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Sunday, January 29, 2006

GAMBLING FEDERATION: a discussion at the ICE


On day one of the London International Casino Exhibition I stumbled across Gambling Federation, quite by chance as I was wandering around looking at the various stalls.

I spoke briefly to Federico Fogli and G-Fed CEO Flaviano Fogli that day, hoping to get an explanation for their disallowing the $9000 win of a player who did not break any of the stated terms (see the Giant Vegas article). The case was discussed at Casinomeister, and also at the GPWA, where it was principally mediated - a mediation which failed to recover a cent for the player, although he subsequently received back all his deposits after Bryan Bailey got onto them.

I asked Federico what they considered "fraud" ? financial fraud, or more than this?

Yes, more. The Foglis consider both financial fraud and "game fraud"; game fraud being new to me, I asked Federico for clarification. On this matter we got no further than "play patterns", which was consistent with the comments made by all those GPWA members who expressed an opinion.

Beyond this Federico would not go, but suggested I speak to their Director Of Operations, Clovis Cuqui, who could give me more details. We fixed an appointment for the next day.

Flaviano came across just before I left. I recapped a bit of what I'd detailed to Federico, and stressed that the opinion that rules are binding was one shared by most of the online gambling community, including the likes of Bryan Bailey. It was an amusing moment when Flaviano gave a theatrical and dismissive gesture with his hands and with his heavy Italian accent said "Bryan?? He ALWAYS disagree with us!!"

I spoke with Clovis the next day. He's a very pleasant fellow indeed, and he gave me fully 45 minutes of his time, in the process making himself late for his subsequent appointment by 20 minutes.

"Game fraud": what is it, and how can you fairly hold gamblers to something like this which is not detailed in ANY term or ANY condition, anywhere?

Game fraud, for Gambling Federation, is playing in a way designed to optimise the bonus, on the part of a player who clearly has no intention of a lasting relationship with the casino beyond said bonus. That this apparent fraud is not listed is not inconsistent with aspects of financial fraud, every aspect of which ? chargebacks, fake credit cards etc etc ad inf ? is not necessarily detailed. If all aspects of genuine financial fraud are not detailed, why is it inconsistent to not detail aspects of game fraud?

I pointed out that financial fraud, and all aspects thereof, are commonly understood by the gambling public, whether or not all possible aspects are listed. "Game fraud" is not - and that to claim the two are identically understood is pretty rich. In fact, "game fraud" is an online casino invention. I asked Clovis how a player is to KNOW about this, and if any player would ever touch a Gambling Federation casino knowing that they might confiscate winnings on the basis of "game fraud".

Clovis made two points: in the first place, the majority of their player base will never encounter this problem, and barely even understand or sympathise with the issue, because the practice is the realm of only a specific player-type, the advantage player, who is very much in the minority. In the second place, this player, the advantage player, knows exactly what he is doing. He is no injured innocent, and must accept winnings-confiscation as part of the risks of the trade - he is creating the problem for himself by these tactics. Also, the player in question received back all his deposits. I should add that Clovis had a VERY clear understanding of the nature of the player's play: he was not just bitching about paying a big winner.

I tried to generalise the issue with this question:

As a player, if I follow, and infringe none of, the stated rules, is it unreasonable of me to expect to be paid?

Clovis's response was to say that no, it was not an unreasonable expectation on my part. However, he maintained that it was also not unreasonable for Gambling Federation to apply their own rules, stated or otherwise, on a case-by-case basis.

I then asked: if Gambling Federation were operating within a regulated environment, how long would they last? Clearly, the likes of Microgaming and Cryptologic would not have much of a problem. Gambling Federation, applying unstated rules at their discretion, would surely not last a day?

Clovis's answer was that in the event of operating within the jurisdiction of a regulatory body they would apply the rules of said jurisdiction. These would be many and varied, dependent on the body in question. Outside of any such jurisdiction, they apply their rules as they see fit so to do. They cannot apply such rules when such rules don?t exist.

He also threw into the melting pot that no affiliate would be affected by things like this, and that affiliate payments would not change in any way. I'm not sure why I was told this because I didn't initiate the matter, although I did mention Cindy Carley (the GPWA mediator) - for no reason other than hoping to give myself some street-cred as someone who knew what they were talking about. I cannot see how a $9000 payment would not affect the affiliate's commission, however, otherwise the books don't balance.

