Global Poker’s 2 Big Missteps: Time to Abandon Ship?
By Bob Garcia
Online site Global Poker had big dreams of revolutionizing the internet poker landscape with its unique sweepstakes model when it first opened in February 2017. However, it has recently committed two huge blunders that call into question its competence in the industry. Many now wonder whether it’s time for this company to close or at least seriously rethink its whole business framework.
The first error in judgment involves switching users over to a new payment provider on short notice and discontinuing support for its previous payments partner. The second centers around the exposure of confidential customer information on the internet.
Global Ceases to Allow PayPal Deposits and Withdrawals
Global Poker has always had just one single funding and cash-out method. Until very recently, this was PayPal. Used by millions of people every day, PayPal support was a big selling point for Global especially among recreational players. These poker fans were looking for the easiest way to move their money around for online games, and for most of them, PayPal fit the bill perfectly.
On June 12, 2018, Global switched certain customers over to using Worldpay for cashier functions rather than PayPal. The individuals chosen for this “distinction” had no choice in the matter. This policy was extended to the entire user base on June 30. It’s now impossible to make PayPal withdrawals from or deposits to the site because all transactions are processed through Worldpay.
Problems With Worldpay
Although Worldpay is a respected institution that handles billions of dollars per year, it was a bad move for Global Poker to abandon PayPal.
PayPal allows users to fund their accounts through several mechanisms, including credit cards and bank account transfers. Similarly, they can get ahold of the cash in their PayPal accounts via a number of means, such as having it sent to their bank accounts and spending it through a debit card.
By contrast, Global Wordpay deposits can only be made with a Visa or MasterCard. When it’s time to collect their winnings, players have to send them directly to their bank accounts. People who lack bank accounts or prefer not to use them for poker are out of luck at Global.
Limiting Player Choice
Global, in emails to its players, touted the move from PayPal to Worldpay as a way of increasing customer choice. However, it was nothing of the sort because it restricted users to just credit card deposits and bank transfer payouts. PayPal already supported these channels, plus a whole host more, so this change was entirely negative for Global’s player pool.
Another issue is the time it takes to receive Worldpay withdrawals. PayPal cash-outs from Global were processed within a couple of days and often within a few hours. Payments through Worldpay are taking multiple days and sometimes more than a week to hit bank accounts.
Reputable real money internet gaming sites give their guests numerous ways of conducting cashier functions. For instance, there are more than 60 crypto-currencies that Americas Cardroom employs for depositing and withdrawing money. Those who would rather not use digital coins can access a few traditional processors, like credit cards and money transfers, instead.
Document Security Concerns
Beginning June 21, 2018, the player community learned that personally identifying documents submitted to Global Poker for identity verification were visible on the web. Anyone with the correct URL could see them. The documents in question included photo IDs, proofs of address, and bank statements. As a security measure, the web addresses for these records were generated randomly and consisted of long sequences of unpredictable characters, making it unlikely that anyone would be able to crack the code. However, this was for naught because Global included links to these files in its email correspondence with users! Anyone who intercepted one of these texts (not too difficult for any diligent hacker) would gain access to private information.
Bad Software Settings to Blame
It turns out that this security oversight pertains to Global’s ZenDesk support infrastructure. There’s a setting in the software labeled “Require authentication to download.” Checking this box restricts access to attachments to those who are properly logged into their accounts. Thus, anyone who possesses the address for a given file is still not be able to view it unless he or she is the legitimate owner of the document and logged into the relevant account. Needless to say, Global Poker did not enable this feature.
Security Flaw Plugged
Global Poker, once the matter had been brought to its attention, belatedly altered the configuration settings in the appropriate software. Therefore, this issue will no longer affect users going forward.
Still, hundreds or thousands of pieces of sensitive paperwork were exposed to the whole world before this correction was made. We don’t know exactly how long this security hole was around, but it most likely dates back to when Global first started using ZenDesk: around May 2017. It’s inexcusable for a company to make such a glaring mistake and then not fix it for more than a year.
Many Minor Snafus Too
The breach in document security and the payment processor replacement were the most serious screw-ups made by Global. They are by no means the only ones though. Broken promises about the distribution of prize pools in cancelled tournaments, a lack of bonuses and promotions, and confusion about which countries Global is willing to send withdrawals to are just a few of the snares that have trapped players in the recent past.
Once lauded as the harbinger of a new era of legal USA poker, Global Poker is now upsetting even its most loyal fans. Unless the company can turn itself around – and fast – it risks being relegated to obscurity and irrelevance. That is, before it goes the way of the dodo and winds up extinct.