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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

GOLDEN PALACE, the shame and the stupidity: comments and follow up

There has been much positive comment on the Golden Palace "baby name buying" affair, which is also officially listed on the Golden Palace events page.

The matter was commented on by the webmaster of Gamblog.co.uk:

Using newborn babies as an advertising medium for online gambling is sick. When the teacher calls out the register for the new school day, I shudder to think that the roll call will include >> Johnny Doe, Janey Oh, Jimmy Bob and "Goldenpalace.com Silverman.

This was picked up by Australian portalmaster Deaning (Pokeranalysis.com) and posted in a thread at Casinomeister:

I thought it may be just a joke after the toasted sandwich incident...No it isn't. WTF? Sorry GP. Crossed my line big time! Streakers or sandwiches may be funny but children into the equation? What idiots run your promotions? Never mind. I will not promote you any longer. Children are precious."

He has also taken the decision to redirect all his Golden Palace links to the Save The Children charity!

What a very poetic response.

Bryan Bailey, Casinomeister webmaster, has now picked up on the report from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in which they state, in relation to the 2004 Athens Olympics sabotage:

Golden Palace will not use, promote, encourage or fund this type of 'marketing' ever again"

...and is going to do some investigating - Golden Palace are clearly in violation of the Commission's requirements.

Webmaster Deaning has also brought the matter to the attention of the forum members of his Pokeranalysis site. Here are some of their heartfelt comments:

That is insane, what is wrong with them???????, dude i woulda just given that lady money if i was Golden Palace. no sweat for them. that is terrible naming babies GoldenPalace.com for advertising, im never playin there. I couldnt believe the blaintenly* posted it on their website.

But seriously, those sick freaks, both the parents and Golden Palace. As a matter of fact I am really sick of GoldenPalace and their shitty publicity stunts like buying the virgin mary toast and all of that kind of crap.

The price they offered on the child is ridiculous. I know that the name of a baby is sacred and priceless, but 15k? These sleazeballs are insulting everyone with such a price. 15k for an advertisement in a child's name and futhermore all of the free press they are getting for the stunt is crazy.

This just makes me want to puke.

im not surprised, i knew something like this would happen

Some people will do anything to try and make a buck. Using our children is sick. Well, now there is a room for all the weird people to play at now.

...and many more.

The matter was also posted at Winneronline, and the to date only follow up comment has led to the commenting webmaster, Online Casino Reviewer, placing Golden Palace in his rogue casino section, with the following remarks:

Avoid this casino like the plague! Any group that would stoop so low as to buy the name for a new born child deserves contempt. I don't know who is worse Golden Palace or the parents. Thanks to Gamblog for bringing this to our attention. Golden Palace have shown by this action that they do not believe in responsible gambling and indeed will exploit children if they feel it can boost their profit margin."

The emotions raised by Golden Palace's "baby-naming" escapade have been powerful indeed.

The problem as I see it is: Golden Palace are without scruples or morals. It is therefore impossible for them to differentiate between what is acceptable and what isn't, in the way a moral and balanced person can. Buying cheese sandwiches for five-figure sums is just fine, if stupid. Sabotaging sporting events is unacceptable. Buying a baby's name and causig him the extraordinary level of ridicule he'll find himself at the receiving end of during his school years, is also unacceptable.

Sadly, Golden Palace do not understand where and when to draw the line.

And, most telling, they are in direct contravention of the Kahnawake ruling.

It'll be interesting to see how all this pans out.

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By Blogger Useful Talk, at 5:57 pm  

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

GAMBLING FEDERATION: from malware to larceny

Some software providers certainly know how to pile misconduct on top of misconduct.

In early 2005 it was discovered that the Gambling Federation casino group had added a piece of "malware" (malicious software) to their casino download packages, causing one of the registry keys of the users' computers to be changed and resulting in the the affected computers being unable to access the websites of a handful of Gambling Federation's competitor casinos.

Since computer-hacking is one of the worst cyber crimes in existence, Gambling Federation removed the malicious code as soon as they were caught and apologised for their over-zealous behaviour.

The fallout was tremendous: the group lost their membership of the two trade organizations to which they belonged - the IGC and the IGGBA, they were summarily placed on the Casinomeister rogue software list and they were vilified from all quarters of the industry.

Read the full story in the Gambling Federation malware thread at Casinomeister.

Sadly, it hasn't stopped there.

