The organizers of the Midway Poker Tour could face legal action over a payout controversy which has remained unresolved nearly a month after the tour’s epic-fail launch.
The brand-new tour was aiming to carve out a niche in the US tournament circuit by hopefully becoming the biggest mid-major poker tour by the end of 2021, but the inaugural event, which took place in early October, turned out to be the first and the last for the tour, with more details emerging about its dubious operations.
Evading Responsibility
Dan Bekavac, the tour’s founder, has gone silent and appears to have reneged on his earlier promise to pay players the remaining amount due to them. The Illinois native released a statement a day after the debacle, owning up to his mistakes and pledging that he’d fix things.
But that was the last time players heard from Bekavac. He and his team had attempted to pay players with just 30 percent of their original winnings, but till date the payout distribution has yet to be completed.
It’s disappointing enough for players to know that they would not be receiving their actual prizes in full, but the fact that they have to wait this long for them to have a slice of their winnings adds to the frustration.
Players Consider Legal Action
Each of the top 31 players in the $1,100 Main Event initially received just $1,600 in cash (despite the minimum payout being $2,300), in accordance with the Illinois Charitable Gaming Acts and Regulations (230 ILCS30).
It was agreed that the remainder of their winnings would be given in precious metals, but everything became a mess when it emerged that the metals had been overvalued and that there was actually no trader available to buy them back.
Of the 31 affected players, only 19 were able to receive their payouts so far, for a combined $12,546 in prize money, not even reaching 20 percent of the $62,731 of the total amount that should have been paid back to the players.
Furthermore, majority of the remaining 12 players who were not paid yet were those who made the final table. In fact, only two of them, Rocco Pace and Nicola Ditrapani, who finished fourth and eighth respectively, were able to receive their prizes.
The player losing the biggest money is Main Event winner Renato Spahiu who had to settle for $17,638 in first place prize instead of the advertised top prize of $55,060.
Spahiu was only paid $1,600 and is still waiting for the remaining $16,038 to be given to him. But with how things currently look, Spahiu and the remaining players who have yet to receive their prizes might end up being unpaid as Bekavac and the rest of the organizers are now unreachable. Some of the affected players are now hinting at seeking a legal remedy to collect what’s owed to them.
All in all, the tour still needs to distribute $50,185 to the remaining 12 players.
Midway Club Terminated
When the payout controversy erupted, the PokerBros app had also been dragged into the picture after it was revealed that the players were forced to join Bekavac’s affiliate club on the PokerBros so they could take part in the tour. PokerBros denied any involvement with the controversy and said it was not in any away associated with the tour or the club and did not promote it.
The app immediately took action and banned Bekavac’s Midway Club for breaching its terms of service. Bekavac and the club’s unscrupulous dealings have also slowly come to light, with one agent comparing it to a Ponzi Scheme. The 4 KIDS Sake Inc charity which was supposed to benefit from 50 percent of the net proceeds in the tournament was only able to get $640 from a tip jar.  The charity is also considering legal action as their next step to resolve the matter.
It remains unclear whether an investigation has already been launched into the matter.