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Kahnawake Gaming Commission: an unexpected step forward

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kahnawake Gaming Commission: an unexpected step forward

There's something in the air; over the space of just three weeks, two online gambling regulators have done what I had long considered would never happen this side of the next millenium: on the basis of complaints received, they issued comprehensive and detailed findings, and delivered sound, fair judgements. Not only that, but the judgements favoured the complainants - the players.

The first I narrated in my Bet365 article. This involved an established advertising ombudsman whose judgement, though remarkable in a gambling context, was not particularly unusual when viewed as a part of the day to day work of a company that upholds complaints on a regular basis (for more details on this, see the ASA adjudications page).

The next judgement was a horse of a different colour.

I received a complaint from a player who'd had a €10,000 winning cashout withheld by UK Casino Club, part of the Casino Rewards network.

The problem was that he had infringed a bet size restriction found in the general terms and conditions, to the effect that placing bets greater than 30% of the total bonus amount would result in confiscation of winnings:

The Casino reserves the right to withhold any withdrawals and/or confiscate all winnings for irregular play. 'Irregular play' includes but is not limited to any one or more of the following types of play:

Placing single bets equal to or in excess of 25% or more of the value of the bonus credited to the account prior to the play-through requirement for that bonus having been met.

The player argued that this very important term was not listed alongside all the other relevant bonus information on the bonus page, and neither was there a link to it in the terms. Since it wasn't there, he argued that he should not be held to it.

Here's a screenshot of those terms as they were at the time:

UK Casino Club bonus terms

I agreed with him - to me, this appeared an act of deception by the casino. Why place all terms bar one on one page, but relocate one of the most vital terms to another?

Was the casino trying to conceal this term?

The player mentioned filing a complaint with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, as UK Casino Club is located in their jurisdiction. With some knowledge of the operational standards to date of the KGC, I suggested that this was a complete waste of time.

On February 8th, I posted a UK Casino Club and Casino Rewards discussion at the GPWA to air the matter, and members were supportive almost to a man. The Casino Rewards affiliate rep, however, reinforced the company line that the player had effectively signed away his rights to receiving his money on agreeing to the terms and conditions when he signed up his account, irrespective of the placing of the terms.

However, a few days later, the casino had in fact chosen to place a link to the section containing the term in question within the bonus terms page - note that term "13" has now appeared:

updated term placement

In the meantime, the player filed his Kahnawake complaint, something I had already signed off as an excercise in pointlessness. The player proposed that the casino either pay him half his balance, or return the full amount to his account with the stipulation of a large additional wagering requirement. I supported both suggestions.

To my complete astonishment, the Kahnawake disputes representative delivered her verdict just eight days later, in favour of one of the proposed resolutions:

Hans N complaint against UK Casino Club

As the Commission's Dispute Resolution Officer, I have had numerous communications with the complainant, Hans N, and with UKCasinoClub (the "Casino") concerning a complaint lodged by Mr. N against the Casino.

We have now finally completed our investigation into this complaint and are prepared to direct Mr. N's complaint be resolved as follows.

We have taken several factors into consideration in reaching our decision in this matter.

Clause 13 of the Casino's Terms & Conditions (the "T&C") states as follows:

"The Casino reserves the right to withhold any withdrawals and/or confiscate all
winnings for irregular play. 'Irregular play' includes but is not limited to any one or more of the following types of play:

i. Placing single bets equal to or in excess of 25% or more of the value of the
bonus credited to the account prior to the play - through requirement for that
bonus having been met;
ii. Using the double-up feature to increase bet values;
iii. Even money bets on Sic Bo, Craps and Roulette"

Mr. N specifically accepted the Casino's T&C, including Clause 13, at the time he registered his account.

After registering his account, Mr. Niemz engaged in a pattern of play that breached Clause 13(i). Mr. Niemz does not dispute this fact.

