Posts Tagged ‘are online casinos fair’

The GPWA Affiliate Program Sponsors Seal: What it Means for You, the Player

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

gpwa1Grande Vegas Casino was in the news recently, including a write-up here on the OCS blog. Just a refresher: Two lucky players were awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to the famous Foxwoods Casino Resort in Connecticut. If that isn’t giving away business, I don’t know what is!

Anyhow, Grande Vegas has been an approved online casino here at OCS for about a year now. Besides meeting all of our minimum requirements for a listing in our online casino reviews directory, Grande Vegas has a few other accreditations under it’s belt, and I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about one of these accreditations right now.

Introducing the Gambling Portal Webmasters Association (GPWA). For all you players who don’t happen to be affiliates of online casinos, the GPWA is a non-profit, professional organization composed of webmasters working in the online gambling industry. With over 10,000 members, the GPWA is the largest and most active organization of its kind. Free to join, the GPWA is financially supported via affiliate program sponsorship.

In essence, what the GPWA does is give online casino affiliates (such as yours truly) a union-like power that allows affiliates to wield their powerful influence in the online marketing sector. It also helps affiliates secure more favorable financial deals and ensure timely payment of commissions and advertising revenue.

That said, it’s reassuring to know that Grande Vegas Casino is a member and sponsor of the Gambling Portal Webmasters Association, boasting the GPWA Seal on their website. Just as affiliates are upheld to high standards of responsible affiliate marketing, sponsor online casinos are held to a similar Code of Conduct. The provisions of which include the following:

– Abide by all regulatory and licensing laws of the jurisdiction in which business takes place.

– Does not engage in deceitful or misleading promotional marketing or boast false accreditations and business practices.

– Publicly discloses all rules and registration guidelines pertaining to players and affiliates.

– Does not engage in unethical marketing practices.

– Processes withdrawals and payments in accordance with published T&C’s.

– Promptly responds to and handles complaints by affiliates for both affiliate issues and those submitted by players of affiliates.

– Accepts responsibility for complying with the above terms.

If you are a player and reading this, you should know that you are in good hands when you play at a GPWA approved online casino. You are in even better hands, when you find an affiliate site, such as yours truly, Online Casino Suite, that publishes a recommendation to play at said online casino. In other words, if you have a complaint about Grande Vegas Casino, or any casino listed on our site – okay, any casino period 🙂 – please register at our player’s forum and post your complaint here: http://onlinecasinosuite.com/forum/

TST Online Casino Fairness Certifications: How to Tell if a Casino is Truly Fair?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Here’s another letter sent to TST – one of the more active “Fairness Certifiers” of online casinos. While this has no intention of making out TST to be a shill (TST is an established, reputable company) the bottom line is that something needs to be done in regards to how players can truly tell if an online casino is indeed certified for fairness. It would seem that many online casinos are riding off the credibility of the TST logo, and TST is doing nothing about it…..

BEGIN LETTER

To Whom it May Concern,

This email is a collective question from a number of online gaming affiliates who are beginning to question the authenticity of online casinos boasting TST accreditations, not to mention the due diligence of TST itself.

For example, there is a growing, large percentage of online casinos that have the TST logo on their homepages, and yet do not link to a certificate.

Whose to say these sites are actually TST certified?

Additionally, there are several Top Game casinos linking to so-called documents, which in effect are nothing self-written press releases.

These documents may look legit to a newbie online gambler, but this is essentially a press release anyone could create with a text editor.

And then, there are sites linking to valid TST certificates for Real Time Gaming Software, which albeit is valid for RTG, yet is not necessarily for the online casino.

http://rm.cdnng.net/certification_letter.pdf

Many of the online casinos that are linking to the above document, are based out of Costa Rica, where there is no ongoing regulation and monitoring. Sure, RTG’s software platform is fair – but that doesn’t mean the casino hasn’t gone in and changed the source code. Only unless there is monthly auditing can this be detected.

Personally, I think TST should be doing more about this, whether it be better policing of who displays the TST logo or creating a Web page that lists which casinos and software providers are indeed TST certified, and providing a distinction between the two. Online casinos should not be allowed to link to a certificate for the software provider, when the casinos themselves are not even being regulated.

