Gordon Vayo, a poker pro who has over $6 million in total live earnings has filed a complaint against PokerStars for refusing to pay him his $692,460 prize money for winning the 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker Tournament Series (SCOOP) Event #1-High $1,050 No Limit Hold’em.
The lawsuit contains a number of allegations on top of the unpaid winnings, including fraud and deceit, false advertising, breaking the Lanham Act, violation of right of publicity, promissory estoppel, unfair competition, and breach of written contract. Vayo’s complaint comes after going back and forth with PokerStars for the last 12 months. The online poker giant has refused to pay him after they insisted that he might have been playing from the US during one point of timer during the SCOOP.
PokerStars has stopped offering its services to US citizens ever since 2011 and is currently licensed to operate only in New Jersey. Players outside New Jersey are not allowed to access PokerStars. US players residing outside America should have no problem accessing PokerStars as long as their country of residence does not prohibit online gambling activities.
Vayo was one of the US players permitted back into the site in 2013 when he applied to play as a part-time resident of Canada. PokerStars granted him his request and Vayo has been active on the site ever since.
The 2017 SCOOP held in May 2017 was the biggest payout Vayo has ever won from the site. After his victory, the winnings were immediately posted on his PokerStars online account, although he did not immediately cash them out and continued playing tournaments and cash games from his account.
Two months after the 2017 SCOOP, Vayo decided to withdraw the money and received a surprise on July 25 when he received a notice that his account has been frozen due to suspicious activity.
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PokerStars Wants Proof To Payout
PokerStars has claimed that there is a possibility that Vayo was playing in the US during the competition, and that he should provide proof that he was indeed in Canada for the whole duration of the tournament. Although Vayo submitted proof of his whereabouts during the competition, PokerStars maintained their stance that it was still “not inconceivable” that Vayo was not playing from the US during the 2017 SCOOP and thus did not release his winnings.
In a statement, Vayo said,
I am deeply disappointed it has come to this, but I feel that taking legal action is necessary to protect my rights as well as those of other PokerStars players who are in my situation, but may not have the means to get their message out and protect themselves against the unwarranted bullying tactics that I have experienced during this ordeal.