Recently, it came to public attention that Gambling Federation had revoked a gambler's €7000 winnings - approximately $9000 - for the given reason that the player had "multiple accounts". The player did indeed have many Gambling Federation accounts, but they were all at separate casinos, not the same casino, and there is nothing in the individual casino rules which prohibits this.

The rules for each casino state:

Player may only operate one active account at any time. Players opening multiple accounts without first voiding their existing account are subject to being excluded from the Casino with all wins forfeited. In order to void an account, Players must contact Customer Support.

There is no mention, on any Gambling Federation site, that the customer may not have individual accounts at any number of their casinos - all they rule against is having multiple accounts at the same casino - and there is no Gambling Federation "oversee" website which explains this.

In short: there is no way for customers to know that they may operate only one Gambling Federation account at a time, and that running more than one will result in any winnings being voided!

Furthermore, this would set a unique precedent: in the ten-year history of the online gambling business, NEVER has a software provider permitted only one account per customer over all the casinos under its wing. In fact, all things being equal, never has a customer been prevented from opening single accounts with ALL the license holders of a software provider. Of the 80 or so licensees of the Microgaming software, any one person may hold accounts at any and all those 80 casinos. The same goes for all the other providers.

So: does Gambling Federation truly want to limit customers to just the ONE account out of all 20 or 30 of their licensees?

Or is are they trying to find a rather creative way of avoiding a debt of $9000?

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

GOLDEN PALACE: the shame and the stupidity

Between late 1999 and mid 2000, the Golden Palace casino group stole substantial sums of money from participators in an extraordinarily poorly-conceived promotional campaign. Having sustained extreme losses, Golden Palace took the decision to claw back funds by simply voiding many players' winnings and not paying. In the end, some players were paid, some negotiated partial settlements and others simply gave up and left the online gambling scene, seriously disillusioned.

This was the first, and to date probably biggest, online casino scandal. Certainly, it involved the largest sums of money ever stolen by one casino group.

The Golden Palace fun and games did not end with this disgraceful affair; in more recent times, they've masterminded an advertising campaign based on performing outrageous stunts of various kinds, then sitting back and waiting for the journalists to get on the phone. The modus operandi of this campaign is twofold:

1) Buying various bizarre items on Ebay, for extortionate prices - such as grilled cheese sandwiches and celebrity pregnancy tests.

2) Hiring members of the public to perform acts of sabotage at major supporting events - most notoriously, the appearance of a Golden Palace employee at the 2004 Olympic Games, disrupting the Mens' Synchronized 3 Metre Springboard Finals and tarnishing the memory of what should have been a happy occasion for everyone involved, particularly the participants. This incident led to Golden Palace's inclusion in the Casinomeister rogue section.

Golden Palace Olympic Games 2004 publicity stunt

In short, there is little that is too tacky or repugnant for the Golden Palace publicity campaign strategists to keep off their shortlist of potential marketing gimmicks.

Their most recent strategem would appear to be "name buying" - acquiring the rights to name a child via Ebay auction:

TRENTON, N.J., May 25, 2005

With their latest eBay purchase, Internet casino GoldenPalace.com is well on their way to overtaking the name "Smith" in the telephone book. The headline-grabbing casino spent $15,000 to name another child GoldenPalace.com.

The bouncing baby boy's official name is GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman, and he was born a healthy seven pounds, ten ounces at 2:28 PM on May 19, 2005.

GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman is the latest in a series of eccentric advertising campaigns by the Internet casino. Other babies also share the casino's name, as well as Tennessee resident Terri Illigan, 33, who sold her naming rights on eBay for $15,199, and subsequently changed her name to GoldenPalace.com to help support her five children.

"We congratulate the new parents of GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman," said GoldenPalace.com CEO Richard Rowe. "We wish them and their beautiful baby boy all the best. You can expect more baby-naming in the future as I am sure other people will follow suit and be looking to auction off the naming rights to their children."

Setting the standard in marketing creativity, GoldenPalace.com has devised some of the most exciting and outrageous advertising campaigns in the past few years. Recently, items such as the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Britney Spears' Pregnancy Test, and Pope Benedict XVI's previously-owned VW Golf have garnered extensive worldwide media attention for the casino.

SOURCE: Kaleici Leisure.

