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The Metropolitan police and "bonus abuse"


Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Metropolitan police and "bonus abuse"


February 14, 2014

This is a follow-up to my article The "bonus abuse" innacuracy now being pedalled by the UK police, in which I reported that the Metropolitan Police had achieved a conviction for fraud and incorrectly reported it as "bonus abuse". At the International Casino Exhibition in Excel, London this past week I spoke with the detective constable in the article, and also rather more fully with a colleague of his who was manning the stand with him; he preferred me not to publicise his name, so I'll call him DC A.

As soon as I arrived and without too many formalities on my part I laid out my position in the above article, that fraud without bonuses is still fraud, and bonus play without fraud is entirely legal. Why was the Met conflating fraud and bonus play, and using such a standard, pejorative casino expression? How close were they to the industry? I also gave them a potted history of the definition of "bonus abuse" as per standard casinoese, which I described in the previous article and won't repeat here.

DC A maintained that "bonus abuse" was the name of the subject in the fraud case as far as the industry was concerned, but he acknowledged that legitimate bonus play and actual fraud were in no way linked, and that legitimate players had nothing to fear. Since I had suggested that the casino industry appeared to have the Met's ear more than might be healthy, he offered the counter that the casino industry had not been at all happy with the revelations that came out of the Andrei Osipau case. It seemed bizarre to me that the industry would not welcome anything that led to the routing of any kind of criminal activity that worked to their disadvantage, but DC A said that the issues of procedural inefficiency that came to light did the industry no favours. In allowing fraud to take place under its nose the industry could be held to be at best incompetent and at worst potentially complicit, allowing practices to take place that damaged the many people who had had their identities compromised as a consequence of the casinos not being sufficiently vigilant in their procedures. In short, it risked putting the industry in a position of possible criminal negligence. I can't comment on the extent to which this possible paranoia is justified, but the industry did not welcome the Met's investigation, that much is not disputed. Again, DC A's point in telling me this was to counter any perception that the Met and the casino industry were at all hand in glove.

DC A also pointed out that this was their first, and to date only, case of its kind. I suspect, or at least hope, that if there were more regular investigations of this kind a more precise (and maybe professional) vocabulary base would be used in reporting them.

We also talked about the recent Phil Ivey case, in which the world's foremost poker player basically duped Crockford's casino in London into giving him an insurmountable advantage, with the resulting winnings being withheld by the casino on the extremely dubious contention that Ivey had cheated. I mention this because DC A showed himself entirely au fait with the difference between casino incompetence and actual player misconduct. We spoke about the fact that Ivey had made various requests to the casino, all of which were granted and which turned out to be key to the advantage he achieved. Although the Met is not involved in this as no criminal investigation has been requested, DC A's take on all this was in tune with mine. He gave me no indication, over the course of this slightly off topic meander, of being any kind of an industry mouthpiece.

I did note a general sense of scepticism from the Met over the course of our talk. I laid out my own position as openly as I could - I gave them my name, my interest in the matter, and the fact that I had been what the industry would describe as a "bonus abuser" for several years, over the course of which I committed no crime worse than taking a certain amount of money from the industry while following the rules to the letter. I also explained, at DC Wake and DC A's request, the mechanics of bonus advantage play, which I pointed out was no particular secret anyway. Notwithstanding my openness, the word "scam" was directed at me on one occasion, and a few other things were said along the way which suggested I was being regarded with slightly raised eyebrows. This is probably par for the course for the police as they work with all kinds of criminality on a daily basis, so I don't feel particularly badly done by.


I must have spent a good forty five minutes with the Met, which at their small stand at the very end of a mighty exhibition hall on the last afternoon of the event must have been the last thing they were expecting. They took it all in good part and I appreciated the time they gave me; thanks, boys.



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