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Monday, March 29, 2010

Online casino problems

I've been doing some updating of the Online casino problems page. The biggest update was the addition of the reborn Gambling Grumbles service, which I commented on in my Gambling Grumbles and Littlewoods article.

It looks like a potentially very useful service.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Gambling Grumbles: still up and running and, apparently, working, after successfully tackling 888.com

Gambling Grumbles has been around for many years, and was originally associated with industry doyen Julie Sidwell until her premature death.

I have never paid it much attention, but an apparent successful resolution came to my attention recently:

Littlewoods Game-On Casino: The best possible ending

At Gambling Grumbles we consider our mediation efforts to be a complete success only when both the casino and the player are satisfied with the results - and that is exactly what happened with Mark R of Birmingham, England, and Littlewoods Game On Casino.

Mark was far from happy when he first contacted us, saying that the casino was refusing to give him either his winnings or his deposit.

"I deposited £500 on 28th February 2010 during their happy hour promotional period which is between 7-9 GMT," he said. "Their bonus entitles anyone who deposits during this time to a 10% bonus which must be wagered 20X on any games excluding roulette. I completed their wagering requirements as outlined in their terms and conditions. Unfortunately they haven't credited my bonus and more worryingly closed my account. I have spoken over the phone and via live chat to no avail and I have sent e-mails requesting why this has happened. I have provided a copy of this e-mail below for you to look at. I have since requested that my funds be withdrawn to my bank account (£563,not including the bonus I am entitled to) but they refuse. They will not release my deposit or any winnings or bonus."

A quick look at the e-mail Littlewoods sent him revealed the reason he wasn't getting paid: The casino did not like that he only plays there, and its sister casino, 888, when a bonus is being offered.

"Please note, that in consideration of the reason why restrictive measures are being taken on your Littlewoods Game On account, the funds will remain on your bankroll. This decision has been made in light of the actions taken, in connection with another related account on which it was noticed that you only deposit at specific times, to award your account with the most bonuses. This means that most of the money wagered on our site is our own. Though this is not against our Bonus policy, it is not the kind of play that we want to foster. Please refrain from opening further accounts with casino's owned and operated by Cassava Enterprises Ltd, as they too will be blocked and the deposits not returned."

Two things should be made clear at this point:

1. Gambling Grumbles completely supports the right of any casino to refuse to allow any person to play on its site, no matter what the reason (just as a player can refuse to go to any particular casino).

2. Gambling Grumbles also supports the right of a casino to set any rules it wants - so long as they are clearly spelled out on its website. It is the obligation of the player to read the Terms and Conditions before playing.

In this case, however, Littlewoods confirmed that Mark's playing only when being offered a bonus "is not against our Bonus policy". Moreover, it did not just close his account but it also kept money he had deposited as well as his winnings. We wrote to Cassava about this and within days they contacted Mark to tell him that he is being banned from all Cassava casinos but that he will, indeed, be receiving his money.

"Your account has been permanently blocked and no further accounts will now be accepted," they told him. "As such the remainder of the bankroll which is £563 is expected to be returned to you in the form of a cashout. Therefore, your account has been permanently blocked and no further accounts will now be accepted. The cashout is in process to be paid on the 12th March and usually requires 4 to 7 business days to be received via your card. I must also advise you on this occasion to kindly refrain from opening further accounts with any gaming site owned and operated under the Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd.; as such accounts will be closed as soon as they are detected. In case that you do open any new account(s), Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd. may, at its sole discretion, withhold all deposited and related monies in relation to such accounts."

On one hand, Littlewoods Game On Casino and its partners will no longer have a player whose betting habits they do not like. On the other hand, Mark will soon have both his deposit and his winnings. Both sides are happy with the result - which means that we at Gambling Grumbles are, too.

Although there is no independent corroboration of this account, I see no reason to mistrust it, and so take it as having happened as outlined in the article.

A couple of points worth making:

The resolution was not completely satisfactory, as the player didn't receive the bonus he was promised as per the Happy Hour invitation. But whatever.

What is quite astonishing is that Littlewoods, under the ownership of 888.com, actually attempted to steal this player's own deposited funds. Forget about bonuses, winnings and other funds rightfully owed to players that casinos routinely feel the urge to claim as their own with impunity; this was the player's deposited funds.

888.com comes within the jurisdiction of the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, as well as carrying the inevitable and generally pointless eCOGRA stamp of untrustworthiness. A complaint to either of those, including eCOGRA, would have moreorless guaranteed a return of the deposit.

So what was Littlewoods thinking?

However, it's a positive development when a mediation service successfully persuades a casino to pay a player what he's owed, so good work here from Gambling Grumbles.

If you'd like to avail yourself of their services, drop them an email.

And if you have a problem with 888.com, you can go straight to the horse's mouth and file a GRA complaint. I think that in such a clear-cut case of theft of deposit, it would be unlikely that they wouldn't find in the player's favour.

Best of all, of course, is to stay away from 888.com.

9 Previous Comments

What the hell are Littlewoods thinking? Can't be right surely.