It seems that there are no depths to which Golden Palace, perpetrator of the biggest online casino scandal in the short history of the industry, will not sink.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Russia looking for a bigger piece of the online casino pie

The New York casino in Moscow

The Russina online casino market might well operate in an absolutely grey area, nevertheless internet gambling is accelerating fast in Russia as established operators rush to get on the bandwagon.

Russia gaming regulators to not specifically include or exclude online services in their terms of licensing for land-based operators and no separate internet license is yet available.

Though telecoms infrastructure may still be patchy, bandwidth is cheap, and Russian players, the statistics suggest, spend long periods online. Consequently, two of the country's leading slot operators are working on internet casino projects. Sergey Kuzmine, CEO of Ritzio group, says that: "Ritzio is actively evaluating opportunities to enter the online market."

Meanwhile, Michael Boettcher's Storm Casinos are within weeks of opening the Storm online operation.

Peter Speight, director of Storm's online operations, says: "Support is very big in the Russian market. We estimate there are now 34 Russian language casinos on the internet, of which about 14 or 15 have customer support lines that appear to be operational."

But while Russian language sites are springing up, few are chosing to locate in the Russian Federation itself. Operators could, feasibly, base their servers in any region with a relatively tolerant local gaming authority, but tellingly, perhaps, the best-known Russian language online casino, goldfishka.ru, operates from the Kanhawake reservation in Canada. Storm's casino will be hosted in Caracao.

Only one region of Russia, a small autonomous Asian region called Kalmikia, on the Caspian Sea, has actually attempted to implement internet casino licensing, but lack of infrastructure there has meant that even small operators have chosen to stay closer to the main cities where bandwidth is abundant, or else locate to offshore jurisdictions familiar with the needs of online casinos.

A look at the Russian pages of sites like Goldfishka.ru reveals another fundamental difference with the Russian market. Gone are the Familiar Firepay and Neteller logos and in their place the most frequently used payment services are the domestic versions provided by Yandex, Web Dollar and Rapida.

From the June edition of Casino Review Online.

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Wan Doy Pairs Poker: a new Wagerworks poker game with a sting in the tail.

Recently introduced into the Wagerworks game suite, Wan Doy Pairs Poker is the latest in a long line of poker games played on the blackjack layout, following on from such games as Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Red Dog and Three Card Poker.

I tested the game extensively in free mode; my initial impression was that it played like a weighted slot machine - practically every playable hand I made was beaten and my bankroll dropped like a stone. However, I went back later and put in some hard work on the game, keeping careful note of all hands, and the overall results were sufficiently well balanced to persuade me that the game plays moreorless as it would play in a real casino.

The aim of Wan Doy is to make a better hand than the dealer.

The Wan Doy hand-ranks are as follows, from highest ranked to lowest:

4 of a kind + 3 of a kind
4 of a kind + pair
3 of a kind + 3 of a kind
3 of a kind + pair + pair
4 of a kind
Pair + pair + pair
3 of a kind + pair
3 of a kind
Pair + pair

There are two initial bets available: "ante" and "bonus", which cannot be made independently of each other, and a "jackpot" bet, which can be made both in addition to or independently of the other two bets. The "jackpot" bet only receives a payoff - starting at 12 to 1 - if the player makes three pairs or better.

After the player has placed the initial bets, player and dealer are now dealt seven cards each. The dealer's cards are unseen. The player must then decide whether to "call" or "fold"; if he folds, all bets are sacrificed and the next round gets underway; if he decides to call, an additional wager must be placed, in the "call" circle.

If the player wins, the "ante" bet is paid off at 1 to 1, irrespective of the resulting hand.

Unfortunately, the bonus bet is only treated as a win, and paid, if the player makes at least three of a kind. If he wins with just a pair, or two-pair, the bonus bet is returned only, it is NOT paid. See below - of the three square-shaped betting circles, the lower one is the "call" box, the upper left one the "ante" and the upper right the "bonus" bet:

Wan Doy bonus bet unpaid below three of a kind

The payoffs on the bonus bet then increase with the quality of the winning player hand, up to 100 to 1 for 4 of a kind + 3 of a kind.

When the dealer hand wins, even if he has only a pair, the player "bonus" bet is lost.

In other words: for the majority of Wan Doy hands, player wins result in the bonus bet being returned only, not paid, while losses result in the bet being taken by the house.

This would be rather comparable to a blackjack pair-splitting situation in which both hands win but only one hand is paid - the other winning hand being treated as a push!

