The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently announced that they have launched initiatives geared toward the review of regulations governing peer-to-peer poker, with a view to investigating issues raised against the use of bots, and third-party software in online poker websites. The announcement conveyed explanation that the focus on peer-to-peer online poker, borders mainly on The Commission’s desire to make certain that online poker is free from crime, and carried out in a fair and open gaming environment, whilst providing protection to minors and to those susceptible to potential harms of gambling.
The UKGC will be carrying out the review process in several stages. The first of which is already ongoing, which entails the gathering of information from licensee operators of online poker gaming sites where players play against each other instead of against “the House.”Information sought mainly pertains to cheating and player collusion allegedly perpetuated using third-party software and automated poker bots. A UKGC spokesperson said that they have been in communication with online poker room licensee-operators, asking them to furnish information and their opinions regarding current concerns related to the use of the technologies.
The information requested is deemed important to their initiative of assessing whether the existing controls are sufficient, as included in the UKGC’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practices (LCCP), as well as those in the Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards. The UKGC aims to establish whether the controls are adequate if for ensuring that online poker is conducted in a fair and transparent gaming environment that is totally crime free, and protects minors and vulnerable individuals from threats posed by gambling.
The UKGC spokesperson further mentioned that they will likewise consider the overall impact of the issues as they affect game integrity. The gaming regulator is therefore taking the opportunity presented by the online poker review, in canvassing outlooks and opinions in general, which presumably will come from the public.
In closing, the announcement conveyed that all information gathered will be utilised to help The Commission shape a potential formal consultation regarding remote technical standards.
Known Issues About Third Party Software and Game Bots
This latest pronouncement from the UKGC follows the recent policy changes implemented by leading online poker sites PokerStars and PartyPoker. The changes included prohibiting the use of third-party tracking software, including hands and situation analysers that compute equities for varied ranges of hands pitted against each other. Applications that react to an ongoing game play are now prohibited, including those programs designed to automatically determine betting sizes based on the ongoing action, taking place at the poker table.
Seat registration programs, popularly known as seating scripts that prevent players to choose or select a specific tournament table, particularly in PokerStars’ Spin and Go competitions are now prohibited. Although PokerStars asserted that the changes have long been in the works, many believe that the implementation was expedited following the site’s investigation of two much-publicised protests coming from the PokerStars player community.
One involved a contentious PokerStars player who developed software that empowered him to dominate sit and go tournaments. The other issue was linked to an alleged Russian bot ring, which PokerStars admitted to have investigated and confirmed to have won illegally by using artificial intelligence that gave them unfair advantage over other players.