Chico Poker Network Owes $1 Million in Players Payouts
The Chico Poker Network might not be one of the largest or most advertised in the online gambling industry, but it has made a barrage of headlines in the last year. In 2011, the poker network changed hands, and there was a discrepancy between the network and its investors that caused problems in regards to issuing player cashouts. All funds were frozen, but CPN assured players their money was safe and payouts would be delivered. Now, two years later, players are having a hard time swallowing the company’s latest ‘promise’ that payouts will finally resume, “without delay”, on July 1st.
It all started in October of 2011 when the Action Poker Network was acquired by Julian Holdings International Inc. The previous owner, Ecom Enterprises NV, had not been effected by the ominous Black Friday of online poker, since the network didn’t accept US players, but it was apparent that business wasn’t as profitable as Ecom would have liked when its affiliate program, Wager Profits, which hadn’t been paying its affiliates for the last year, offered a 60-cents-on-the-dollar settlement to its partners. Thus they chose to sell.
For $4.8 million, Julian Holdings Intl took over the online poker skins of PayNoRake, PokerInCanada and TigerGaming. All “related assets and customer liabilities” came along with the acquisition, but Ecom retained the rights to ActionPoker and its software client. As such, the new owners developed the Chico Poker Network, and immediately extended its range into US borders.
Almost immediately, the problems began. Playsafe Holdings AS, which owns Ecom and had agreed to monthly payments of $200k from Julian for the acquisition, issued a warning in June 2012 to its shareholders that Julian was not fulfilling its payment requirements. A month later, all was supposedly settled, but the same issue arose in May of 2013. Julian was not making the agreed payments and eventually fell to $800k in Playsafe’s debt.
Ostensibly, if CPN could not pay its debts to Playsafe, it certainly couldn’t afford to honor the payouts of its members. Julian’s contract with Ecom clearly states that if they were not able to pay their monthly bills, proprietorship of the poker rooms in question would return to Ecom. Thus Julian put all efforts into paying its debts, rather than its players.
Members of CPN’s skins were told that the network was dealing with the problem, reminding them that “several unforeseen circumstances” had arisen upon acquisition of the former APN poker sites. Statements listed those circumstances as “regulatory issues, banking issues, player bonus fraud, extended due diligence, etc.” Similarly, last year’s statement blamed a “sizable backlog of pending payouts being run through various fraud checks, prioritized and fulfilled per contractual agreements”.
According to insider reports, the Chico Poker Network owes more than $1 million to players outside of the United States alone. Nevertheless, the online poker network has assured its players, some who have been waiting for two years, that payouts will resume tomorrow, July 1st. All pending payout requests were cancelled and players are now being asked, in order to receive a due payout, to resubmit their withdrawal requests.