poker chief deals at some length with the risks attendant on an operator going bankrupt, noting that the responsibility lies with the operator to provide protection to the player in the event of misfortune overtaking the enterprise.
Operators who do not make provision for failure leave their players unsecured and at risk in competition with other creditors in the event of failure, he writes.