Shane Bridges, a former spokesperson for disgraced online poker site Lock, has opened up about a culture of mismanagement and excess within the company.
In an interview with Pokerfuse this week, Bridges also said that he feels it’s now unlikely that Lock’s players will be reunited with their funds.
It’s estimated that the offshore, unregulated US-facing site owes its former players somewhere in the region of $15 million.
Asked whether the players’ money is now gone, Bridges said: “I never had access to any real financials, but with no significant movement on cashouts and promises of the big turnaround now being 12 months old it would be my assumption that player balances won’t be honored now.”
Bridges believes that the failure of the company can be attributed to several factors, from Lock’s unsustainable low margin marketing, to constant network changes and sporadic seizures of processors by the US government, but also to a culture of corporate excess.
“Lifestyle spends were the classic big business thing of $500 bottles of wine with every single meal, Vintage Dom any time champagne was drunk, and insane overtipping,” he said. “Overspending of management was the business related costs which again was just over the top extravagance. First class flights everywhere for Jen [Larson, CEO and founder] and Brendan [Young, programmer], insane boutique 5 star hotels everywhere.”
Lock Poker was one of a handful of well-known online poker rooms that opted to continue taking American bets post-Black Friday, and enjoyed rapid growth by filling the vacuum left by the departure of PokerStars and others.
Despite the illegality, the company marketed aggressively to US players, building up a roster of pros that included Mike Mizrachi and Annette Obrestad.
Lock ’em Up
Soon, however, complaints of slow cash-outs began to build, and an apparent breakdown of communication between the operator and its customer base created a growing sense of alarm. By early 2013 it was clear that something was seriously wrong, and players began selling accounts on the secondary market for below face value.
Meanwhile, Lock continues to operate, claiming that it processes withdrawals within eight to ten weeks, despite all evidence to the contrary.
“Early 2013 I thought the company had one last shot to climb back out of the hole it had put itself in,” said Bridges. “As each month passed I saw less and less possibility of this happening to the point that by June/July 2013 my belief in the company had pretty much been completely erased.
“By December I had no faith but wanted to keep quiet for a couple more months just in case Jen did pull a rabbit out of the hat and get the cash injection needed to at least make good on player balances.”