As I said above, this was an extremely pleasant and likeable fellow, who gave me far more of his time than he should have and I think probably pissed off his boss, Flaviano, for the rest of the day for being so late for his next meeting. In fact, it was I who called an end to our chat ? he gave absolutely no indication of being in any kind of a rush at any point.

However, I disagree with Clovis in several areas.

In the first place, that the player receives back his deposits does NOT level the playing field, because he does NOT receive them back when he LOSES ? this is a crucial difference. If winning results in no more than your deposits back you are at an almighty disadvantage, because at the risk of stating the obvious, gambling is not just about losing or breaking even. Winning comes into the equation.

In the second place, although I understand where they are coming from on the matter of advantage players who know what they?re doing, the "regular" gamblers having no problems etc etc etc, I do not support that undisclosed aspects of "game fraud" is an acceptable way to behave - and neither does the industry at large, let's face it. At the end of the day, I cannot believe that any player, slot junkie or smart, would willingly deposit at any casino that's known to behave in this way.

On the basis of this alone, Gambling Federation can never have my own seal of approval.



2 Previous Comments


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Saturday, January 28, 2006

PLAYTECH: meeting with the player dispute service manager at the London ICE


I attended days one and two of the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) at London's Earls Court exhibition centre last week, 24th and 25 January 2006. I had two interesting meet-ups, with Playtech and Gambling Federation. The G-Fed report will follow soon.

I met up with Iris Toledano, the young lady in charge of the Playtech "player disputes service", on day one. I must have spent a good half hour in her company - hope I didn't make you late for any appointments, Iris!

I started out asking how she thought the dispute service was fairing generally, since player-perception is unfavourable. She was not of this opinion at all, reckoning that it was moreorless on track. Following on from that, I highlighted the recent handful of cases - Giant Vegas, Swiss Casino and Vegas Red. It would probably be asking a lot for her to have facts about specific complaints sitting at the top of her head in any event. In these circumstances, being focussed on other things totally and then being called to task on this matter, it's maybe not unreasonable that these recent cases mentioned at Casinomeister were not familiar to her at all.

Moving away from specific cases, I asked for her take on one of the apparently contentious issues: games which don't count towards bonus wagering but are not excluded, which the casino then uses as justification for winnings-confiscation. On THIS matter at least, I thought Iris played the political card a bit too much - she told me that on these matters she had to consult their legal folk and could not give a general answer, only a specific answer to a specific case. I suggested that the distinction is really pretty plain. Although unwilling to give her personal take, she did go on to say, revealingly, that other factors concerning the player history would come into the discussion: bonuses, how much wagering beyond bonus requirements etc. I asked if these "other" areas would have an impact on the final payment decision; again, only specific cases would be looked at, not general answers to general questions.

However: notwithstanding the requirements to get the legal team onto what players see as fairly cut and dry matters, Iris stated that as far as she's concerned, whatever agreement the player signs up to is binding, and that the rules as they are / were at the time of signup is the only relevant consideration. This does NOT square with the "player history" aspect that was originally thrown into the melting pot, but it was a positive.

Iris made me aware that she is only one corner of the dispute / casino / player triangle, and as such ends up with problems that are not of her own creation: casinos are varying in their responsiveness, as are PLAYERS. I concur with this: some of the posted complaints see little interest from the player in question after the first post - see the Swiss Casino complaint thread at casinomeister - he vanished for eleven days after posting his complaint. If the player fails to follow through, Iris will give it a fortnight or so and then close the case. This is perfectly acceptable, since one can only assume that the player has accepted the decision. The player may then subsequently return and complain that the decision was unfair and why did he not hear more? I quite understand that this is a legistical problem for her, not of her creation. If players don't care, why should she?

Since Iris was unaware of the cases I mentioned - Giant Vegas, Swiss and Vegas Red - she asked me to email her specifics. This I am happy to do, but it's really up to the PLAYERS to follow these things through. I will, however, email her links for the threads in question.

Although there were some aspects of the initial part of the discussion that I was worried about - the possible "player history" aspect of a case beyond simple adherence to the rules - I found Iris's attitude pretty much in tune with what would generally be regarded as correct by the player community, and I think the Playtech dispute service has a good chance under her management.



