October 03, 2008

Former WSOP champion behind Ultimate Bet cheating scandal

Former World Series of Poker main event champion Russ Hamilton has been identified as the main perpetrator and beneficiary of the Ultimate Bet cheating incidents.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) revealed 1994 WSOP winner Hamilton’s involvement over a period spanning more than three and a half years as it published the initial findings of an independent audit conducted on its licensee Ultimate Bet.

“The Commission found clear and convincing evidence to support the conclusion that between the approximate dates of May 2004 to January 2008, Russell Hamilton, an individual associated with Ultimate Bet’s affiliate program, was the main person responsible for and benefiting from the multiple cheating incidents,” said the statement.

The cheating incidents were initially uncovered by members of the Two Plus Two online poker forum in January of this year, who alerted Ultimate Bet to the abnormally high winning statistics in high-stakes games by a player with the online handle “Nio Nio”.

The KGC said it intended to fully cooperate with relevant law enforcement agencies in the prosecution of Hamilton and other individuals involved in the cheating incidents.

The statement also revealed the sanctions the KGC would be imposing on Ultimate Bet, which included a US$1.5m fine, the enforced removal from involvement in the company of all individuals deemed as “unsuitable” by the KGC, and the commencement of refunding of all player accounts found to have been adversely affected by 3 November. The KGC said it estimated Ultimate Bet had to date reimbursed players to the tune of US$6.1m.

The Commission warned that Ultimate Bet’s failure to comply fully with the sanctions would result in “immediate revocation of its KGC gaming permit.”

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