Sunday, September 29, 2013
The Norbert No-Show: Bwin.Party Boss Teufelberger Skips French Court Date
Teufelberger and Bodner were arrested by French authorities back in 2006 for operating in France without a license. It's not the only time Teufelberger has run afoul of European law and licensing requirements; he was also detained last November in neighboring Belgium on a similar national complaint, this time taking bets from Belgian punters, again without the requisite licensing. It's a common theme for bwin.party and the organization the company leads, EGBA: Licenses are only needed when convenient. bwin.party was also among the leaders of the European online-gambling world's exodus from British climes to Gibraltar, purely for tax-shelter reasons.
As for Teufelberger, he was supposed to show up in person for the latest French hearing but dispatched his lawyers instead, according to a recent CalvinAyre report. That behavior drew the ire of presiding French judge Magali Tabareau, who reiterated that Teufelberger must appear in person, and set a new court date for April of 2014.
Whether or not Teufelberger complies is anyone's guess, since he and his company, bwin.party, have that longstanding reputation of being international scofflaws in such matters. Worse, as the CA piece correctly notes, is that the scofflaw antics end exactly where someone else's behavior enters a legal grey area, as in bwin.party's (and before that, PartyPoker's) repeated attacks on PokerStars for offering online poker in the the US, post-UIGEA.
Settlements with the US notwithstanding, it's safe to say that the actual offering of poker by PokerStars was more legally clean than the old PartyGaming's activities, which included being the first major US-facing site back then to include online blackjack within its poker client. Parent PartyGaming also allowed US players to participate briefly in two other gambling ventures of even more dubious legality, PartyCasino (online slots and casino games) and PartyMarkets (betting on elections and the like), so the claims they've made over the years about various rivals' supposedly illicit activities are best viewed as an effing joke.
Then again, even bwin.party was wise enough to part ways with Teufelberger's former co-CEO, James Ryan. Ryan's stained tenure with UltimateBet ownership entity Excapsa posed a possible threat to bwin.party's ongoing plans to return to the US market, which were in the news last week when the company announced tentative plans to slither into the upcoming New Jersey online-poker scene. Bwin.party is one massively hypocritical company the US could do without, though whether New Jersey regulators have the common sense to give them the cold shoulder remains to be seen.