Although the increased payoffs on the bonus bet for the better hands compensate in some way for this, as does the fact that the bonus bet is always paid when player makes three of a kind or better, even if the dealer's final hand is higher, these payoffs are not sufficient to balance out those "win treated as push" situations. For example, 4 of a kind is only paid at 10 to 1 on the bonus bet! This is a dreadful payoff for such a rare hand.

Wan Doy Pairs Poker is a game I advocate NOT.

If you're going to play it, make sure it's in "free" mode only!

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You have ommitted a very major point and that is, if in fact "THE DEALER" hits the jackpot hand then "THE PLAYER" gets gets paid odds as though he had hit the hand himself.

The payout odds for this game are over 98% which is comparable if not better than any other casino game on or off line.

Please check the rules of the game again and re-evaluate your opinion.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:33 am  

Thank you for the feedback - my apologies, I only just spotted your reply.

The 98% figure would seem to be dependent on which bets are played - the "jackpot" bet can only be hit if its been played.

There are three betting options:

1) Anti and Bonus
2) Anti, Bonus and Jackpot
3) Jackpot

What is the exact house edge on each of these combined bets? It cannot be 98% across the board. Also, what is your source? Michael Shakleford has not analysed the game to the best of my knowledge - at least, I can still find no reference to it in his Wagerworks section.

Bear in mind that the variance of a game like this is EXTREME - the jackpot bet is going to be rarely paid since it comes in only at three-pair or better. That, in combination with a reatively high house edge, does not make this a good game in my opinion.

True enough, there are video poker games with similar house edges and worse variance, and slots which are even worse again. Wan Doy is by no means the worst, it's just bad enough to not have my endorcement. Wagerworks has much better on offer.

Thanks very much again for your feedback.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 8:38 pm  


I am pleased to announce that 'THEWIZARDOFODDS' is the chief analyser of WANDOY.

ihope tis answer's your question.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:01 pm  

Well, he wasn't then, but he is now. I emailed Mike a couple of weeks ago about the game, and he's now done a review:


House edge is 1.78%, not as bad as slots, but four times worse than blackjack.

It remains a game I do not advocate.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 10:34 pm  

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Microgaming software 100% CPU usage, causing customers' computers to overheat and possibly incur damage.

It was recently brought to public attention that Microgaming software, when running on the user's computer, takes up 100% of the central processing unit, the "CPU". Other major softwares use from about 5% to 20%.

Whatever else full consumption of the CPU does, it certainly produces excessive heat: I ran a two-hour test on my own machine and watched it go from 52 degrees celcius up to 62, running a Microgaming viper download casino on autoplay.

In the past two years I have lost two hard drives due to inexplicable disc failure. I have also run Microgaming software for very extended periods. This may or may not be coincidence, but I am currently concerned that Microgaming may be causing users' computers to overheat to the extent that the lifetime of the disc is severely shortened.

Apparently, Microgaming are aware of the problem.

To date, they have taken absolutely no action.

Read the discussion in the Microgaming 100% CPU usage thread at Casinomeister.

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Have microgaming sorted the overheating problem?

Have they issued any statements regarding the viper software cpu usage?

By Blogger Gamblog UK, at 9:25 pm  

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Net Entertainment receives double RNG “certification”

Online casinos love their rubber stamps. The more logos and seals casinos carry on their homepages the happier they are. Most of them, sadly, are worthless: many RTGs still carry the "Safebet" logo, though "Safebet" was never anything more than a website owned by RTG themselves, and although RTG have long since abondoned the site, several RTGs still carry the "Safebet" stamp. Playtech casinos still carry the "OPA" logo, although the Online Players' Association is now nothing more than a one-man casino portal.

A recent trend is RNG certification: "the following stamp means that our casino deals a fair game", or something along those lines. This has little relevance to gamblers themselves, since we're in no way privvy to any of the processes that lead to the stamp, and as such we have no way of judging their worth.

There is only one relevant "seal": do the majority of players feel they are dealt a fair game?

That "seal" is worth ten times the combined weight of every certification logo invented in the ten years' history of the online gambling industry.

May 19, 2005

In a continuous effort to ensure compliance to the most rigorous standards, Net Entertainment has had its Random Number Generator (RNG) certified and approved by two independent certification bodies: Canada-based Technical Systems Testing (TST) and the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science (SKL).

The results of both certifications confirm that the RNG used in the industry leading Net Entertainment gaming platform, Casino Module, adheres to the requirements of highly regulated jurisdictions and yields results that meet the strictest criteria for randomness.