What are the specifics? Is this Littlewoods staff, operating an 888 skin, support staff and all.

Oer are 888 running a skin, backend, customer support and all, for the Littlewoods brand.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Casino Rewards cashout limit, or: what ends will a casino go to to ensure that no gambler can ever make a full cashout?

Casino Rewards casinos all have a cashout restriction term which recently came to my attention:

UK Casino Club general terms

16.Players who win a sum that is 5 times or more greater than their total purchases across all CasinoRewards partner casinos will only be able to withdraw their winnings at a sum of $4,000.00 a week. All progressive wins/payouts are exempt from this clause.

There is no justification whatsoever for this restriction. Whether or not a player wins $20,000 from a $5000 or a $1000 deposit makes no difference to the casino's bottom line, as they owe $20,000 in both cases; nor does it make any difference to the player's entitlement to his money.

The only reasonable explanation for this restriction is that the casino wants to make it as difficult as possible for the player to receive his money, and therefore increase the liklehood of his losing it all back to the casino while he waits for the next week to arrive.

Terrestrial casinos will also make an effort to keep hold of a gambler who wins a lot of money, with the offers of free rooms and hospitality, in an endeavour to encourage him to continue playing and, ultimately, lose all the money back to them.

However, the crucial difference is that the player can still walk away with his winnings at any time. He is under no obligation to do anything other than walk out the door, irregardless of all the offers of complimentary luxury under the sun.

Not so Casino Rewards. Deposit $2000, play some high-stake slots and hit a non-progressive $30,000 jackpot, and you'll be waiting fully two months before all your money has been paid. By this time, many gamblers will have already lost a lot, if not all, of their winnings. And all because of a term which has no rational reason to exist other than to ensure the casino rarey has to pay out on big wins.

It would seem too much to expect Casino Rewards to adopt a model similar to 32Red, a casino that leads the way in its treatment of its customers:

32Red terms

6.5 The maximum payout for any one 24-hour period for any one customer is £120,000 in the casino and £100,000 on the poker network. The daily maximum payout in the casino excludes winnings on 32Red's progressive casino games, payouts of which are governed by the Jackpot amount.

At 32Red, you can cashout £120,000 every 24 hours.

At Casino Rewards you can cashout $4000 per week, assuming a five times deposit or more win.

That's exactly two hundred and ten times less.

How pathetic.

And how unfair, unreasonable and shabby. I am fed up with this group.

In my Kahnawake gaming Commission article I highlighted the plight of a player who fell foul of a vital bonus term which should have been clearly listed on the bonus terms page, but which was buried deep within the legalese of the general terms page. Casino Rewards has still not put this term where it belongs. Why not? To decrease the liklehood of the player finding such a vital term, and thereby increasing the likelhood of his breaking it and giving the casino the option of confiscating his money?

There is no other plausible explanation.

Now I find they impose absurd cashout restrictions on balances, irrespective of the player taking a bonus. Why is this?

The answer is the same in essence: to reduce to a minimum the money the casino has to pay its players, with the imposition of absurd and unjustifiable cashout restrictions.

Two years ago, Casino Rewards did a good deed in the bailing out of the casino players of the failed Microgaming group Tusk Gaming - see the Casino Rewards section of my Tusk article.

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Aztec Riches

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1 Previous Comments

Can't argue you with you on this one.

Casinorewards are a big group too. It's not like they can't afford to payout quicker.

By Blogger Sandracer, at 2:04 am  

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Brian Cullingworth accuses GPWA members of having “payment agendas”

Brian Cullingworth, owner of online gambling news and trivia service Infopowa, is a long-standing advocate of eCOGRA. eCOGRA is currently embroiled in the Grand Prive fiasco, as a result of an attempted audit of the Grand Privè affiliate programme, which left all affected members with derisory compensation offered a year after the programme's closure.

Cullingworth is touchy on the subject of eCOGRA, as the organisation receives heavy criticism from many industry observers on the basis of being nothing but a front for the software providers on whose behalf they claim to offer assurances of quality.

Touchiness notwithstanding, Cullingworth's latest attack is something of a surprise. After a couple of flare ups in the Casinomeister Grand Prive discussion, he came out with the following remarkable allegation of financial impropriety:

3rd March 2010

...the hallmarks of a number of GPWA posters with personal as well as payment agendas.

Cullingworth is no novice to the "agenda" broadside, the allegation that argument is made from a biased or compromised position - I have received many such myself when arguing with him about eCOGRA and the general failings to the player of the online gambling industry.

However, to accuse multiple members of a given forum of webmasters as having "payment agendas" is step into new territory, even for this old campaigner. What is the implied financial impropriety of which Cullingworth is accusing people? Does he have any evidence to back up the allegation?

Almost certainly he does not, as noone who has criticised either eCOGRA or the supportive stance that a handful of industry representatives have given to their mishandling of the Grand Prive "audit" has any interest beyond fairness to all injured parties.

Cullingworth should be a little less cavalier with his public allegations of financial compromise, particularly when they are plainly unfounded and without a shred of evidence to support them.

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