Mr. N's dispute centres on the argument that, at the relevant time, some additional terms and conditions that were posted on the Casino's site regarding signup bonuses (the "Terms and Conditions - Multiple Bonus Promotion") did not clearly incorporate the provisions of the Casino's T&C.

However, given the fact that Mr. Niemz did accept the T&C and that his pattern of play subsequently breached Clause 13(i) of the T&C, we cannot conclude that it is reasonable to direct the Casino to reimburse Mr. Niemz for 100% of the amount of the disputed amount - 10,000 Euro.

We do accept that the Casino must bear some responsibility for failing to make it clear that the Terms and Conditions - Multiple Bonus Promotion incorporated the provisions of the Casino's T&C.

In view of the foregoing, we hereby direct that:

1. The Casino must, on or before 8:00 p.m ET on February 18, 2010, deposit 50% of the disputed amount - i.e. 5,000 Euro - into Mr. N's account and permit him to withdraw this amount, and

2. The Casino must immediately amend its Terms and Conditions - Multiple Bonus Promotion to clearly indicate that they incorporate the provisions of the T&C.

Given that Mr. N previously chose to make his dispute with the Casino a public
matter, we do not consider the terms of this decision to be confidential.

The Commission's file in this matter is now closed.


Per: Micki Oster, Dispute Resolution Officer

The case was looked at fairly, blame reasonably attributed to both sides, and a sound resolution made.

The KGC has been the butt of my and many others' mirth in the years it's been in operation: flat out ignoring players, giving canned responses apparently cut and pasted from the casino, whitewashing Absolute Poker and effectively ignoring Golden Palace's olympic sabotage stunts to name a few. Not a good track record.

So what happened to make me eat my words?

The answer might partially lie in the current text on the KGC home page:

On behalf of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, I would like to thank everyone who visited our stand at the 2010 International Gaming Exposition (IGE) held in London from January 26 - 28, 2010. The Commission was well represented at this year's IGE and, based on the high level of interest and positive feedback we received from those in attendance, we consider our participation to have been very successful.

We are presently implementing many new initiatives that will enhance the Commission's ability to better protect players, that will set new and progressive regulatory standards and that will affirm the Commission's position as a leading igaming regulator.

We welcome your feedback and we look forward to seeing you at IGE 2011.

Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Dean Montour, Chairman

So it looks like the KGC is looking to move in a new direction of accountability and responsibility. They've made the right start here, and have sent a message out to their licensees that they're taking a more hands on approach.

The only unsatisfactory aspect of the matter to remain is that UK Casino Club has chosen not to include the "30% maximum bet" rule in with the promotion terms, but to link to it - I checked today, the day after the expiry of the deadline for the implementation of the KGC requirements, and I note that the general terms link has been emboldened, but the contentious term not specified:

latest term placement

This is slightly altered in comparison to the amended version of a few days ago -

updated term placement

I assume therefore that this is the version UK Casino Club and Casino Rewards have decided respects the KGC dictat, and I also assume that the KGC approves. That much is a pity, as I see no earthly reason, other than unpalatable ones, to not include the rule in with all the other terms.

However, as far as the KGC goes and notwithstanding that one remaining niggle, it looks all good at the moment.

If you want to file a complaint with the KGC, fill in the feedback form.

5 Previous Comments

I would like to exchange links with your site www.blogger.com
Is this possible?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:25 pm  


I don't own Blogger, LOL. However, if you mean with my site here, then no, I'm sorry but I don't link-trade.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 2:28 pm  

I would like to exchange links with your site www.blogger.com
Is this possible?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:55 pm  

Can't you read?

See the above response:

>>>>> NO <<<<<<


By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 8:02 pm  

It's worth noting that Casino Rewards has somewhat improved its bonus terms layout. There are now no terms on the bonus invitation page - all are located on one general terms page.

The 25% rule is still consigned to the very bottom of the bonus section of the general terms, but this is still an improvement.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 7:07 pm  

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