There is more to my story -the good, the bad and the ugly

Print this page

Derek Webb founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and the Stop the FOBTs campaign continues his personal story and gambling insights

I have explained how we defeated the bad guys, PGIC. We were the good guys as recognized by the US government in their federally appropriate tripling of our damages. The ugly guys were ShuffleMaster (SHFL), the public company we sold the non-British Isles rights to Three Card Poker™ to. During the trial against PGIC we discovered that SHFL had some evidence of the fraud in the patents being asserted against us, which they did not disclose to us when agreeing to defend us against PGIC. Sometimes the ones who want to appear to be your friends end up causing you the most harm.

After winning the jury trial against PGIC, a litigation investment entity approached us to buy a piece of the case. We agreed to do this as PGIC was not in a strong financial position but intended to drag out the proceedings to appeal. It meant that we had covered our expenses regardless of what transpired. We then prevailed in a judicial review, and accepted the PGIC settlement offer in late 2007.We were now in position to litigate against SHFL and filed in 2008, again in Jackson, Mississippi. There were a variety of components to this litigation, including a dispute over enforcement of Three Card Poker™ rights in respect of remote gaming. The majority of remote gambling sites had set up in minimally regulated jurisdictions which allowed the licensees to conduct business anywhere, even in jurisdictions where those governments said it was illegal. In Britain, the Gambling Commission, which has a duty to enforce the licensing objective of no association of gambling with crime, has turned a blind eye to this historical activity.

Many remote operators, in conspiracy with their affiliates and software providers, accessed US gamblers, in contradiction of state and federal laws, obtaining illegal profits and making no contributions to taxes or problem gambling funding in the US. They also blatantly abused intellectual property rights, by ripping off games with US patents, including Three Card Poker™. They even stated in their terms and conditions (T&Cs) that in effect they owned all the rights to everything on their site, thus invalidating their T&Cs. This is in clear contradiction of any rational interpretation of another licensing objective, that gambling should be “fair and open”.

Non-gamblers and those not regularly engaged in gambling often treat gamblers with disdain, as if they are greed-motivated fools. This description might fit a few, but does not apply to the vast majority. I commissioned a remote gambler survey over 10 years ago, which showed that only a small percentage would not be concerned if an invented game was used without permission. As I explained to the trade at the time, irrespective of legal considerations, I would always have moral and ethical arguments regarding use without permission.

By 2010 the judge had denied a SHFL request to transfer to Nevada and agreed to hear the totality of all components of the case. Prior to any discovery, SHFL paid a $5.5million settlement and acquired the British Isles remote Three Card Poker™ rights  for another $1.5 million, so acknowledging that the game rights extend beyond the casino table game only.

Our willingness to settle quickly was based on a desire to retire and move on to other things. We could not arrange a sale until after litigation had been concluded. The sale of all casino banked game assets was transacted with Galaxy Gaming Inc in 2011. This gave me more time to put together the Stop the FOBTs Campaign.

Remote gambling has been very detrimental in weakening the regulation of gambling. Even “white-listed” jurisdictions have been little more than facilitators rather than regulators. The Campaign believes that operators are conspiring to obtain illegal gambling profits – why wasn’t anything done about that? Affiliates purporting to be information sites getting up to 70% of gambler losses by steering gambling consumers to the most lucrative sites - business as usual! Advertising free credits and bonuses, but applying turnover based T&Cs to negate their value – deceptive marketing at its finest!

Look at remote gambling trade magazines or visit remote gambling exhibitions; the regulators are there, extolling the virtues of their jurisdiction. When regulators become salespersons something must be wrong. It is under this influence that the Gambling Commission moved away from the principles of its predecessor, the Gaming Board.

The Campaign believes that the Commission uses remote gambling as an excuse to do nothing about any form of gambling. It postulates that if you can lose unlimited amounts on your mobile or PC then why should there be any limits in bricks-and-mortar premises? The Commission wants to appear to be a friend to problem gamblers by repeating the socially responsible gambling mantra. But it is playing an ugly role in denying the volume of the evidence of harm, particularly in respect of the consequences of content and stakes above £2 on FOBTs.

leave your comment
popular blog posts
ddd

Jersey OAP smashes up roulette machines posted on Sunday 29th September 2013

ddd

Lib Dems vote for more local control of betting shops posted on Tuesday 17th September 2013

ddd

Lib Dem motion – a move in the right direction posted on Tuesday 17th September 2013