Our clients have come to trust our solution as the most reliable and secure gaming platform on the market. This certification is a seal of credibility and fairness which extend to our clients, aiding them in their ambition to provide an exciting and trustworthy online gaming experience to their customers"; says Net Entertainment CEO Pontus Lindwall.

Net Entertainment is a leading supplier of Online Casino Software. Over 30 renowned online gaming operators have chosen the Net Entertainment casino solution and growth in no. of new licensees during 2004 surpasses that of any of our competitors.

Net Entertainment is the Internet gaming division of Cherry, a company with more than 40 years of experience from land based gambling. Cherry is listed on the Swedish Stock Exchange and have more than 350 land based casino licenses and over 800 employees.

Source: Kaleici leisure

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I do not think TST or the Swedish Laboratories are on the same level as SafeBet. SB was clearly a portal operated by the software company, whereas these two compliance businesses are independant of the online casinos they certify. In fact, most of their clients come from the world of land-based gaming, and internet sites are a small portion of their portfolio.

The problem comes when these compliance certificates are presented as proof that a casino is fair. All they really prove is that the copy of the software they submitted is fair, but that does not mean it is the same software being used. Until an iGaming jurisdiction steps up to the plate and implements actual control-based safeguards, there is no way for anyone to say with absolute certainty that any internet casino is fair. That's not to say that they are unfair, just that there is no way for us to know.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:34 am  


Safebet was not intended as comparable to TST, morally or otherwise, simply an example of a well known casino certificaton logo. The OPA on the other hand was once highly regarded: how is one to know that these days it's nothing more than a One Man Band casino portal, reduced to such as a direct result of its undisclosed financial ties with Playtech, the very sofware brand it claims to "verify"? In fact, how is one to know the same about Safebet?

Only a player in the know can be aware of such things, and yet these stamps still exist on Playtech and RTG casino sites, as ostensible proof of a fair game

I agree entirely that, while it may be the case that the testing entity is reputable, the product tested may be distinct from the product delivered to the gambler.

Remember the Casino Bar experiment? When Michael Shakleford retested the software, at the behest of the casino, he received a fair game. Then, cynic that he (fortunately) was, he retested a second time, but from another person's account, and voilà! - the same cheating game.

Somehow, they'd engineered a fair game to his account.

Until both 1) all aspects of the testing are beyond reproach and 2) the tested version is guaranteed identical to the version delivered to the player, these supposed compliance certificates have marketing value to the casinos, but are irrelevant to the gambler.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Cryptologic celebrates William Hill casino deal

William Hill has revamped its online casinos with CryptoLogic named as preferred supplier for its UK-sterling and US-dollar download casinos, with Boss Media offered only to its Euro download players.

The firm had been running both Boss Media and CrytpoLogc casinos on its website since early 2003, but has made the switch as part of a new annual review process.

Lewis Rose, chief executive of CryptoLogic, told investors in a conference call he was "thrilled and delighted" at the firm's decision.

William Hill made a decision based on the quality and depth of the games and the larger jackpots...our software is superior," Rose said.

But Peter Nolan, head of William Hill's interactive division, said it should not be interpreted as his firm "dropping" Boss.

"We are looking to preference from a marketing point of view the strongest product which in the case of Sterling and Dollar download casino is Cryptologic," Nolan said.

"What this means is that the Cryptologic casino has preference on our homepage and in our marketing for our sterling and dollar download casinos.

The converse of this approach is that we will preference Boss where they have a stronger product than Cryptologic (or other suppliers).

So for instance we use Boss for sterling instant and mobile, and Euro instant and download casinos (all languages)."

Both CryptoLogic and Boss released positive results last week with CryptoLogic recording record earnings of US$4.8m for Q1 2005.

Total revenues at CryptoLogic for the period were up 33% to US$20.3m, thanks in part to 200% growth in its poker division.

Financially it was a mixed period for Boss as operating profit fell by 16% to US$1.46m compared with the same period in 2004, despite royalty revenues jumping 73% to US$5.85m.

But this was put down to the one-off revenues gained last year from the sale of its in-house casino, Gold Club Casino, for US$1.45m.

The firm also said it suffered from changes in exchange rates over the course of the period, which it claimed wiped an additional US$0.55m off its quarterly profits.