Quite frankly, we believe this shines a negative light on TST, and until something is done about this, we will be getting the message out there across blogs and forums.

Your response addressing this matter is appreciated and will be considered in regards to updates on the matter. If TST bills itself to be an “internationally recognized” testing facility, and “one of the world’s most experienced gaming test labs”, don’t you think the players – who essentially keep you in business – deserve more transparency?

END LETTER

We will update this post with a response from TST. If you are an affiliate reading this, please do your part and write your own email or forward this one to tst@tstglobal.com.

The Future of Online Casino Gambling: Live Dealer Online Casinos Part I

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Cute dealers and real time video feeds? Could it possibly get even better!?

Cute dealers and real time video feeds? Could it possibly get even better!?

Let me just get straight to the point – The future of online gambling is live dealer online casinos. No, really. And I don’t use the word “future” lightly. I mean really, really think about it – the future, that is. Ten, twenty, thirty years down the road there is no denying that the landscape of online gambling will have shifted. And I dare say it will have shifted to more of a personal – okay I’ll just say it – live experience.

Now, I don’t mean live strictly in the sense of something happening in real time, although this is part of it. I also mean live in the sense that real, live dealers are actually on the other end of your real time wager. While this niche sector of the igaming industry is certainly not as booming and thriving as traditional RNG online casino gambling (that is, online casinos powered by software programmed with a Random Number Generator) or even mobile online gaming, it is popular enough to warrant an increasing number of dedicated live dealer gaming solutions companies.

Admittedly, RNG online casinos are still very popular with bettors – so much so that many bettors still choose these over the live dealer online casino. While it may seem as if the former is the better option, I beg to differ that it is simply for lack of familiarity, or in some case – simply a Web cam – that most internet bettors still opt for traditional RNG online casinos. Granted, there is also the fact that online gambling is still illegal in many countries, including the USA, as well as the consideration that many bettors enjoy the autonomy online gambling affords.

Still, the human component cannot be denied. Just take a look at self-checkout grocery stations.  Most people, if given the option of two empty grocery lines – one manned by a real live person and the other a self-checkout lane – will go with the lane that has a clerk. I know, for one, I do so at my local drug store. In fact, I was just there tonight – where an experience actually prompted me to write this article. When the clerk had to walk over to check the ID of a person buying beer at the self-checkout, someone in line called out, “That’s why we need people”.

Sure, in this capacity, the clerk was serving in a security capacity and overseeing the functioning of the checkout station – which could be viewed as akin to a customer service rep at an RNG online casino making security checks or telling you when to expect your withdrawal. That’s one thing which RNG online casinos, or any business for that matter, simply cannot do without – customer service.

Live dealer online casinos will no doubt still need to offer live customer service. However, it is in the actual operations of the business, where the presence of real, live people makes the difference. Especially in an industry where trust is key to earning business, actually seeing your cards dealt from a full deck that has been shuffled before your eyes, attended by a real person, certainly carries more trust than a software program divvying out hand results which could or could not be rigged. Of course, it’s not that simple. Properly accredited and regulated RNG online casinos guarantee a fair hand.

Another factor which will have more play in the popularity of live dealer online casino gambling, is the innovation of evolving technology, which is happening right now as we speak. Remember when I said to really, really look into the future. Well, do it again. When you’re done, come back to Read the Second Part of this post (….coming soon)

Do You Know 100% for Sure You’re Getting a Fair Hand at Online Casinos?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I don’t want to be one to gloss things over or shy away from accepting the “big picture”, so let me just say that many a U.S. online gambler is getting ripped off and doesn’t even know it.

How’s that you ask? How could I ever know such a thing unless I myself was doing or taking part in said ripping off? Well then, for all of you who would find it hard to believe that an unregulated online casino would do such a thing as steal money from under your nose, I beseech you to break out the smelling salts.

While the internet certainly breeds a convenience factor for online gamblers, not to mention all sorts of “free” promotions, the sheer fact that anyone can launch an online casino from just about anywhere in the world, means there’s a greater chance of coming across a shady enterprise.

This is nowhere more apparent than the waves of business activity that befall the still-in-demand U.S. internet betting market. Even with the dropping out of the top online casino software developers from the American market, there have been plenty of online casinos to sprout from thin air and take in millions of dollars from the coffers of gambling hungry Americans.

