The embarrassingly public and very acrimonious payment dispute between PICClub and the Merge online poker network (see previous InfoPowa reports) seems to be headed for the courts judging by recent posts on an online gambling information message board by PIC chief executive Chuck Kidd.
It now appears that the outstanding monies owed to players have been paid, but that PIC Club still claims fees it is owed, and has handed the matter over to lawyers to collect.
This week Kidd posted a copy of his letter to PIC Club members on Gambling911.com, his media-of-choice apparently used to shame Merge into payment. At the same time he advised: "This issue has now been turned over to the lawyers for further collection."
In his letter to members, Kidd rationalises his decision to take the Merge issue public after withdrawing his cash processing services from the network, claiming that payment issues from the network and a press release that was economical with the truth prompted the move
"Since early July I have been trying to get the Merge Network to pay not only the arrears on fees that were owed to PICClub but also the money to fund the Players cash out account," Kidd alleged. "During this time I made many concessions to Merge in an attempt to get them to pay. At every promise they made to pay the arrears and acknowledging that the money was indeed owed they kept stalling and sending me the Checks in the Mail story over and over.
"One excuse even involved their CFO being caught in a Typhoon in Japan. It soon became evident that they had no intention of paying their debt and worse they were going to stiff the players. I sought council with many people I respect in this industry and to a person they agreed that I needed to make this issue known. Not only as a possible means to collect our funds but also to expose that Merge was either financially in trouble or was operating unethically," the PICClub CEO added.
His tactics appear to have had at least some success, because the letter continues:
"Well they finally sent enough money to cover the players cash outs. It is unfortunate that it took shaming them in a Public Arena for them to do what was right by the players and the attacks on PICClub and I personally are still going on. Merge has not presented 1 piece of evidence to refute the story, they have instead decided a campaign of slander, lies and innuendo waged by a group of affiliates and forum owners would be their answer to the issue presented."
Kidd then notes that longstanding members of the club were paid 14.25 percent interest on their account balances in PIC's first year, and 10.5 percent in its second, with the rate for the current year still to be determined once the final accounts have been audited.
He assures members that he intends to collect every cent owed to the club (there is a suggestion that so far Merge has paid only a third of the amount claimed), and that further poker rooms will be signed up soon.
In a related story, it appears from a recent press release that Kidd is also chief executive of a partner in a new startup that offers online poker action against a 30+ strong platoon of poker pros that includes TJ Cloutier, Barbara Enright and Kenna James.
Poker Pros Network.com and .net apparently opened early November 2009 as a joint venture between 1st. Players Group Ltd and Openlot Group, which supplies the software technology for the operation.
The operation is described as: "A new network for online players where everyday players can sit with on air pros. Poker Pros Network is opening for free online play November 1st 2009. Players Group Ltd. CEO Chuck Kidd says: 'We are proud to team with Openlot to bring this unique Poker Pros Network to the online poker world. We have currently signed more than 30 top online, as well as brick and mortar pros to play at the PPN.'"
Real cash play starts December 1st.
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