Nevada, New Jersey Welcome Former Ultimate Bet Brass
Individuals with links to Ultimate Bet (UB), the poker operator that oversaw one of the most nefarious scandals in the history of the poker industry, will soon be in operation in both Nevada and New Jersey, according to recent reports.
Borgata, which uses bwin.party as its online poker operator in New Jersey, is making the switch to Pala Interactive, Martyn Hannah of eGR North America reported — note the linked article is behind a paywall. Pala's Chief Executive Officer is Jim Ryan, who also served as CEO of UB's parent company, Exscapa. The switch will reportedly be made "by the end of the second quarter."
Borgata operates the leading online poker room in New Jersey, totaling more than $31 million in revenue since launch and leading second-place Caesar's in each calendar month of 2015.
As such, bwin.party reps are apparently not conceding the lucrative Borgata contract. Hannah quoted one rep as saying there has been "no change" in the company's relationship with Borgata as parent company GVC Holdings awaits licensing in the state. The popular casino has used bwin.party as its online poker provider since launching.
Ryan claims to have left his role as CEO in 2006, before the infamous superuser scandal at UB broke, at which point he said he was acting as merely a court-appointed inspector.
Chris Grove of OnlinePokerReport noted in a thread on TwoPlusTwo that without court involvement in the UB scandal, regulators have a tricky situation to deal with as far licensing companies prominently featuring former UB employees. Nonetheless, Ryan's involvement in the New Jersey online poker scene will undoubtedly be of interest to a number of users, at the very least.
Also of note according to the same TwoPlusTwo thread, Pala's Chief Technical Officer is Uri Kozai, who served as a programmer at UB and reportedly created the algorithm that determined how much to refund players who were victimized in the scandal.
The report regarding Ryan marks the second time in the past week that former UB brass has made headlines in the regulatory realm. Iovation, a company headed by former UB CEO Greg Pierson, recently applied for a license to provide geolocation services in Nevada.
In a hearing on Feb. 18, the Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended conditional approval (see page seven), although one member of the board did vote against. The conditions noted for the Oregon-based company include a limit to providing geolocation services only.
Pierson's checkered past doesn't seem to be a sticking point in the least for Nevada regulators, as Iovation previously provided services for Ultimate Poker before player backlash caused the site to cut ties.