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I cashed out my winnings of $75.00 on September 11th, 2006 (almost two months ago). After quite a few emails back and forth with support I was told that I needed to send a copy of two of my utility bills and a copy of my picture ID, which I did. Then I was told that I needed to also send a copy of the front and back of my credit card. Then I was told that I needed to send my credit card statement. I was not happy about the escalation of things that were needed to process my $75 check, but reluctantly I faxed all of the documents that were requested. Onlybingo.com, to this day, has not processed my withdrawal request. Who do I go to to complain and file a petition to get my check? Isn't it unlawful for a company to hold money that does not belong to them? Any help on this subject?

By Blogger Suzette, at 1:49 am  


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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

PLAYTECH: dramatic escallation of winnings-confiscation issues. Giant Vegas, Swiss Casino and Vegas Red


There has been a recent dramatic increase in the number of player complaints lodged against Playtech casinos. The nature of the complaints is usually bonus-related, with an invariably large sum of money being confiscated by the casino on the basis of the clause which states "We reserve the right to withhold any sum, for any reason, at our sole discretion", or words to that effect.

All casinos carry this clause; however, only the criminal element actually invokes it as justification for denying winnings on the basis of anything other than 1) player infringement of the terms and conditions they signed up to or 2) player fraud.

Invocation of this clause on ANY other basis is the behaviour of fraudsters and conmen.

Unfortunately, the management of many Playtech operations now come under this heading: fraudsters and conmen.


This article is long; please click on the links below and navigate to the section you want to read:

Giant Vegas

Swiss Casino

Vegas Red



Giant Vegas


A player is currently being denied a cashout for $4879 on the basis that he played roulette for the Giant Vegas signup promotion - a $200 sticky bonus for a $200 deposit - and that roulette was in fact an "excluded game", a game the playing of which entitles the casino to revoke any winnings.

However, roulette was NOT excluded from the terms when he signed up - see below:


Giant Vegas terms


If you look at the current terms, you'll see that the casino is quite capable of stating that certain games are "excluded" as opposed to "not counting":


Giant Vegas current terms



Video Poker is an excluded game and may not be played until such time as the wagering requirements for this particular bonus have been met. The Casino reserves the right to withhold any amount in excess of the player's original deposit from a player's withdrawal if the bonus is wagered on the above games, before the wagering on allowed games is completed fully.


However, roulette was not excluded when the player played - it simply didn't count in the wager calculations - see the first screenshot above:


Bets on roulette...do not count towards the wagering requirements.


Having initially denied the cashout on the basis that the player played this "excluded" game - which he didn't - an affiliate representative for the casino suggested that there were also issues of fraud:


All I can say is that there are three accounts with exactly the same play, opened on the same day (along with other warning signs that they employ wrt fraud) and that is reason enough.


No evidence was ever presented to add any weight to the argument that these four players may have been the same player, or that anything genuinely fraudulent had occurred.

Additionally, this affiliate recently ended his affiliate programme's relationship with Giant Vegas, having apparently failed to broker a settlement:


I have tried all I can to remedy this issue, to no avail. I have also cancelled the contract with BetRev which is the affiliate program for Giant Vegas and Royal Dice. I will therefore no longer be associated with the program, although I will continue to try and resolve issues relating to their performance to ensure that affiliates are treated fairly.


Giant Vegas operated originally on the RTG software platform, changing to Playtech in 2004; whilst with RTG, they had a reputation as slow-payers, and in fact it took affiliate intervention for me to receive a $1400 cashout.

Since the move to Playtech, things appear to have deteriorated further.

The matter is ongoing, and can be read in detail in the Giant Vegas thread at Casinomeister.


Swiss Casino


A player signed up and deposited at Swiss Casino, taking the new player signup bonus. He played blackjack and videopoker, and cashed out a $6000 win.

The casino confiscated his $6000 winnings.

Subsequently, the player received the following communication from them:


Before processing your withdrawal request we have noticed a pattern of bonus abuse in your game sessions.

Due to this we have subtracted the bonus money that was given to you and your winnings, processing only your original deposit.


They cited the usual catchall clause as justification:


The Casino reserves the right to refuse or rescind the bonus for any reason including, but not restricted to, player abuse. In case of abuse, the Casino reserves the right to discontinue player's membership and to prevent the player from accessing the Casino in the future.


