Canadian Poker Player Files Class Action Against Loto-Quebec Over Exposed Hole Cards8 months ago
A Canadian poker player has sued the Quebec national lottery, Loto-Quebec, over faulty programming on Loto-Quebec’s Texas Hold’em poker platform, OKPoker, that allowed some a minority of players to see opponents’ hole cards at the conclusion of every hand. Elisabetta Bertucci, of Quebec, filed the class action on June 1, 2020, after discovering the programming error in May. The action names Loto-Quebec’s espacejeux platform and the OKPoker site as defendants.
The class-action nature of the lawsuit will allow other aggrieved players to join the action against Loto-Quebec if they believe they have been impacted by the programming error, which existed for an indeterminate amount of time before May 18, 2020.
In her lawsuit, Bertucci alleges she first discovered the issue on May 13, during her first session playing via an iPad, after having played via Windows computers for several years. She contacted espacejeux about the issue and spoke with the platform’s technical support, who confirmed the programming error. However, nothing was done until May 18, when Bertucci again contacted espacejeux, then spoke with a technical supervisor.
The programming hole was closed within hours, and espacejeux then offered Bertucci a $15 credit to her account. Bertucci declined the offer, asserting in the lawsuit that “she refused because she does not believe that this amount is adequate given the importance of the issue, her actual losses and the time she wasted playing on a faulty and deceptive platform.”
Bertucci, who has played on espacejeux and OKPoker since 2010, has instead asked for the entirety of her losses since joining espacejeux, which total $17,945.86, plus any punitive damages deemed proper by the court.
However, the class action seeks a refund of all losses for every player during the entire “class period”, plus an additional $300 per affected player. That period will stretch from when the programming error was first introduced, all the way until the hole was closed on May 18. The class action also describes how displaying opponents’ hole cards even after a hand has completed can give an advantage to certain players -- here, users of iPads and related devices. From the action:
'45. Knowing one’s opponent is an important element of playing poker, since the more one plays against another, the more one learns about the other’s strategies, reactions and playing styles. In fact, this is precisely the reason why the Defendants do not let their customers ever change their usernames (because other players have taken notes and acquired knowledge about their opponents that becomes an asset to them over time);
46. Since the Applicant always played on the computer, her opponents using iPads were able to see the Applicant’s “pocket” cards, which gave them an advantage over her, because they gained knowledge about her strategies and playing styles (for instance, these players could know that the Applicant may have a tendency to go “all-in” even though she does not have a good hand, which means that the next time the Applicant goes “all-in” the other player – having acquired this knowledge – would “call” (i.e. match) her bet instead of fold, causing the Applicant to lose a hand she would have won had her opponent not acquired this knowledge as result of the faulty platform);'
Bertucci also asserted that, to date, espacejeux and OKPoker have refused to allow players to change their screen names to reduce the data inequity that still exists. Espacejeux is the only “legal” online gambling platform available to Quebec’s citizenry, though numerous sites serve the province as grey-market operators.
The class action was filed by LPC Avocat Inc., a Montreal law firm specializing in consumer-rights cases.
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