Partypoker Continues New Bot-Hunting Effort

Updated: May 18th, 2019 by Haley Hintze

One of the world’s largest and most well-known online poker brands, partypoker, has announced its latest update in a worldwide and brand-wide effort to rid its sites of accounts playing with the aid of automated decision-making software. Such accounts, commonly called bots, have always been illegal under the terms of service dictated by party and most other online sites, yet party is prominent among a smaller number of sites that is making a resurgent effort to identify, close, and seize the balances from such cheating accounts.

Party quietly began its increased policing efforts against botting late in 2018 by forming a dedicated Poker Fraud Team, which according to the site’s initial update is comprised of “a collection of former poker professionals who are equipped with the necessary knowledge and expertise to investigate suspicious activity and aid partypoker in ridding the poker site of unscrupulous accounts.”

Party began identifying bots and seizing account balances last December, and in its initial update, announced that 277 bot accounts had been closed in the period December 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019. A total of $734,852.15 was seized from the identified bot accounts, with that money redistributed to players who were negatively impacted by the bots’ cheating.

This time around, the period covered by party’s latest update is much shorter… just the month of April 2019. Still, party reported plenty of bot activity being detected and confirmed. Between party’s global site and its single-nation (dot-eu) offerings in France and Spain, another 94 accounts have received the official banhammer. A total of about $182,500 was seized from the two sites; since the dot-com is valued in US dollars and the France and Spain sites are valued in euros, an exact figure is difficult to calculate.

Also, the average balance seized from the 39 bot accounts found on the global dot-com site was more than six times as much as the average seized from a bot operating on the France/Spain site. That shows up in the totals announced for April. On the dot-com site, party identified 39 bots, accounting for a total of $143,908.10 in seized funds, or nearly $3,600 on average per account. Compare that to the France/Spain bot findings, where there were 55 total account closures, but those 55 seizures accounted for €34,546.17 (about $38,600 in US dollars).

The reimbursement process is ongoing, as seizing the balances is only the first step; all play involving the cheating accounts — determining who was cheated, and for how much — can extend for several weeks.

Party’s first update in what it plans as an ongoing, once-a-month offering didn’t offer a breakout between the global and France/Spain offerings, so further comparisons lose some relevance. A month ago, party asserted that more than three fourths of the total bot accounts identified and closed came through the work of the new anti-fraud team, with the smaller remainder coming as a result of player complaints. That held true in general terms in April, but not specifically with regards to the global site: For April, 15 of the 39 bot-account closures originated with consumer complaints. On the ring-fenced France-Spain platform, only five of the 55 closures originated from player complaints.

(For those wondering, botting has yet to be a publicly announced issue with the party-branded offerings in the US state of New Jersey. One contributing factor is that in New Jersey, botting is against the state’s gambling laws and can bring civil and criminal penalties in addition to account seizures. Further, any bot-related seizures that do occur are handled via a different procedure controlled by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.)

Partypoker is among several sites and networks that, over the past couple of years, have begun to grasp more fully the long-term negative impact bots and automated play inflict on the online-poker scene. Here’s hoping that the push to ban bots continues to expand across the entire industry.

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