And no, not all of them are doing so honestly. If you look thoroughly enough at an online casino’s website, there is a good chance you will find something about “fairness”. I mean, let’s face it, you should, should you not? Any online casino that doesn’t brag about it’s fair odds isn’t doing much to earn player trust.

However, saying the games are fair isn’t enough – at least not in today’s unregulated American market. Sure, if the casino was being regulated by an esteemed gambling commission, this would speak for itself. However, even those online casinos which are regulated in strict jurisdictions are still forthright with their credentials and ongoing performance on the odds front. In other words, making payout percentage reports available for perusal should be a given.

However, many a so-called US online casino does not publish monthly payout reports, nor provide details about their regulatory requirements.

Now, some people will point out this doesn’t necessarily mean the online casino is cheating anyone. One could theorize that if an online casino never paid it’s players out, it would eventually go out of business due to word of mouth. However, the grim reality is that online casino operators have the capability of changing the software source code and subjecting players to unfair odds. That way, nobody gets paid out because there is no money to be paid out.

In a way, online gambling is like living in New York City. A slum lord doesn’t care if you move out and proclaim to everyone how sleazy of a landlord he is. The slum lord knows there will be another commuter, another transient, another life coming and going through the city that never sleeps, and who will rent out your old apartment, never the wiser…that is, until the person reaches the day in which the truth of the landlord becomes clear…and the vicious cycles repeats itself yet again.

So what’s the big deal about publishing a monthly payout report anyway? If you ask me, to not publish a payout report is prone to cause suspicion. What is the online casino hiding? Why are they holding back? I mean, come on, it’s not that difficult to have a payout report published. Apparently, these online casinos do not honor the concept of earning player trust, but rather, are in the business of taking money from uneducated bettors. But you can’t really blame ’em, can you. If players are willing to cough up their money, no questions asked, of course they are going to take it.

Remember, lot’s of these online casinos are not even being properly regulated. There certainly are a handful of honest operators, who despite not being required to meet certain regulatory standards, do so anyway on their own accord. These online casinos are the minority, however. The fact of the matter is that the other 90% of US facing online casinos could or could not be offering a safe and fair hand. Do you want to take that risk? Or would you rather get educated first. If it’s the latter, by all means, stick around here at OCS. Join our Online Casino Forum and start asking questions.

eCOGRA Reports Less Complaints Per Approved Safe and Fair Online Casino

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
eCOGRA Reports Fewer Dispute Mediations in 2010

eCOGRA Reports Fewer Dispute Mediations in 2010

In terms of raising the standards of online casino transparency, eCOGRA has definitely achieved the most success of any other non-profit (heck, for-profit) in business today. Operating with this end in mind, eCOGRA ensures online casinos are operating fairly and responsibly, and also provides player assistance if/when dispute resolution services are needed.

The eCOGRA “Safe and Fair Seal” is bestowed to internet gaming operators who pass a comprehensive inspection and audit, and who continually meet ongoing requirements to par with government regulation. In fact, eCOGRA’s seal requirements are more stringent than many a so-called online gambling commission. In terms of building player trust, there are no better sites than eCOGRA online casinos.

Unfortunately, most, if not all online casinos boasting the eCOGRA Safe and Fair Seal are closed to U.S. players. It goes to show what happens when the government attempts to impose bans rather than regulating, and consequently, putting an end to the underground market. But that’s for another blog post.

As for eCOGRA, let’s just say they have taken the complete opposite approach and are doing their job with flying colors. As mentioned, one of eCOGRA’s tasks is to provide dispute mediation for players at eCOGRA-approved online casinos. In a perfect world, there would be no disputes whatsoever. However, we all know this isn’t a perfect world.

The fact of the matter is that online casinos AND players make mistakes. When the two sides can’t exactly agree on how to fix said mistake, that’s when eCOGRA’s Fair Gaming Advocate, Tex Rees, steps in. As reported by Rees, the first half of 2010 has thus far generated less dispute mediation requests than the same time last year. What’s even more impressive is that eCOGRA has eleven more approved online casinos than last year.

