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Betfred rigged games: Gibraltar commissioner Phill Brear gives final response

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Betfred rigged games: Gibraltar commissioner Phill Brear gives final response

December 10, 2013

Gibraltar gambling commissioner Phill Brear has issued a third and apparently final response to the reactions to his findings on the BetFred Rigged games issue.

As with the initial findings and follow up comments, I will add some comments of my own later and in another article, as the response is, again, very long.

Third and final comment:

It appears we are never going to agree on this issue, but let me have one last attempt, on your terms and through your method, to explain why we are so far apart on our views.

As occurred in the first thread, most of the comments made in the second thread remain unfounded, inaccurate and are at times malicious/self-serving. It is clear that many people comment on our conclusions without even reading the thread, let alone what I have written, and now make personal attacks and agree with assertions made by other people who have also not read what has been written nor examined the regulatory position. Perhaps Bryan can throw some light on this practice by producing the stats which show how many people who have made comments have visited and read every page of BOTH threads? This practice of ‘conclude before you even check’ now extends to a ludicrous ‘petition’ which further distorts the circumstances of this event, despite the initiator having a personal dialogue with me, and leads to what, a loss of confidence in the remote gambling industry amongst the people who have been misled into signing it?

‘Conclude before you even check’ also extends to quoting the GRA’s rules to the GRA. Well, not quite. If you take the trouble to visit our website and read our rules, you will see that the GRA is not the Gibraltar gambling regulator. The GRA has had nothing to do with us for nearly three years. So all those who tell us what our rules say appear to have not even looked at them, as they make explicit that the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner is the Gibraltar regulator, and publishes the rules, known as RTOS (Remote Technical and Operating Standards), and how they are to be applied in such circumstances.

Can I take you seriously if you don’t read your own threads, don’t read what I have written, don’t know who we are, or read what our rules are, but you agree with the supercilious, aggrandised egomaniacs who splash their opinions on the thread as if they had access to the relevant data, coupled with infallible judgement and had done their own homework?

So what do our rules say? They do say games should not be ‘adaptive’ ie , “the probability of any particular outcome occurring should be the same every time the game is played, except as provided for in the (fair) rules of the game.” So the games were not adaptive as we or any other regulator defines that term. As the outcome of every call was entirely random, albeit weighted against the player, the game is not adaptive. Note that the game was approved for use in all the European jurisdictions which licence online slot play.

Then we have the assertions about the game representing a device. Well, where is that rule? Indeed, where is that card game that uses 12 of 13 cards in this way and with these bets? The claim that it breaks an imaginary US or European rule is a complete nonsense. Read RTOS, you will not find the so-called rule you are told the game breaches; not in our rules or any other remote gambling rules (I am familiar with most of them). You might think such a rule exists, and it does for certain specified circumstances, but not for these circumstances. Read our RTOS section 7.1(5). What you will see is: “A licence holder should not implement game designs or features that may reasonably be expected to mislead the customer about the likelihood of particular results occurring. This includes, but is not limited to the following:………”

It is my office which has to decide if what occurred amounted to an operator breaching that rule. The answer is no, because the evidence, precedent, and a common sense interpretation say no. The examples which we go on to use refer to ‘simulates physical devices’. HiLo/Reel Deal does not simulate a physical device, it is a bespoke slot game. Even if this rule did apply, which it does not, we still have to apply a ‘reasonableness test’ in terms of how or why the rule was breached. You cannot look at a game 10 years after it has been introduced and after millions and millions of plays without any challenge, which has been accepted in numerous jurisdictions, and then say – that game is misleading everyone, because it obviously isn’t. What happened was the introduction of a paytable error, not the creation of an unfair game. We have taken sufficient and proportionate action with regard to that error, consistent with the likely actions of any other regulator presented with a similar error.

This conclusion also impacts on the calls for reimbursement. Reimburse who, back to when, what for? Are you seriously saying the operator should reimburse people who happily played the game, winning and losing, but who eventually lost, who got exactly what they came looking for, because there was an (unseen) error in the Help File? Are you saying the operator should discard his T&C’s that make provision for such unintended minor errors? Maybe there are other T&C’s that should be discarded when it suits the customer, like using your true identities and not using bots, leaving the operator with no protection whatsoever from the scammers out there and the occasional bugs which may work for or against the house, or, as in this case, make no difference whatsoever to the official and tested/approved RTP. If there are any genuine cases out there, let them come forward, I am sure they will get a sympathetic hearing. We have not published the numbers or the dates involved because we know that would be, pretty stupid, but your logic runs something like – “Your game had a minor and irrelevant error I didn’t know about, ignore that and what it says in the T&C’s I have agreed to, give me my money back.” It is a hard but undeniable truth, that the only evidence of anyone being misled by the paytable error is katie91.

