Self-exclusion is an option for online gamblers around the world who feel they need a break from gameplay. Operators offer this service to protect players from gambling harm. There are options to self-exclude for certain time frames as well as permanently. For the most part, the process works well. However, sometimes, players fall through the cracks and are allowed to gamble even though they should be. This is what happened at PokerStars and parent company, The Stars Group, is now paying the price.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement sent a Notice of Violation to The Stars Group in late January to impose the civil penalty. A fine of $1,000 was issued on the company as they did not stop two players who were self-excluded from accessing the gaming site. Only one player was able to gamble but it was enough to see the fine issued.
The gambler was a member of PokerStars and played regularly at the online casino and poker site of the brand in the Garden State. He requested a six-month cool-down period in September of 2018. By February of 2019, the player decided he needs to permanently exclude himself from gaming.
Just five months later, in July, he spoke with customer service and asked for his account to be reinstated. The support personnel only saw the six-month break, so they agreed to reopen the account. A technical glitch in the system led to the player database now showing the banned flag on the player’s account.
If the glitch had not taken place, support would have seen the flag and not allowed the player to gain access to his account. Instead, he was able to play and he played a lot. Gambling began in early July 2019 and continued through April 2020. In around 10 months, the player deposited $11,450 and wagered over $548,000 in bets at the online casino. He wagered another $91,000+ at the online poker site.
PokerStars earned about $16,000 from the gambler’s activity. They were forced to hand this over along with the $1,000 fine.
The Stars Group reported the software malfunction in early May to the DGE. They had already frozen the online gaming account of the self-excluded player. PokerStars was the one who discovered the issue, and they took action right away.
The online gaming operator was able to discover the problem during an audit of the player database compared to the self-exclusion files of the DGE. The day the player self-excluded just happened to be the same day that PokerStars was working on upgrading its software.
Because he signed up on this very day, his account was not flagged as it should have been. At the time, programmers noticed that some functions were not processing correctly. So, they rolled back to the standby database. This resulted in the change to the player’s self-excluded status.
While PokerStars did not have a record of it, the change did move on to the DGE. This was how the discrepancy was able to be found, though it was many months later.