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Fortune Lounge: the beat goes on with this most disreputable of disreputable groups

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fortune Lounge: the beat goes on with this most disreputable of disreputable groups

May 13, 2014

Steve Russo, the mediator from the "Gambling Grumbles" service whose work has not been the subject of any crticism I'm aware of since he took on the job a few years ago, had this to say about the Fortune Lounge group at the end of one of his mediation reports:

We can't help Cesar, but we can help others thinking of playing at the Fortune Affiliates group with one word of advice:


Excellent advice, which I think bears quoting at the outset.

I'll sign off with another quote from Steve later. In the meantime, this article concerns more lamentable behaviour from a casino group that seems to have gone from being one of the best to one of the worst in the space of about ten years.

As reported in the beravek7 VS Fortune room discussion at Casinomeister, a player's four-figure cashout was confiscated, along with his €150 deposit, on the basis of an apparent contravention of the casino's terms & conditions.

The player started out betting €10 on one particular slot machine, changing subsequently to €3 average bets on another slot to finish the wagering for a new player signup bonus. The casino had this to say on disallowing his winnings:

This is not about playing bets more than 30%. It is about you placing 20 bets of €10 on Beach Babes and then moving to Reel Gems playing 1934 bets at €3.18 on average in order to meet your wagering requirements. This is regarded as irregular in terms of the folowing term I already sent you:

"Placing high value bets with the single intention of increasing your balance, thereafter you substantially decrease your bet size, while reasonably not decreasing your bankroll"

There are two "irregular play" terms here. The first the player didn't violate, and since it's entirely specific and leaves no room for doubt it isn't a problem in any event:

Placing single bets equal to or in excess of 30% of the value of the bonus before the wagering requirements for that bonus have been met.

The second is entirely non-specific and gives the casino absolute leeway:

Placing high value bets with the single intention of increasing your balance, thereafter you substantially decrease your bet size, while reasonably not decreasing your bankroll.

The "high value" bet size is specifically covered in the first term and is redundant. The rest contains no information about the bet sizes that fall outside what the casino considers to be "irregular" - the only pointers are a "substantial" decrease without a "reasonable" decrease in the bankroll.

What is "substantial"? What is "reasonable"?

The casino is clearly attempting to discourage profit-orientated players, one of whose strategies is to bet large amounts followed by small amounts for mathematically sound reasons I won't go into. As such, the objective is fair enough. But the way they seek to implement it is completely unfair, as there is no way to know whether or not your play violates the terms.

Such "unfair" terms are unlawful in modern society, and all UK and EU law rules against them.

But not, it seems, in the law of the internet kangaroo court.

After airing his grievance in the thread discussion above, the player filed a complaint. The complaint handler, Max Drayman, dropped some initial hints that things weren't going to work out in the player's favour...

23rd April 2014

the casino has good evidence that the player is "non recreational" and the player is therefore in violation of the casino's Terms. Those are the basic facts and they weigh heavily against the player, for better or worse.

...before delivering his final verdict, replete with invective, hyperbole and infantile language:

5th April 2014

It means that (1) you didn't read my post above because if you had you'd have seen that I don't much like the "non recreational" Terms either and (2) you are talking out of your arse. The records clearly show that you went from casino to casino within that group and methodically used the same advantage play tricks on each of them, consecutively! Look at your play at any one of those casinos, except maybe the one account you didn't leave dormant when you were done, and you'll have a fine definition of a "non recreational" player.

Whatever we may think of those Terms -- and I think I've made it quite clear that we don't like them -- the point is that you agreed to them and are then bound by them. If you don't like their Terms -- and there is no reason you should -- then don't play there. But if you sign on, lay down your money, and take the goodies they offer then you are in the boat with them and their Terms, for better or worse. Too late to say you'd rather walk once the ship has sailed.

Besides, this is semantics. You knew exactly what you were doing when you worked your way through those casinos and your only real beef is that they nailed you for Terms violations. Tough noogies fella: you bought the ticket, you took the ride. Don't moan about the fact that your little plan went to crap part way through.

And while we are at it consider yourself PAB-banned: you've tried to AP the casinos, effectively lied about it, and then wasted my time fighting your BS battles for you. THEN you come on here to distort the truth further AND call us dirt-bags for trying to help you. To hell with you, you can fight your own casino battles in the future.

The language used, "talking out your arse", "tough noogies" , "plan went crap" , "to hell with you" etc hardly needs comment; maybe the mediator in question could aspire to a higher level of professionalism.

The accusations of the player "lying" and "distorting the truth" (which is it?) are also curious, as I can see no corroborated examples of this.

However, putting aside the histrionics and the kindergarten language: you cannot be reasonably bound by any and all terms, however unfair. If that was the case the casino could include a simple catch-all term such as "if you win we won't pay", and the player would have no recourse. That is why unfair, ill-defined terms are illegal in properly regulated societies. You cannot require a player to be "non-recreational", or to wager his money in a certain way, keeping within "reasonable" limits and not being "irregular", without defining what non-recreational, reasonable, irrelgular or any other non-specific terms actually mean in practice, because all this means at the end of the day is little more than a variant of my generic catch-all above: "we'll pay if we want to and we won't if we don't".

One of the standards of accredition at the above site is the following:

Must not confiscate winnings for vague & unclear reasons, such as "irregular playing patterns" or "bonus abuse", without specific T&C violations

There is no specific terms violation here, and yet Fortune Lounge remains recommended at Casinomeister, while being in direct contravention of this apparent requirement.

As promised, back again to Steve Russo's opinions on Fortune Lounge:

We have learned from experience that we cannot help a player there as their casinos refuse to even give us any information, much less to review their decision. Hence, the entire group is in our "Hall of Shame", meaning that when a complaint comes in we do not even waste the time and effort to write to the casino.

Maybe all webmasters would do worse than follow his advice.

Update 13th May 2014: Bryan Bailey removed Fortune Lounge from his "recommended" section a few days ago, with the following comments:

The Fortune Lounge Group was listed in our Accredited Casino section off and on (mostly on) since 2000. Unfortunately, they have vague bonus terms that they've enforced to confiscate winnings and deposits of advantage players. These vague terms violated our policies of accreditation, so they were removed from the Accreditation Section. They are solid casinos - and very well managed, but advantage players should avoid these casinos at all costs.

No longer recommending this wretched group is certainly a good move, but I take issue with some of the above statement: if casinos steal legitimate players' money, whatever the profit-orientated mindset of those players, and whether said mindset be imagined or actual on the part of the casino, they are neither solid nor well-managed, they are disreputable and should be avoided by all players.

But again, this was the right move on the part of a well known webmaster. However, it's unlikely that Fortune Lounge will change their disreputable modus operandi.

Related articles:

Ruby Fortune: crucial bonus term buried

Royal Vegas: a very unfortunate denouement

Royal Vegas: player breaks no rules, casino refuses to pay

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