EBU Online Games- Ethics

Some members are concerned at the possibility of cheating when playing online. This possibility does exist in all online games (as in face-to-face games), but there are a number of things that can be done to minimise the risk.

The ACBL have successfully been running online games with masterpoints for many years, and their experience is that the scope for underhand behaviour is severely limited by having strict time limits per round, having a live TD on-site, and having a record logged of all bids, plays and exactly who took how long for each action.

We also note that these online results are linked to the players’ real offline presences too – they aren’t just anonymous statistics, but are people playing in the same games as others who they may know in real life. So while it might be possible for someone to do something underhand on a one-off basis (as they could in a club, with an accomplice), it’s unlikely that they could repeat it many times without their actions seeming strange enough that we would challenge them about it and indeed this is what has been happening with increasing frequency.

Let us be clear: cheating is cheating whether online or in a face-to-face game, and it will be subject to the same disciplinary processes, the same sanctions and the same possibility of being named publicly if convicted. Those who have concerns about the actions of another EBU member should raise them with the Secretary of the Laws and Ethics Committee, lecsec@ebu.co.uk and should not make public accusations or insinuations on social media.

Cases can be brought against EBU members playing in any online games,whether or not organised by the EBU. There has just been a conviction of one member for online cheating, which will be reported in full in English Bridge in September and there are a number of other cases in progress at the moment. It is expected that these will lead to more convictions with appropriate penalties including being publicly named.

WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THEREFORE THAT ANY MEMBER WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN TEMPTED TO DO ANYTHING ONLINE THAT IS NOT ALLOWED SHOULD TAKE THIS WARNING AS A SIGNAL TO STOP BEFORE THEY TOO ARE INVESTIGATED.

It is useful for reports of online bridge hands to be accompanied by a link .

BBO also has their own ethics department (abuse@bridgebase.com) which investigates and deals with all such matters that are raised with it, and apply sanctions of their own.

BBO records all table history including chat between individual players at a table. This can be accessed by our TDs but will only be used for the purposes of disciplinary and ethics cases or resolving disputes about timing or disclosure.