WSOP Player, Gordon Vayo, Sues PokerStars for Withholding Payment

PokerStars is being sued by Gordon Vayo, the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up. Vayo has taken the company to court for refusing to pay him his winnings from the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP), which he won in 2017. In total, it is withholding nearly $700 000 from Vayo, which he claims he won legitimately.

Pokerstars sued by Gordon Vayo for withholding winnings
Gordon Vayo is suing Pokerstars for refusing to pay him his $700 000 winnings from the SCOOP poker tournament in 2017

PokerStars Questions Vayo’s Location

The SCOOP online tournament was a $1050 buy-in, no limit Hold’Em tournament with a grand prize of $692 000. Vayo won the tournament but had his winnings frozen. The reason for this is that PokerStars believes Vayo was playing in the tournament from within the United States. The poker site is prohibited from operating in the USA, with the exception of New Jersey.

According to Vayo, he has provided evidence that he was in Canada while playing the tournament. PokerStars continues to insist that the evidence he has submitted is insufficient and it is possible that he was in the USA during the tournament. Vayo’s lawsuit is seeking punitive damages, and exemplary damages that include fraud, deceit, false advertising, and breach of contract.

No-Win Situation for PokerStars

Despite what was going on behind the scenes, PokerStars also continued to use Vayo’s name and his win in their marketing campaigns for the SCOOP tournaments. There have also been some more troubling claims made by the lawsuit. Vayo is claiming that the company deliberately engages in practices to defraud users. It does this by encouraging players to register, even if they’re from banned countries, and only checks on their location if they win.

No matter what happens with the lawsuit, it’s bad news for PokerStars. The company is still hoping to be allowed to operate in more states legally. However, this lawsuit makes it look like it either doesn’t adequately check a player’s location or refuses to pay out its big winners. Neither of these scenarios make the company look very good.