Breaking the numbers down, Rees reports there were a total of 376 complaints, of which 287 were deemed valid. The remaining 89 invalid complaints were either due to insufficient detail, irrelevance, player abuse, anonymity or pertaining to a non-eCOGRA approved online casino.

Further attesting to the sway of eCOGRA, 76% of all valid complaints were resolved within 48 hours, of which nearly half (47%) were resolved in favor of the player. 43% of the disputes were pertaining to withdrawals (down from 51%), 21% regarding bonus issues and another 21% pertaining to locked accounts.

This averages to 11.03 disputes per week, which correlates to 0.34 disputes per awarded “Safe and Fair Seal” (lower than last year’s rate of 0.37). As Rees points out in her report, these numbers must also be gauged in light with increased transactions with players.

Said Rees, “We can attribute a portion of this drop in disputes to the fact that we have now been working with many of the Seal operations for several years and as a consequence a number of policies and procedures have been developed that translate to less cause for disputes. Our operators are also better equipped and motivated to deal with disputes at the operator level, which results in eCOGRA receiving fewer complaints.”

Summing it up, Rees stated “This level of performance is satisfactory and well within the standards we have set for our operators.”

Well, considering all the complaints Online Casino Suite receives regarding non-eCOGRA approved online casinos (and non-OCS approved casinos at that), we can’t disagree. Congrats eCOGRA! Keep up the good work!

Go Casino and Online Vegas Publishing CFG Monthly Payout Reports by Jacobson Gaming

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

CFG-SealThere’s no doubt you’ve heard of Go Casino and Online Vegas Casino, especially if you’ve surfed amongst the pages here at OCS. Rated in the Top 10 of all online casinos approved and reviewed at OCS, Online Vegas and Go Casino have endured the test of time and earned a fantastic track record with players from all around the world, including the USA. Owned and managed by the same company, Curacao-based Favian International N.V., Go Casino and Online Vegas are an exemplary definition of self-imposed transparency.

What I mean by this, is that unlike other online casinos which either lack in transparency completely (i.e., many of the gaming establishments based in Costa Rica) or are mandated to maintain a high standard of transparency (i.e., eCOGRA approved online casinos), Go Casino and Online Vegas hold themselves up to their own high standard of transparency.

So, what exactly do I mean when I say “transparent”? Well, first and foremost, a transparent online casino is one which does not just tell it’s customers how safe and fair they are, but provides documents prepared by recognized and accredited third parties attesting the same. The three most important documents you, the player, should always look for is a validation seal provided by the authority in charge of regulating the online casino, a software fairness seal attesting to the inherent fairness and proper functioning of the Random Number Generator (RNG) programmed into the software, and lastly, monthly payout percentage reports.

It’s important to have all three of these documents, or at least the first and the third, because a software validation seal alone does not guarantee the online casino isn’t tweaking the source code from month to month, especially when the casino is not being strictly regulated or not regulated at all (as is the case in Costa Rica). The payout percentage report essentially tells all.

That said, after the “glowing” introduction for Go Casino and Online Vegas, it should go without saying that these two online casinos have all three of these documents to show for. And the great thing about it all, is that they aren’t even required to do so. Is that a gesture of good faith, or what? While Go Casino and Online Vegas are certainly regulated on an ongoing basis (through the Curacao eGaming Licensing Authority; Netherlands, Antilles), until recently, they were not even required to link to a regulatory validation seal. Now, you can see that seal on the homepage of both casinos (as can you at all online casinos licensed in Curacao).

What’s even better, is that both Go Casino and Online Vegas are now publishing monthly payout percentage reports prepared by the esteemed independent software testing house, Certified Fair Gambling (Jacobson Gaming), which is overseen by mathematics and analysis expert, Dr. Eliot Jacobson (jacobsongaming.com), and whose associates include the likes of actuary, Michael Shackelford (The Wizard of Odds). They also hold credentials attesting to the inherent fairness of their licensed software platform: Vegas Technology.

So, just what do the numbers say, pray tell? See them for yourself! Here is the pdf document for the Go Casino June 2010 Payout Report and the Online Vegas June 2010 Payout Report. In the future, just click the CGF logo on the homepage of both casinos to see the most current payout reports.

