December 14, 2008 (InfoPowa News) — One of the more interesting industry articles last week was an interview with Tokwiro Enterprises' Chief Operating Officer Paul Leggett, conducted by Bob Pajich on the respected Card Player website here: http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-news/article/5721/coo-of-absolute-poker-and-ultimatebet-opens-up
In the interview, Leggett discusses his trials and tribulations, having been recruited into Tokwiro early in 2008 to sort out the aftermath of the Absolute Poker.com cheating debacle, only to be almost immediately faced with a similar scam at UltimateBet. One of Leggett's priorities had been to replace the previously "entrepreneurially" focused management team with one more oriented to " … security and compliance and transparency and internal audits and things of that nature."
The interview recaps the now well-known facts surrounding the twin $21 million cheating disasters and how they were detected and resolved, the main point being Leggett's assertion that all prejudiced players had now been made whole by the company in its attempt to get on with its business and create some space between the scandals and its reputation.
The two operational companies have since moved to a new Tokwiro network branded Cereus, and it was in answering questions about this that Leggett revealed the previously unknown fact that the Cereus software was developed in Korea.
Leggett told Pajich that the Cereus venture was not motivated by a desire to outrun the cheating scandals, but was a business strategy planned for some time that had been delayed by the effort required to overcome the cheating issues.
"We were diverted by these scandals quite a bit, so that put us off-track and delayed us implementing it," Leggett says in the Card Player interview. "But the real reasons for it was to provide a better product and experience for our players by giving them double the amount of players to play against.
"And also, the operation efficiencies that we gain as a company by cost-savings and having one platform that we're supporting, instead of doing it across two, and it's easier for our customer service department, etcetera."
After discussing brand identity and target market matters, Pajich asked Leggett about the new Cereus software platform, and Leggett answered: "We have a software development shop out of South Korea and they developed the Cereus platform.
"The security of the platform was tested by Gaming Associates. But the priority for the platform was always security and compliance of regulatory standards. We made a lot of improvements to the security of hole cards, we built a major layer of security, and this was really our strategy, building multiple layers of security to make sure nothing like the cheating of the past can ever happen again.
"This new layer of security, which is called our Security Center Software application, was built specifically for the Cereus Network. Essentially, it's a security framework for advanced fraud algorithms that kind of alert our security team of any abnormal behavior. Things like detecting abnormal winning statistics or somebody who is multi-accounting or somebody who is chip dumping and currently we're enhancing it with many new methods, things like detecting bots. We can detect bots now, but we're adding in really advanced algorithms that will detect bots in a different way."
Leggett adds that this, allied to a different management team and company culture, and the fact that a huge effort had been made to recompense cheated players, will hopefully convince players that their poker at Cereus is safe and fair. Referring to the changes, he said: "Again, it's the whole company, it's the software, and now we're working on some advanced security initiatives that I think will really help people to feel comfortable."
As a purely subjective [editorial] observation, InfoPowa found Leggett's rationalizations on the company's actions — or the lack thereof — in pursuing the alleged main cheater Russ Hamilton and others unconvincing and even confusing. Obfuscating about Tokwiro being a victim because it bought flawed software does not address the issue about which players are still outraged: Why haven't the perpetrators who profited so handsomely from these multimillion dollar frauds been hauled before a criminal court or otherwise subjected to punitive legal sanctions?
Leggett rambles on about the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and its own investigations, but seems content to leave the matter be with the repeated statement: "We’re simply not judge and jury."
He says: "So I understand that the public wants us to come out and make accusations and point fingers all over the place, but, again, simply, we're just not the judge and jury. We've done our investigation, we've tried to be as transparent with everything we could and the gaming commission has done a good job at least naming the one person they believed to be the main perpetrator who was doing the actual cheating. And it's very possible, and I hope they will name other people, if they can confirm (who they are).
"I know they [the KGC] released in their press release that they are going to work with different police forces. I believe they’re currently working with one and they’re willing to discuss working with others with the information they have. And we're continuing to explore what we can do specifically with the cheaters themselves, but it's very complicated and there are jurisdictional issues, but our first priority was always to get a name released who was involved and to get the players their money back. And we're talking about an enormous amount of money that we were able to refund players and we're happy with that. But it's not over. We just think we've taken some pretty big steps and made a lot of progress so far."
It does not give the reassurance of closure, in our view, as time ticks on.
The interview goes on to discuss the background and Kahnawake relationships of Tokwiro's owner, former chief Joe Norton, and assure players that there is no special relationship with the KGC, which regulates many other online gambling operations.
Leggett ends the interview on an upbeat note, predicting an exciting future for his company.
"I think our company has come through some very difficult times," he says, stating the obvious. "It's a lot of new people and a lot of new blood and we faced a major challenge and came through it and now we’re ready to turn that passion and that energy onto growing the business.
"We've got some pretty exciting things planned for the marketing of these two brands. We really want to push the envelope and let the world know we’re here. But, again, the transparency and security is what were looking to prove and show people that we're leading the industry there. We will not forget our past. We've learned from this and fixed it and we want to ensure everyone that it's fixed."