The player followed the rules he signed up under; in fact, he didn't even play any of the "non-counting" games:


Bets placed on Baccarat, Craps, Roulette, and Sic Bo do not count towards the first deposit bonus wagering.


Would Swiss Casino have "detected a pattern of bonus abuse" if the player had lost, and refunded his deposit? Of course not.

This is the classic win-win online casino scenario - if you lose: thanks very much for the money; if you win: here's your deposit back but we're keeping the winnings.

The casino may block him from future promotions, they may even close his account - but he must be paid first. If not, Swiss Casino should be considered a rogue operation and avoided at all costs.


Read the currently ongoing discussion in the Swiss Casino thread at Casinomeister.


Vegas Red


A player deposited for the first time at Vegas Red Casino, receiving a £50 signup bonus. The main terms he signed up under, listed on the signup bonus page, were as follows - important text highlighted in bold:


In the interest of fair gaming, we ask that you wager a minimum of fifteen (15) times your play bonus plus deposit (15 x (bonus + deposit) before requesting a withdrawal.

Wagers placed on the following games will not count towards fulfilling your minimum wagering requirements on the above £888 welcome bonus offer: Any versions of Baccarat, Craps, all versions of Roulette, all versions of Sic Bo, all Video Poker games, Blackjack Switch and Blackjack Surrender.


The listed games are not excluded, they simply do not count towards the wagering requirements of the received bonus.

Vegas Red Casino proceeded to deny his £1700 winnings ($3200 USD), and refunded his purchase, with the following explanation:


As mentioned in welcome Bonus terms of use, bets placed on all versions of Baccarat, Craps, all versions of Roulette, all versions of Sic Bo, all Video Poker games, Blackjack Switch and Blackjack Surrender do not count towards wagering, and the Casino reserves the right to withhold any amount in excess of the player's original deposit from a player's withdrawal if the bonus is wagered on the above games, before the wagering on allowed games is completed fully.


On the face of it, this is a complete contradiction; these games are "allowed", they simply don't count towards the wagering calculations. If they wanted to EXCLUDE these games from bonus wagering, they could word it as in the Giant Vegas case:


Video Poker is an excluded game and may not be played until such time as the wagering requirements for this particular bonus have been met. The Casino reserves the right to withhold any amount in excess of the player's original deposit from a player's withdrawal if the bonus is wagered on the above games, before the wagering on allowed games is completed fully.


This rule is correct; that non-counting games are the same as excluded games is plainly incorrect.


However, Vegas Red have managed a very, very crafty trick:

The rules on the bonus page are seemingly clear enough - they list the wagering requirements and the non-counting games; most players would look no further than this since all the relevant information is apparently contained therein.

This would be a mistake.

At the bottom of each web page is a list of links; in the middle of these there is a "terms of use" link; click on this link and you navigate to the "user-end agreement"; the agreement starts out with "definitions", followed by "legal requirements", "security" and so forth.

Scroll right to the bottom and you come to "reservation of rights"; scroll right to the bottom of THIS section and you can find the following piece of extremely relevant bonus-text, buried deeply in this apparently bonus-irrelevant user agreement:


We reserve the right to withhold any amount in excess of the player's original deposit from a player's withdrawal if the play bonus is wagered in any versions of Baccarat, Craps, all versions of Roulette, all versions of Sic Bo, all Video Poker games, Blackjack Switch and Blackjack Surrender.


This extremely relevant text - that these games are not only non-counting but also EXCLUDED - is not mentioned on the bonus page; it is only mentioned on this most dry, dull, legalistic and lengthy agreement page, where almost no player would ever think to look.

In this way, Vegas Red Casino ensures that players will accept the signup bonus and play a bunch of games which are seemingly acceptable but simply not included in the wagering conditions, whilst craftily locking them into a no-win situation with this deeply-buried rule. If the player loses, the casino will keep his deposit; if the player wins, the casino will invoke this hidden clause to confiscate their winnings.

Read the discussion in the Vegas Red thread at Casinomeister.


There are four casinos in the Vegas Red Casino group:

Vegas Red
Casino Tropez
Casino Del Rio
Europa Casino


These casinos use cheap tricks to entice players into playing games that will lock them into no-win situations, in which they will never be able to cash out a win.