This is pretty huge folks, especially for Vegas Technology Software. I can probably count the number of U.S. focused online casinos actually publishing monthly payout reports on one hand – and Go Casino and Online Vegas are two of them.

Now, this isn’t to say that other online casinos are not offering a fair hand or even receiving monthly audits. It’s simply that they are not taking the extra step to publicly share this information with their players and prospective players, at that. This is what online casino operator transparency is all about – and it’s something that we here at OCS will continue to urge other online casinos to step up. Currently, we are directing our efforts to encourage a number of highly rated RTG, Rival and Top Game-powered online casinos to publish monthly payouts.

In the meantime, OCS highly encourages prospective players to visit Go Casino and Online Vegas to claim thousands in free welcome bonus money, free tournament entries, staking a claim at over $410,000 in guaranteed tournament winnings for the month, and yes, getting a safe and fair hand. Read the OCS Go Casino Review and Online Vegas Review for more information.

Documenting Your Correspondence and Play While Inside the Online Casino is Always Better Safe Than Sorry

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

If only online gambling existed when this movie was made...

If only online gambling existed when this movie was made...

I recently came upon a forum post here at Online Casino Suite, in which our very own, Suitee, made a comment regarding how important it is to document one’s entire betting experience at any online casino. Whether such documentation includes keeping copies of all emails and live chat transcripts and or video taping one’s actual gaming session, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Not that every online casino out there is ready and willing to cheat you at any given moment, it’s simply that – just like in real life – shit happens.

Needless to say, it’s always advised to get things in writing when dealing with customer service at an online casino. Me personally, I wouldn’t even bother making the toll-free telephone call unless it’s about something menial, like what deposit methods are accepted or whether or not there are going to be any free roll slots tournaments in the coming week. Heck, you could even call just to see if someone answers – preferably a person who has a grasp of the English language. When it comes down to money matters, live chat is the best way to go if you want a fast answer, while email is always a surefire way to keep a detailed record of all your correspondences. Just be sure if you are using live chat to correspond with an online casino that you have a chat software module that enables you to record chat sessions downloaded onto your computer.

As for actually using a video camera to record betting sessions while inside the online casino, admittedly, this is something that takes a little more time, and is something which most players find to be a burden. If you don’t have a video camera, you might just want to look into some video recording software programs out there, which you can install directly onto your computer. Either way, you should record all your playing sessions. It’s really easier than you might think. Plus, if you’re ever one of the unlucky one’s to experience a software malfunction on a multi-thousand dollar win, you wouldn’t even think twice about hitting the record button.

Let me first say that software malfunctions are rare. Getting timed out while in the middle of a bet does happen more often (primarily due to one’s internet connection speed and ISP). However, the best online casinos use software that records the finished hand result even if it can’t be seen on the user’s end. Simply log back into the software platform, and the finished hand result (as well as any wager outcomes) will be updated and available for your perusal.

Even if a slot machine freezes immediately after the final spinning reel outcome and does not award the correct winning amount, online casino staff on the backend will be able to see the malfunction and manually adjust any wager discrepancies at a later time. Again, this does happen, albeit a rarity.

Of course, it helps if you have documented proof of such a malfunction – especially when we are talking about thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. For smaller wins, most online casino managers will step up to the plate and make any necessary changes to one’s balance (for the better) to reflect the payout that would have gone through had not the reels frozen up.

However, when dealing with a smaller online casino – perhaps under-regulated in an offshore jurisdiction like Costa Rica – there is a greater chance the online casino will ignore the malfunction altogether, ignore the players request for a balance correction, and in some cases, ban the player from logging back into his or her account.

This, my friends, is where the power of video documentation comes into play. Let’s say you had videotaped your gaming session and it had captured the actual moment in which the slot reels froze, you would then have substantial evidence that would be hard to dispute. Of course, this wouldn’t make a difference with the roguest of the rogue online casinos. But then again, you are an avid reader of OCS, so you wouldn’t even be playing at a rogue online casino to begin with, now would you? 🙂

How would the online casino know your evidence is something that was not doctored in PhotoShop or another graphics editing program of the like? Well, let’s just say that they would. Still frame captures have been used as evidence in the past for some highly noteworthy dispute mediations, and guess what? On more than one occasion, such still frames were found to be fraudulently doctored at the hands of skilled, albeit immoral gamblers looking for big payout.

