Lawsuit Threatens the Epic Poker LeagueFriday, September 16th, 2011 by Ryan
The Epic Poker League seems to be unable to avoid issues at each of their different events. While the first event featured Chino Rheem, and the issue of the multiple debts that he owed to other players, and the second event featured Michael DiVita not being allowed to participate in the Main Event which he qualified for, due to him being a registered sex offender; it seems as if the situation with DiVita won’t go away just as easily as the EPL had hoped. Actually, it could end up putting the EPL in the courtroom up against DiVita potentially.
Michael DiVita told his story of what happened in an interview after he made the final table and won his $20,000 Main EVent seat. DiVita then came back to play in the Main Event, when the officials and DiVita began having a fairly heated conversation. Stephen Martin, who is the EPL Standards and Ethics Committee chairman, told him that it was not in the best interests of the league or of DiVita himself to participate in this event, due to the fact that DiVita was a registered sex offender. DiVita stated that this was not a surprise to him, and that he said he would withdraw fro the event as long as he was paid the $20k entry fee that he had won during the Pro-Am. The EPL decided to decline on that offer instantly, and said that he would be refunded his $1500 buy-in (for the Pro-Am), and that they would say that DiVita decided to withdraw from the event voluntarily. DiVita decided that deal was unfair, and said that he would just play in the event instead. This is when everything took a turn for the worst, and the argument escalated between the two sides.
DiVita then said in the interview that Martin said that they will stop him and make it public, and he also called security to provide an intimidation level to the situation on him. DiVita decided in the end to take the $1500, and was escorted out of the casino. It would be simple if this was how it ended, but DiVita feels that he is still due the total $20k buy-in, and he stated that he would “like the balance sent to me within ten days”, and also that “if the money is not received by that date, I will file a lawsuit against Federated Sports & Gaming, the Epic Poker League, and all of its partners and principals”. He also said that this would be for more than just the $18,500 that he is owed, but also any additional damages.
The EPL sets a very high standard when it comes to player conduct, but it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. All players are forced to sign codes of conduct before playing in the league, which could potentially set up quite a situation if DiVita does decide to sue the league. One other issue that could come into play is that this is a past record that is being used against DiVita, and while it is not poker related; there could be quite a few members of the EPL that may have violated the code of conduct as well under these circumstances.