Source: Egaming Review

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Casino growth slower than poker in 2005, according to Cryptologic

Casino sector suffering from slowdown in 2005

Growth in the online casino sector continues to be eclipsed by poker, according to the latest results from software firm CryptoLogic.

Huge growth in poker has pushed Q1 earnings up by 27% to US$4.8m compared to the same period in 2004 for the Canadian software provider.

Poker now comprises 25% of total revenues at CryptoLogic, up from 12% at the same time last year.

But the leap in poker revenues came against a backdrop of a less inspiring 6% rise over Q1 2004 in casino revenues.

Publicly listed casino firm Gaming VC saw their revenues climb by 11% for Q1 2005 compared to the same period in 2004.

But a great deal of anecdotal evidence from the online casino sector points to low growth rates over the past 12 months.

And it is in marked contrast to the spiralling growth of the poker sector, which continues to drive expansion at most of the biggest egaming firms.

Total revenues at CryptoLogic for the period were up 33% to US$20.3m, thanks in part to 200% growth in its poker division.

CryptoLogic powers the poker rooms for Intercasino, William Hill and Betfair, among others.

And Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic's chief executive, said the results confirmed the firm's position as "the blue-chip egaming software company".

The firm also continued its expansion beyond the US market, with earnings generated from non-US players now accounting for over 60% of total revenues.

Source: eGaming Revue

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Monday, May 16, 2005

English Harbour end up paying the player in spite of apparent “security flags”

Online casinos have been robbing or attempting to rob players since the first casino opened its doors in the mid 1990s. Fortunately, this rarely happens with reputable casinos, and if it does happen, there is almost invariably a fair resolution to the problem. Sometimes there is a simple misunderstanding that needs ironing out, sometimes it turns out to be a case of player fraud, sometimes the casino makes a bad decision but can be persuaded to change its mind by the online community of players, portals and industry observers.

Sometimes, however, even the most ostensibly reputable casino just "tries it on".

In early May 2005 a player opened accounts and made deposits at two of the English Harbour group of OddsOn-powered casinos - English Harbour and Silver Dollar. He did not request any sign-up bonuses. At one of the casinos he lost his deposit, and at the other he won a small sum - and requested his winnings.

The casino denied his withdrawal request, citing "security flags" as the reason, and offered to refund his deposit. They did NOT offer to refund the deposit at the casino at which he lost. Neither was the precise nature of the "security flags" revealed.

On 10th May, the player complained at the online casino complaints forum at Casinomeister, claiming justifiably that he was being robbed. Since there was no tangible reason given as to why the player should not be paid, there was general consensus that the casino was in the wrong - and webmaster Bryan Bailey contacted them.

On 11th may, the player was paid in full - including his winnings! No explanation was given about the "security flags", nor was any reason forthcoming regarding what had so completely changed as to warrant full payment to the player after the initial denial.

Read the full discussion in the English Harbour Group Warning discussion thread at Casinomeister.

Unfortunately, this is by no means an isolated incident: casinos, even reputable ones, occasionally try to put one over the player for no particular reason. Occasionally these things come about through genuine misunderstandings and oversights, but when there is no reason given as to why the casino goes from "no pay" to "pay", we're clearly dealing with nothing more than an attempt to steal from the player.

Why is this?

One can only speculate along the following lines: a relatively limited amount of the online gambling public are aware of the necessary steps to take when they have a casino problem, and where to take those steps - approximately one in ten. The other nine out of ten players have no idea what to do or where to go. It stands to reason, therefore, that casinos have a nine out of ten chance of getting away with stunts like this. For every ten players cheated, only one will know the correct path to take to recover their rightful winnings.

As such, these tricks are profitable to the casinos, be they reputable or disreputable.

What a pity.

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When is a fraudster not a fraudster?

Casinos often require various security documents from players in order to process a cashout - proof of age, identification and address, evidence that the credit / debit card is genuine and not either stolen or faked, and a signed affidavit that the player agrees not to dispute the credit card charge.

If a player supplies a fake document to the casino, is he entitled to his winnings in the event that the document did not show contravention of rules at the particular casino in question? Or is the supplying of ANY fake document, breaching the casino terms and conditions and evidence of clear fraud, practised if not at this casino then certainly elsewhere, sufficient for the casino to justifiably confiscate the player’s winning?