I have been heavily criticised in the second thread for addressing katie91’s behaviour. Esteemed commentators suggest ‘her’ behaviour is not relevant (and that the error was deliberate). Read katie91’s opening statement. ‘She’ is the one who treats you with contempt, sets out to mislead you, who abuses your trust and lies to you, about who she is, what she has done, why she has done it, who with, what she expects, how you can help her, and more besides. For page after page, until we intervene, her lies that the game was ‘rigged’ are the basis of what we now say was a disproportionate and unfounded attack on the integrity of the games and the games provider, amplified by people who should have known better.

According to her CM log she has made 14 postings, so who is treating who with disdain here, after two weeks and over 200 entries on ‘she’ was still posting and leading you all on as to what had occurred, as well as lying in emails to the operator. You say this is not relevant?

The game was not ‘rigged’, ‘gaffed’ or any other acronym for ‘fixed’, nor was it even ‘advertised’ as having 100% RTP as she and many of you have claimed. It was not ‘advertised’ at all beyond the link in the contents page. By who’s stretch of who’s imagination is a paytable in the Help File an advertisement? No advertising authority or gambling regulatory authority defines advertising to include the esoteric contents of a Help File, which we all know virtually no-one ever reads. Advertising is ‘in your face’, like the very small number of 100% RTP PFR games which are ‘advertised’ and promoted as such by very few operators, and which require perfect strategy to stay even and do not include slot games so far as I recall. An error in a Help File is an error in a Help File, it is not ‘an advertisement’.

A number of CM users put katie91 and her so called evidence on a pedestal, built their arguments around her claims without checking them out properly, wanting to believe what she had written, and now they find it impossible to admit they were had over by a con-man and got this whole episode wrong. Even Bryan seems to be in that category. This closed mind-set by people who should know better is very disappointing. It looks as if the ‘top rated’ casino commentary site cannot accept what well established rules say, and how they are applied by all regulators. Nor can it bring itself to say that what actually lit the fire was outrageous. If katie91 had started the thread with, ‘Hey I am a bot designer using false online identities and for the last 6 weeks I have been trying to cheat a game, but I have goofed and I now realise there is an error on the paytable, but by the time I worked this out my bot had turned over nearly £400k and lost me over £12k, will you help me get my money back by saying the company are cheats?’

Would she have got the same reaction? Is this accurate description of events not a bit more relevant that the 14 entries ‘she’ made to con you all? We are where we are because ‘she’ lied to you, end to end, and because I have taken the trouble to correct that situation, whereas other weighed in behind her without asking obvious questions.

We have also had the self-righteous comments from the self-appointed ‘legal/compliance experts’ on the future of regulation, and what other regulators would have done etc etc. The first thread made clear that the game existed on Gibraltar, Alderney and Malta operators’ sites, I understand it also existed on others. So, it has been passed by all the primary European online jurisdictions, as not adaptive, not in breach of ‘simulation’ requirements and being fair. Is there a message there? As for the UKGC’s comments, the full correspondence has never been disclosed, but by any measure of regulators’ behaviour they appear to have acted partially and with undue, ill-considered haste in this matter, quickly and incorrectly treading in other jurisdictions’ affairs, effectively endorsing the findings of a non-authorised, non-approved ‘testing person’ instead of raising their own queries; so they too are now aligned with the cheating side of this argument.

Did no-one else find it a little strange that an organisation that took 6 months to deal with the FOBT case (and provided virtually no information about it) and has zero profile in matters such as these, takes only 3 days to weigh in on this one, providing some considerable but irrelevant detail, promoting its own cause, despite the game meeting published UK standards (except for the error). It was approved by one of their own approved testing houses, albeit not on behalf of a UK remote gaming licence holder. This was a pretty lamentable episode, and if anyone wants to explore the benefits of the proposed UK legislation, I suggest you research that issue properly before you make any further comments on how it will improve consumer protection.

Finally, I understand we have been down-graded by CM as a jurisdiction. I am not sure who else is in the same category as we now are, but I suggest you take a reality check on this. If the criteria for grading include ‘do we always agree?’, then fine, because we won’t, but if it is ‘who provides the best and most secure products, and who deals with consumer complaints properly and thoroughly’, then no-one comes near to us, and you should know that.

So, just as the dust is settling on the thread, here I am stirring it up again, because you were wrong in how you reacted to the OP, you were wrong in your analysis and you are wrong in your attitude to this matter. You should not support cheats, they are cheating honest operators and honest players; but bugs and errors do occur, and we deal with them. Stop splitting hairs and looking for ghosts in cupboards, and next time, look at little closer at what is being claimed, check the facts, and do your own homework, before doing mine.

Phill Brear
Gambling Commissioner

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