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Major online poker site issues statement on cheating scandal

UltimateBet.com, one of the online poker industry's largest operators, confirmed Thursday a cheating scandal orchestrated under prior management.

In a news release, the company stated: "The results of its lengthy investigation into allegations of unfair play, which was triggered by concerns about an account named 'NioNio' … The investigation has concluded that certain player accounts did in fact have an unfair advantage and that these accounts targeted the highest limit games on the site. The individuals responsible were found to have worked for the previous ownership of UltimateBet prior to the sale of the business to Tokwiro in October 2006. Tokwiro is taking full responsibility for this situation and will immediately begin refunding UltimateBet customers for any losses that were incurred as a result of unfair play."

Certain players gained an unfair advantage through their ability to see their opponents' hole cards. In a game of incomplete information, the ability to see an opponent's hole cards is the ultimate weapon. While the total amount of money unfairly won by the perpetrators has not been reported, it is believed to have reached seven figures.

Steven Ware, one of a number of UltimateBet customers who publicly spoke about the issue said,
"UltimateBet's five months of silence should be a wake-up call that the billion-dollar online poker industry is in need of regulation to ensure fairness and corporate responsibility. Today's announcement is a bittersweet victory for all poker players. While it is satisfying that UltimateBet eventually caved to the public pressure, it is unsettling that insiders would have gotten away with stealing millions of dollars from their customers if not for the public outcry."

Several players who were affected told ESPN.com that they have started to receive the money they lost.