Avoid these four rogue operations at all costs.


Here is the full list of all Playtech licensees and sister casinos mentioned in this article:

Giant Vegas
Royal Dice
Swiss Casino
Casino Las Vegas
50 Stars Casino
Casino King
Vegas Red
Casino Tropez
Casino Del Rio
Europa Casino



All these casinos should be treated with extreme caution.



2 Previous Comments


hi last night i won a progressive jackpot on wall street at class1 casino.they gave me £8 to ply with i progressed to £88 then all of a suden hey presto i won £27,898.65p well support were quick to congratulate me on my win but now i have been told that although it was there £8 pound i could only max cash out at £50 rip off yeah so then she follows up with we have talked to the mangement and they said i could take £2000 and the rest is void. but how can you void 23,898.65(i spent some more) of which others have contributed to i need help nd fast thanks tony

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:11 pm  


There may be a cap on no-deposit bonuses. It looks like, and is, a ripoff, but if that term is stuck somewhere in the rules there won't be much you can do.

Try complaining to Casinomeister:

http://www.casinomeister.com/problems.php

You can post here:

http://www.casinomeister.com/forums/casino-complaints-non-bonus-issues/

It's not what you want to hear, but if it IS a no-deposit bonus cap issue, you realistically you have no chance of collecting. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 6:31 pm  


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Friday, January 13, 2006

CHARTWELL: a software provider that refuses to support its players


Back in mid 2003, a player at one of the Chartwell-powered casinos, Carib Sunshine, suffered a loss of $600 when the casino went out of business. The matter was reported and discussed in the Casinomeister Carib Sunshine thread.

In response to an enquiry from the aggrieved player, Chartwell had the following to say:


We are in receipt of your email and would like to clarify our position as the software supplier to Caribe Sunshine Casino. Unlike many other software suppliers Chartwell Technology is strictly a software development company and only license the use our products for a variety of online applications. We do not participate in any aspect of the daily operations of our customers business, which includes hosting, customer support, database and money management.

Caribe Sunshine entered into a licensing agreement with Chartwell to use a copy of our software with the intent to operate an online casino. Chartwell's responsibility and obligation to Caribe Sunshine is to support them technically. 100% of their daily operation is the responsibility of Caribe Sunshine. It is unfortunate that their business was not successful and they decided to close their online operation.

In closing, we would like to express our understanding with your frustrations with Caribe Sunshine and will attempt to pass on your email to the contact information we have on file. We cannot make any assurances beyond that with respect to a response or explanation, it is strictly the customer's responsibility."


In other words: in the event that a licensee causes financial loss to its players, for any reason ranging from simple refusal to pay a legitimate debt through to actually going out of business, Chartwell are on record as saying they do not consider themselves responsible in any way, and will not offer any assistance to the aggrieved players in any form whatsoever, be it investigation of the matter from their end through through to ultimately settling the debt themselves.

This is an antiquated case of Have Your Cake And Eat It Syndrome - Chartwell are more than happy to take the licensees' payment for use of the software, but they want no part in the fallout when things go wrong. They do not, it seems, feel any responsibility to the players for the conduct of those licensees who could only operate, and end up failing their players, with Chartwell's granting of the license in the first place!


That incident, from two and a half years ago, saw the light of day again during the reporting of another Chartwell incident in the Liquid Casino thread at Casinomeister; this operation deceiptfully advertised a promotional bonus over the Christmas period, only to renege on the offer and then apparently suffer payment problems which are still unresolved. In other words, on the face of it Liquid Casino appear to be in financial difficulties which may well result in their going out of business and leaving players unpaid.

Chartwell? They appear to have not changed their antiquated and unfair policy of non-involvement in any matter pertaining to their licensees conduct - beyond ensuring receipt the license fee, of course!


On the basis of this, Casinomeister Bryan Bailey chose to issue a Chartwell casino caution this week in his rogue section.


I am a firm believer that the software provider has an obligation to the player if their licensees go down the tubes. Chartwell provides gaming software to a number of casinos, but they refuse to get involved with player disputes or issues of non-payment.

I have spoken to them in person about their stance, but they are adamant that their licensees are good solid companies. That may be true for the most part, but their licensees are not immune to incompetent management, sub-standard customer support, cryptic terms and conditions, and bankruptcies. It boggles my mind thinking that the software provider will put these casinos into operation, but won't do a thing to protect the player.

