Welcome to the PokerStars corporate blog. Here you’ll find regular updates, news and views that help you get to know the company and our employees better and where we will share our views on our business, the industry and issues affecting both. Going forward, you’ll hear from a range of PokerStars people, including execs, customer service reps, software engineers, product managers… anyone with good information to share or an interesting story to tell.
The Corporate Blog comes at a fitting time in our history. We’re about to turn 10 years old (December 18) and the online poker industry is going through profound change as it evolves into its next phase of growth. During our first decade, we kept a fairly low corporate profile; preferring to keep our heads down, our eyes focused on innovation and our ears tuned-in to the hopes and concerns of our growing number of customers. That dedication has helped us become the leading poker company in the world and helped us set the standard in delivering customer service to online poker players.
That dedication will never change. However, as the industry evolves so, too, will the markets and the companies serving those markets, including PokerStars. We’re going to be more transparent during this evolution because transparency will enhance our relationship with customers, communities and constituencies who often have questions about us.
Probably the most often-asked questions about PokerStars recently have been regarding the way we maintain player funds and accounts. This has obviously been a key concern for us and our previous cash customers in the United States ever since Full Tilt Poker ceased operations leaving their player’s accounts in doubt. While legal and proprietary issues prevent us from discussing matters fully, I can shed a bit more light and clarity around how we manage player funds.
First of all, ever since we began offering real-money online poker we have maintained player funds in separate accounts from operational funds. We did this as wise and conservative business strategy. It also allowed us to provide a very high level of customer service, even if customers were not always aware it was being provided.
Moreover, PokerStars holds its license with the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) whose strict requirements for online gaming licensing represent the gold-standard in regulation. The GSC requires that any player-owned funds (deposits and winnings) are ring-fenced from the operating funds of the company and held securely in segregated bank accounts.
Like any eCommerce business, PokerStars receives monies from payment processors with a delay of a few days to a few weeks. Regardless of this delay, PokerStars transfers funds on a daily basis from its operational accounts to the players’ segregated accounts. This way, while payment processors could end up not making the transfers of the processed monies into PokerStars for any reason, this risk is borne by the company, not the players. PokerStars performs this process under the scrutiny of the regulators it holds licenses from.
Each day our Treasury Department reviews the player account transactions and makes sure that there is always more than enough funds in the segregated accounts to cover player balances (see chart below). As a result, any risk associated with a disruption to the player fund system–caused by a delinquent payment processor, or a bankrupt bank, or a government action–is borne by PokerStars, because funds to cover such disruptions would come out of our operating income – not player funds.
These activities are reviewed by our various regulators, particularly the Isle of Man GSC which reviews our player fund balances on a quarterly basis. And the GSC is empowered to conduct audits at virtually any time they see fit, just as they did following the events of April 15. On several occasions since the GSC has confirmed our compliance with these requirements. You can find those statements here: //www.gov.im/gambling.
In addition to the external governmental accountability, we maintain well-staffed and disciplined experts in our internal audit and compliance departments. These folks take great pride in maintaining the integrity of the PokerStars business and the safety of customer accounts.
It’s these kinds of protections that have enabled us to refund more than US$125 million to US players since April 15. Of course, no company likes to lose customers, but smart companies find ways to keep customers (current and former) happy. We’re proud of the reputation that we have maintained with players around the world as a result of our actions since April 15.
As I said at the start, we are dedicated to customer service and we expect this blog to help us continue to deliver on that commitment. We look forward to serving you, hearing from you and having an ongoing dialogue.