PokerStars PA To Refund Online Poker Players Affected by Geolocation Outage

Written By Valerie Cross on October 23, 2020 - Last Updated on December 21, 2023
Geolocation error disrupts online poker play at PokerStars PA

Pennsylvania poker players at PokerStars PA experienced a frustrating night at the tables on Thursday. Online poker tournaments, cash games and other forms of online betting in PA and NJ were interrupted for about an hour around 9 p.m. EST.

It was confirmed today that the issues derived from a network communications error that interrupted geolocation services that online gambling operators rely on. Online tournaments continued while players sat out, many returning to much shorter chip stacks or no chips at all.

As of Friday, the issue appears resolved, with players to receive refunds by Saturday morning. PokerStars communicated the following via Twitter Friday morning:

“Yesterday we experienced issues with our geolocation services. We apologize for any inconvenience. This is now resolved, and you should be able to access your account normally. If you were affected in any tournaments, please allow up to 24 hrs for your account to be refunded.”

GeoGuard Geolocation service the source of the outage

This morning, Elizabeth Cronan, VP, government relations of GeoGuard/GeoComply, provided the following statement to US Poker:

“Last night, we encountered an unexpected network communications error, which our team responded to and remedied immediately. We have alerted all affected clients, and they are aware of the issue and the steps that were taken to resolve it as quickly as possible.”

The GeoGuard app or plug-in allows online casino and sportsbook players to access their accounts and wager via browser on desktop or mobile. Geolocation software is an important piece of the legal gambling puzzle. It allows operators to confirm that a user is indeed within state borders where gambling is approved and regulated. Another company rep confirmed:

“Our internal teams identified an issue that temporarily affected the communication systems within our data center.”

The sole reliance on the GeoComply service means most players in Pennsylvania who were gambling online during the outage were affected. Even the mobile gambling apps in the state utilize geolocation via GeoComply, though it is built in.

PokerStars PA and NJ players affected

While regular daily tournaments were running at PokerStars PA, New Jersey was playing out Thursday’s NJCOOP events, consisting of:

  • $250 NLHE [8-Max, Progressive KO, Thursday Thrill SE], $30K Gtd
  • $30 NLHE [8-Max, Progressive KO, Mini Thrill], $10K Gtd
  • $150 NLHE [Turbo], $15K Gtd

The series wraps up on Monday, with the $125K guaranteed $300 buy-in Main Event kicking off Sunday. PokerStars will hope for no further disruptions.

How will poker player refunds work?

A poker player in NJ tweeted the following, indicating that at least some players were still online while others were “sitting out.”

Apparently the same thing took place at PokerStars PA, with limited players taking advantage and chipping up through defenseless players. PlayPennsylvania has reached out to PokerStars for comment on how this situation will be dealt with, as many players blinded out or down significantly during the downtime.

A PokerStars rep told Play Pennsylvania:

“The day after the issues, we refunded players en masse based either on the equity they lost during the outage or given as a full refund of the tournament buy-in. Players should be able to find their credits in their transaction history.”

For any further concerns or issues with the refund, players can contact PokerStars via its customer service page or message @StarsSupport on Twitter.

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available. If you were affected and want to share your story with us, feel free to message us @PlayPANews on Twitter. 

Lead image via Dreamstime.

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Valerie Cross

Valerie Cross is Editor-in-Chief of Catena Media's regional sites portfolio which includes mature gambling market sites like PlayPennsylvania, PlayMichigan and PlayNJ as well as sites covering emerging markets. Valerie was a poker writer and editor for PokerNews before joining the regulated sports betting and online gambling industry in 2019. She received her BA from Furman University in 2007 in Spanish and Psychology and completed her MA and Ph.D. at Indiana University in Language Education.

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