This matter was discussed at Casinomeister recently: the player deposited, won and withdrew; he was then asked to supply proof of age. The document he supplied was a fake - he'd created it, by his own admission, for the purposes of playing underage at a previous casino that had a minimum age of twenty-one - an age he had not yet reached. However, the minimum age at this subsequent casino was eighteen, and the player was not contravening their terms by playing there - he had supplied the fake document by mistake, intending as he had been to supply his genuine proof of age.

Since he didn't break any rules at this casino, other than "accidently" supplying a fake document and thus also providing evidence of previous fraud against other casinos, should he be paid?

Read the full discussion at Casinomeister.

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New Playtech blackjack games - blackjack surrender and single deck

In late March 2005 Playtech introduced two new blackjack games - "blackjack surrender" and "single deck".

Both these games are an improvement on their standard blackjack game with its 0.52% house edge, although the rules for the single deck game are so bad that it really isn't all THAT much better!

Blackjack Surrender: this is a standard six deck game with good rules - S17, DOA, DAS, OBO - plus the additional option to "surrender"; see the blackjack rules definitions section of the Blackjack Overview page for details. The house edge, with accurate play, is 0.36%. The basic strategy tables can be found on the Playtech basic strategy charts page.

Blackjack Single Deck: the rules here are H17, D10, no DAS, OBO; doubling and splitting is VERY restricted, and this has a strong effect on the house edge - 0.42%. The respective basic strategy chart can again be found on the Playtech basic strategy charts page.

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“Integrity” casino group audits for “suspect wagering” and “skimming”

On 10th March 2005, the group of Microgaming casinos going under the name Integrity Casinos Limited circulated an email to large numbers of players advising them of an "audit" that was taking place, as a result of certain players who had apparently "taken unfair advantage" of their promotions. It was extremely unclear how these players had actually broken any of the the terms and conditions they'd played under, and a consensus began to slowly develop that something was going badly wrong at the casino, possibly as a result of a cash flow problem.

One noteable point raised in the email was that players could request an immediate refund of their DEPOSITS, if they had not played blackjack during the promotion. Blackjack had not been disallowed previously, when these players had deposited and played, but at this point the rules had been changed to specifically exclude the game. The obvious concern at this point was: will the casino try to hold those blackjack players to the NEW terms, introduced AFTER they'd deposited and played?

A week later, on 17th march, the casino group issued a statement. In keeping with the vast majority of their statements, it was vague and used language that hinted at foul play without ever giving details of what had happened - they claimed "suspect wagering" had occured. Noone was ever enlightened as to what this meant. It also made the point that they had decided to take a stance against players who were not looking for "genuine gaming entertainment" and were entirely profit-orientated.

The first of a series of press-releases from the highly regarded "Infopowa" online casino news service focussed its comments on the casino's stated desire to get rid of those "undesireable" players, and not the vague, veiled threats about apparent wrongdoing on the part of players who did not seem to have actually committed any crimes, other than to win using bonuses and to thus show their hands as profit-orientated and not there for the "entertainment".

This created some heated discussions.

Further statements were then forthcoming from the casino: a representative posted comments at Casinomeister, making the same darkly-suggestive comments about "suspect wagering", "skimming", and "individuals intent on rorting systems". Again, nothing was clarified - no more than it was in a statement issued to the Gone Gambling website, which gave us more about "bonus abuse", "suspect accounts" and players who weren't there for the "entertainment" on offer, but no specifics as to the intended actions with regard to those players who had followed the terms and conditions exactly to the letter, but who were "undesireable" in the casino's eyes.

The next press release issued by Infopowa shifted focus from any supposedly edifying actions on the part of the casino to "clean house" and get rid of unwanted players, to what was now clearly an intention to rob legitimate players of their legitimate winnings.

In the most ground-breaking development to date, on March 25th "Casino Rewards" - another long-standing Microgaming group - announced they had taken over the "Integrity" casinos. No mention was made about the issue of locking accounts and threatening to revoke winnings from blackjack players. However, another press released issued to another webmaster said that they intended to "pay all players and affiliates who deserve payments". The word "deserved" caused some concern, since it implied that judgement criteria other than the simple letter of the law might be applied.

However, payments eventually started to come through - and within the month, all players who had submitted complaints to Casinomeister had been paid in full.

No further mention was made of "suspect accounts", "skimming" or "players playing for financial gain and not entertainment", and no more was heard from the representatives of either Integrity or Casino Rewards on the matter.

Read the full story in the Integrity audit thread at Casinomeister.

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