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Grand Prive affiliate problem: sorry folks, if you don't like the terms then don't sign up

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Grand Prive affiliate problem: sorry folks, if you don't like the terms then don't sign up

Hell broke loose in the land of the online casino affiliate recently: the Grand Privé casino group closed its affiliate programme and informed its affiliate business partners that, as a result, their accounts would be closed and they would receive no more referral fees when their players, those players who had found Grand Privé through their affiliate website links, played and lost.

Affiliate land exploded in uproar: blacklists were rushed out and warnings were posted, while affiliate groups discussed how best to persuade Grand Privé to change their decision, fearing the setting of a dangerous precedent for other affiliate programmes which would then take the lead from Grand Privé and further curtail the referral commission income source by making a similar decision.

Here's a selection of the spleen being vented and the knickers getting knotted.

Bonded Casinos warning:

It is advised to stay away from these thieves to avoid becoming the next victim of their shameless lack of ethics.

Gambling Goldmine rogue listing:

Grand Prive Casinos have cheated, stolen, and breach of contracts...your money is not safe to play here.

Kasino King:

Basically they have just stabbed us all in the back and are stealing our money.

Casino Affiliate Programs' redoubtable leader, Large Lou Fabiano:

Grand Prive is knowingly in breach of that agreement and are attempting to defraud affiliates

(Ironically enough, my own Grand Privé warning found its way into most of the blacklists. That article, written three years ago in 200, is completely unrelated to this issue.)

Some heavy accusations flying around: "shameless", "cheating", "stealing", "defrauding", "breach of contract" and many more.

So: is Grand Privé, in fact, cheating, stealing from or defrauding anyone?

Well, actually, no. Not according to the Letter Of Casino Law.

Take a look at this copy of the Grand Privé affiliate terms:


The Webmaster (Affiliate) will not be entitled to referral fees occurring after the date of termination.

As such, affiliate or casino can end the agreement, for any reason, and referral fees are no longer payable from that date.

There is a caveat offered towards the end, where the casino references "...those obligations which by their nature are designed to survive termination", which may be interpreted as referring to the affiliates' current player base; however, there is no specification as to what this actually refers to, and the "...not be entitled to referral fees occurring after the date of termination" clause is sufficiently categoric as to safeguard Grand Privé against any liability: accounts closed and affiliate obligations concluded. End of.

Is this fair? Can Grand Privé reasonably invoke the letter of the law and refuse to pay their former business partners future referral fees for those players who were sent by those same business partners?

Hmm. Unfair terms. Let's turn the situation around a bit:

Take a look at the Vegas Palms promotion terms as they relate to bonuses credited to players' accounts (terms which were added after an episode in early 2007 in which Fortune Lounge casinos started locking accounts of players winning with bonuses - see the Royal Vegas locked account discussion at Casinomeister):

Promotional Terms and Conditions

Before any withdrawals are processed, your play will be reviewed for any irregular playing patterns e.g. playing of equal, zero margin bets or hedge betting, which all shall be considered irregular gaming for bonus play-through requirement purposes.

Other examples of irregular game play include but are not limited to, placing single bets using your entire or the majority of your account balance, where the majority of that balance is made up of bonus balance.

The Casino reserves the right to decide in its sole discretion which activities constitute "irregular play" for bonus play-through requirement purposes from time-to-time and to withhold any cash-ins where irregular play has occurred to meet bonus play-through requirements.

As such, Vegas Palms and all the other Fortune Lounge casinos reserve the right to confiscate winnings on the basis of largely undisclosed criteria - note that they say they will decide at their "sole descretion".

In addition to which, the "...where the majority of that balance is made up of bonus balance" clause is patently absurd, as a player would infringe this term at any point in their play where the balance fell to a point where the bonus predominated; for example, if a player deposits £50, receives a £100 bonus, plays his balance down to £100 dollars, and in frustration puts all the remaing balance on the table...and ends up winning. This would be considered "irregular play", and winnings could be forfeited.

These terms are absurdly unfair, giving as they do carte blanche to the casino to deny any cashout whose original deposit happened to receive a bonus.

Hmm. Unfair terms.

How did the affiliate community respond?

In answer to another Royal Vegas complaint, this was the Casinomeister response:

Let me guess, you placed a single bet with your entire balance on VP, BJ, or slots.

These rules were there when you signed up, and by accepting the bonus you agreed to these rules. You should have not taken the bonus.

This from a Gambling Industry Association discussion:

If they don't like the terms,...don't take the bonus. Simple.

If they break even ONE rule, no matter if it's related to the bonus, no matter if it's minor, no matter if it doesn't even effect the outcome,....then all bets are off.

From another Royal Vegas confiscation issue

If a casino states clearly "...placing single bets using your entire or the majority of your account balance, where the majority of that balance is made up of bonus balance..." that this will cause problems, how is this subjective? If a casino states that you are not to play with bonus funds in a certain way, then don't play that way.

From a Giant Vegas and Royal Dice complaint thread:

But when it is obvious to a casino that you are trying to get over on them - they'll invoke their "the casino reserves the right..." clause. If it's posted in their terms and conditions, then you've agreed to this statement.

It doesn't take an Einstein to understand that this was an intentional attempt on your part to either find a loophole or start splitting hairs. So they have invoked their "F.U" clause.

Let me make myself perfectly clear to everyone. If you try to scam over a casino, you won't get paid. Most casinos have some version of an F.U clause. When they choose to invoke this, that's their decision.

Fair enough: anything that's in the terms is to be respected. It doesn't matter how ridiculous, or unfair, the terms are.

It doesn't matter when the terms tell the player something as ridiculous as "...the casino reserves the right to decide in its sole discretion which activities constitute irregular play"

Nor does it matter when the terms tell the affiliate something as banana-headed as "...the webmaster (affiliate) will not be entitled to referral fees occurring after the date of termination."

It's in terms. If you don't like the terms, don't sign up.

In it's way, I can only admit that I do find it more than a little poetically ironic that, after their sanctimonious dismissal of players who complain about rogue terms, the affiliate community has now been so roundly hoisted by its own petard. Let's hear again the words of Casinomeister Bryan Bailey:

Most casinos have some version of an F.U clause. When they choose to invoke this, that's their decision.

So they do, Bryan.

So remind me exactly what Grand Privé did wrong?

5 Previous Comments

Grand Prive invoked the Fuck You clause. Players nor affiliates should put up with it.

In time, it will sink in..

By Anonymous joeyl, at 2:48 am  

It wasn't the standard "we reserve the right to do whatever we want, and our decision is final" clause, often referred to as a "fuck you" clause. I suspect the affiliate contract didn't even contain that one.

This one was much more specific:

"The Webmaster (Affiliate) will not be entitled to referral fees occurring after the date of termination."

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 1:27 pm  

A very well written article. Shows what kind of people the affilates (99,9%) truly are.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:08 pm  

The point of course is that casinos fuck players every day and affiliates defend them (or if it's really bad, delist them for a few months, and then add them back after sufficient time has passed).

But when they fuck the affiliates they are straight onto the rogue list.

By Blogger Matthew, at 9:25 pm  

In other words, Grand Prive were indeed wrong to terminate their affiliate contract, but its not nearly such bad behaviour as what they do to their players every day and no affiliate bats an eyelid. This is a lesser evil, but much more noise is being made.

By Blogger Matthew, at 9:30 pm  

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