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Casino Club problem: a meeting with representatives of Casino Club at the Budapest Affiliate Conference

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Casino Club problem: a meeting with representatives of Casino Club at the Budapest Affiliate Conference

I met up with three affiliate representatives of Casino Club a couple of days ago at the Budapest Affiliate Conference. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Casino Club jackpot confiscation issue that came to light last year.

In brief summary: player "Mike64" hit a €167,500 jackpot playing a progressive videopoker game. The casino denied the win on the basis that the player had multi-accounts, and eventually put the matter in the hands of the Malta LGA. A year later, there is still no resolution.

• My first question was to clarify first that the casino understood that the winning funds of €167,500 did not belong to them, as they came from a progressive game whose jackpot was funded by the players, and as such belonged to either the winning player or the jackpot itself.

They did not dispute this, saying that as soon as the matter was resolved the money would find its way to where it belonged.

• My next question was to ask where the money was currently held, although this was not, again, likely to be any point of contention. They said it was with the casino. We had an initial point of confusion when they referenced "the client", by which they meant simply the casino and which I initially took to mean the player.

• The solicitor's letter mentions a "judicial procedure", and court cases have been mentioned in the discussions. What was the nature of this "procedure"? How can there be a court case?

To this, Casino Club said that legal references were purely with regard to the casino's legal department's involvement with the matter. There is no court case at this time. Nor, for that matter, could there be one. They pay legal professionals to advise them on this matter and, I daresay, many others. This is apparently what was meant by a "legal process".

• I asked about the player's deposits of €25,0000, pointing out that the player had made these deposits to receive a total of €5000 in bonuses, which, added to the jackpot win, moreorless accounted for the total player account balance of €198,500. This €25,000 belongs to the player. Why has it not been refunded to him?

This, possibly unsurprisingly, led to a bit of discussion and not a little confusion. It took us a while to get past the fact that I did not want to make an issue of the €5000 in bonus funds, as the player had not been able to complete the relevant wagering requirements and could not make any claim to the bonus - although the overriding factor on all non-payment aspects remains that the casino considers the player to be fraudulent. Were there any circumstances in which the casino would withhold not only the jackpot winnings, but also the player's large deposit?

Initially, the casino said that nothing was owed to the player because wagering requirements were incomplete. Of course, the reason that wagering requirements were not completed was because the casino hadn't allowed the player to complete them, which is a rather ridiculous scenario. However, again, putting aside any bonuses and any winnings, does the casino forsee circumstances in which they would keep the player's €25,000 deposit?

In short: yes. When (possibly, if) the current legal process, now in the hands of the Malta LGA, is completed, the issue of damages will be assessed by all parties. Assuming that the incurred damages assessment were equal to or greater than €25,000, then yes, the casino will keep the player's deposit.

• Following on from this, I asked about this perceived damage: what does it consist of? A small percentage of the online gambling public read online discussion forums. How could damages to the tune €25,000 possibly be justified?

Apparently, Casino Club is strong in the German market, and jackpots get discussed in forums and chatrooms. As such, word gets out, they assured me. I remain surprised and skeptical about this. As far as I know this is not the case for the rest of the gambling universe - why is Germany different? Anyway, this is what Casino Club gave me in response.

• The Malta LGA: when are we going to hear something? It's been the better part of a year already, and the LGA do not have any kind of a reputation for player fairness or swift, efficient decision-making, so would it be fair to suggest that the LGA may end up never making a decision, and leaving Casino Club with a €200,000 permanent loan?

Casino Club had nothing much to say here to give any hope. They said that if they go to the LGA to ask for a decision, the LGA will ask if they have any additional information to give them, and if not, to leave them to it. So essentially, the scenario of Casino Club having an effective permanent claim to this money could not be ruled out.

• Why did this player become a "fraudster" only after he won big? He was paid previously without any problems.

Casino Club made the point that smaller winnings are not subject to the same scrutiny as six-figure sums, and as such the player would have been able to bypass fraud checks that he came up against when he hit the €167,500 jackpot. In addition, relatively small cashouts up to €500 do not require the pin code address verification. As such, assuming his previous wins were sufficiently small, he could have fallen under the radar. This does not square with the casino's statement, unfortunately. The casino said:

This player, and others connected to him, managed to "win" and withdraw considerable amounts of money from Casino Club during first half of 2008

Are sums under €500 considered "considerable"? I suspect not. I remain unclear on this point. If the player was able to withdraw "considerable sums", these would have been subject to address verification and, presumably, fraud checks.

• There was much talk about the apparent fraudulent nature of "Mike64", and this led to a suggestion on the part of Casino Club which, frankly, I considered astonishing, and I told them so. They said: why does the player not admit his guilt, tell us about his additional accounts and ask us to cut a deal with him? Would this not be better than nothing, which is what he currently faces?

Ths was one statement over our entire discussion that I simply could not get my head around. Why would a player, who has been accused of fraud and not paid on that basis, then go to the casino and admit his guilt with a view to getting a deal, a kind of "honesty bonus"? Surely there is noone anyway sufficiently foolish as to do this? Additionally, what if the player happened to be innocent? Why would he admit to something he hadn't done, and thus absolutely ensure non-payment? However, Casino Club did make this point, that admission of guilt was an option open to him.

I found this suggestion improbable in the extreme.

• I told Casino Club that the player had tried, and failed, to contact either them or the lawyers. The casino disputed this. They said that the lawyers at the very least had no option but to reply, and that any statements to the contrary were false. This was a case of one side saying one thing and another saying the opposite, and without proof it's hard to make any judgements.

• By the time we were hitting the hour mark of our meeting I had still failed to address one outstanding issue, that of the rather strange prediction software claim made in the solicitor's letter, which effectively says that Casino Club considers Boss Media to be non-random. I never did in fact raise this, as it really wasn't especially pertinent to a resolution of the case and we'd been going a long time. It remains a matter of interest to me, but will have to wait for another day.

• At the very end I asked if there was anything I could do, by way of giving a positive outcome to our meeting. I offered to be copied in on emails as a way of verifying who was receiving what, but Casino Club said there were privacy issues at stake which did not admit third party involvement. What I could do, they said, would be to contact "Mike64" and encourage him to send any and all documents by way of verifying his identity.

I cannot, however, see what this would achieve at this point.

My thanks to Casino Club for agreeing to the meeting, and I extend a hope to the Malta LGA for a resolution to the case - preferably before we all die of old age - in order that the jackpot funds be reuniteed with their rightful owner.

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