POKER

Has Merge kept its player funds separate?

TAGs: Lotteries and Gaming Authority, Malta, Merge Gaming Network

Jerry Maguire

PokerXanadu calling Merge?

The Merge Gaming Network was one of the sites that were lauded as a “winner” after Black Friday. They came out of the dark day with around 5% of the players that formerly played at the big four sites and were looking good. Players, or more precisely the volume of them visiting the site was one of the problems. After the implosion of one payment processor back in Ma, it was speculated that some skins on the network were reporting a miniscule 20% success rate when it came to processing transactions. This came before they put a temporary kibosh on US customers so that they could let their teeth come their gums unhindered.

It all happened before the DoJ decided it was going to smash down the door and see what was going down. If true, the latest murmurings of discontent about this network will have the DoJ apoplectic and ready to blow a justicey load. If the alarm wasn’t already ringing in the brains of their players, this was when they would have been going haywire with the realization that this could be another Full Tilt Poker situation waiting to happen.

Players are understandably perturbed at the prospect of the DoJ being all high and mighty and taking their swag. Merge and Malta’s Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) claim that funds are kept separate and that would mean player funds being safer. This is a point that one 2+2 poster thinks is a load of baloney. PokerXanadu has been digging down to the bottom of the LGA/Merge hole to find out how safe funds are and if they are in fact held in a segregated “Client Account.”

As we now know, the funds at FTP were in the same account as the company’s general funds and if the same were the case at Merge, it would be a blow to anyone playing at one of the US-facing network’s 70 skins. Both sides have been as quiet as a couple of mice eyeing up a huge piece of Gorgonzola and there’s little comfort to be taken from the LGA conditions on player accounts.

The rules under which Merge has a remote gaming license read…

40. (1) A licensee shall keep players’ funds separately from the licensee’s own funds in a Clients’ account held with a credit institution approved by the Authority.

(2) (a) The funds in the players’ account, including funds in transit or in the process of being cleared through the banking system or by credit card processing companies, shall at any time be at least equal to the aggregate of the amount standing to the credit of players’ accounts held by the licensee:

Provided that if the funds standing to the credit of the clients’ accounts fall below the aggregate total of the amounts standing to the credit of players’ accounts, the licensee shall make good the shortfall from the licensee’s own funds within a period of thirty days of the end of the month in which the shortfall occurs.

That all sounds promising and probably had some of you readying the celebratory hoops to jump through. The LGA has galumphed you before you even the chance to buy the hoop with regulation 40.(2)(b)…

The Authority may, at its sole discretion, consider funds held in other accounts belonging to or controlled by the licensee to be included with funds in the clients’
accounts for the purpose of this regulation.

Remember that Merge is home to the infamous Jennifer Larson and her Lock Poker Network that managed one of the worst scandals in recent history. She’s part of the gaming industry gruesome twosome that comprises herself and the un-hireable Bryce Vincent “Vinnie” Geoffrey. That as well as the fact that she’s probably the closest the female race has ever got to Pinocchio. Couple this with the point that they’re owned by the D-rated Sportsbook.com and it doesn’t make the situation any more optimistic for players. It would be advisable for players in the future go to a site that is trusted or one that has a well know track record as far as the brand and history of the company is concerned.

What the situation at Merge is right now is anyone’s guess. Most will be hoping with baited breathe that the gaming network is in compliance with regulations 40 (1) and (2) (a) and the LGA is just sticking to some weird confidentiality agreement. There’s as yet no evidence that Merge has done anything wrong and as a network that runs several questionable skins you can understand why there is silence. They owe to their players to be honest as they are the ones that will suffer if it indeed turns out that funds aren’t separate and they’re getting 0.5¢ on the dollar.

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