Attitudes like this are archaic and useless to this industry. I am amazed that anyone in this business still subscribes to this train of thought. I guess they will leave it up to the licensing jurisdictions to take care of any screwed over players. But licensing jurisdictions are normally set up for tax purposes for the licensee - they rarely provide player protection.

I would advise players to play at these casinos at your own risk. If you run into a problem, sorry - you're on your own."


Quite right, too. Microgaming will financially bail out players from failed licensees; RTG have a dispute service which is slowly gaining credence, and Playtech have paid lip-service to a more hands-on approach with the setting up of a "complaints" department - though it has, to date, been hopelessly ineffective.

Play at Chartwell casinos at your own risk; if you run into problems you can expect no assistance from the software provider.



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• Ladbrokes data theft
• Ladbrokes unfair settlement
• Palace group bonus rules
• Grand Prive and eCOGRA

2009

• Blackjack in the UK
• Seminole Hard Rock
• The APCW and MG
• Sportsbook.com
• Slot beaters slot strategy
• Rushmore Casino theft
• Paddy Power affiliates
• Slots
• 888.com problem
• The UIGEA
• Neteller contest winner
• 888.com bonus problem
• Casino Club meeting
• Online casino directory
• 32Red debit card bonus
• Blue Square Casino
• Budapest Affiliate Expo
• Rushmore payment issues
• Modern Blackjack volume 1
• Eurolinx certain insolvency
• Buzzluck winnings theft
• PaddyPower removed
• 32Red lawsuit
• William Hill Casino Club
• Betfair video poker
• APCW underage children
• Odds page updates
• VP Genius
• Video poker page updates
• Blackjack page updates
• Progression page updates
• Single deck page updates
• Betfair Playtech license
• Cherry Red Casino
• Online gambling debate
• William Hill & Teddy Sagi
• Rogue casinos section
• Pontoon correction
• Microgaming poker scandal
• Casino Club confiscation
• Casino Club steals €8000
• Villa Fortuna Casino
• Grand Prive affiliate issue
• CAP and Cardspike 2
• Virgin Casino bad results
• CAP and Cardspike 1

2008

• iNetbet removal from site
• Mario Galea and Malta LGA
• Cold Mountain Resort
• The AGCC
• Moneybookers privacy
• Virtual Casino rebranding
• Captain Jack Casino
• Royal Ace Casino
• Ringmaster Casino
• Catseye Casino
• Lucky Palm Casino
• Pharaohs Gold Casino
• Goldstream Casino
• Plantet 7 Casino
• Betfair bonus confiscation
• Malta LGA worthless
• The GIA
• Interwetten theft of £5000
• Lucky Ace winnings stolen
• The KGC and Absolute

2007

• HippoJo Casino
• Microgaming All Aces VP
• Neteller issues
• Lou Fabiano responds
• Lou Fabiano selling stats
• Betfair Zero Lounge
• ICE 2007 brief visit
• RTG cancels ICE visit

2006

• Crystal Palace Casino theft
• eCOGRA & Jackpot Factory
• English Harbour cheating
• Boss Media single deck
• Bella Vegas / Grand Prive
• The KGC worthless
• Gambling Federation
• Playtech sued
• Meeting Andrew Beveridge
• Playtech confirmed listing
• African Palace Casino
• G-Fed ICE discussion
• Playtech ICE meeting
• Playtech issues escalation
• Chartwell hands off

2005

• Crystal Gaming silence
• Price Waterhouse Cooper
• Crystal Gaming flotation 2
• Vegas Frontier
• Crystal Gaming flotation 1
• Playtech public listing
• African Palace & Indio
• Kiwi Casino
• Rochester Casino
• G-Fed theft 2
• Warren Cloud best avoided
• Golden Palace stupidity 3
• Golden Palace stupidity 2
• G-Fed theft 1
• Golden Palace stupidity 1
• Russia online expansion
• Wan Doy Pairs Poker
• Microgaming CPU usage
• Net Entertainment RNG
• Cryptologic & William Hill
• Casino growth slow
• English Harbour paying
• Fraudster or not
• Blackjack surrender
• Integrity casino group audit