On the contrary, timecoded videotape is rock-hard evidence. All it takes is setting up a small camera with decent resolution on a tripod just a few feet away from your computer screen. Use the zoom to frame in close on the screen and hit the record button whenever you start a new gambling session. While you will be changing out multiple tapes in rotation, all you really need is just one. At the end of 60 minutes (most mini DV tapes are 60 minutes in length, although I’ve seen 90 minute tapes), simply rewind the tape and begin recording over again.

Of course, if there was an online casino software malfunction that happened along the way, set that tape to the side to use for documented evidence. On that note, you might want to change out tapes with ten minutes padding at the end, just to prevent the tape ending midway in a wager. Also, be sure to label saved tapes and slide the “record over” tab in the direction that prevents the tape to be recorded over in the future. You wouldn’t want to inadvertently erase over your evidence.

Now, in terms of transferring said footage to your computer for use as an MPG4 or .mov attachment, all you need is to open Windows Movie Maker (for PC’s) or iMovie (for Mac’s) both of which are free programs on your respective computer platform. Very self explanatory, these programs will allow you to peruse through your footage and capture the exact section of videotape (by means of firewire…not a USB), which you would like to keep. The footage will then be saved in a format that can be shared via email, and that’s it!

While the primary hope is that you personally will never need to use such footage to dispute a win, I can’t stress enough how much having that record button on will ease your mind. It’s not going to hurt anything – and once you have a software program installed on your computer or the camera set up and ready to go, there’s nothing to it.

Curacao eGaming Licensing Authority Issues Logo Validation Seals for Online Casinos

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

curacao_egamingFor anyone who pays attention to the credentials on online casino websites, you might have noticed the Curacao eGaming Licensing Authority logo popping up more often. That’s because Curacao is apparently getting its act together. A popular regulatory jurisdiction for U.S. facing Vegas Tecnology powered online casinos, Curacao hasn’t necessarily been at the forefront of online gambling regulation. Although they have been around for some time, they certainly were never in the same league as Gibraltar, Malta or the UK Gambling Commission.

And while they still are in the minor leagues, so to speak, it’s reasonable to say that Curacao eGaming does just as good a job as Antigua & Barbuda and Kahnawake Gaming Commission at regulating online casinos. They’ve simply been under the radar, mainly because nobody really knew anything about them. Those that did, knew simply that a licensing authority known as Cyberluck was responsible for handling operator applications.

Oh, and of course, many of us content writers and online casino reviewers would be quick to mention the Curacao Internet Gaming Association (CIGA), which is only just that – an association. No, they do not regulate online casinos, although – like in any trade organization – members of the association are obliged to meet best practice standards to remain in good standing within the association. One of these tenants is that online casinos “operate under an internet gaming license issued by the Netherlands Antilles”.

And said internet gaming license is issued in one place and one place only. Formerly known as Cyberluck, Curacao eGaming is the Master Licensing authority appointed by The Netherlands Antilles Department of Justice. In other words, if you want to start an online casino and have it regulated in sunny Curacao, you will need to go through Curacao eGaming (curacao-egaming.com).

Now that Curacao is finding itself more on the map, it’s pleasing to see they are making motions at becoming more transparent, and holding online casino operators to the same standards of transparency. This is precisely why you will see their logo showing up more often as I mentioned earlier. Curacao licensed online casinos, such as Go Casino and Crazy Slots, are now required to display the Curacao eGaming Licensing Authority logo on their homepage, which links to a certificate page citing whether the online casino’s license is valid or invalid.

A valid certificate means that the software platform being used is compliant with jurisdiction requirements, i.e., proper functioning of the RNG and fair odds. The only thing I am unclear about (and something which I intend to email Curacao eGaming about) is that there are no specifics about ongoing compliance regulation posted on the Curacao-eGaming website. The link to a valid certificate goes to a gaminglicenses.com site maintained by another Curacao-based company and CIGA member, Antillephone N.V. In other words, it is AntillePhone N.V. that provides the actual eGaming licensing supervision.

So then, the next step at becoming a transparent regulatory jurisdiction with best practice standards in place – if you ask me – is for AntillePhone to explain exactly what they are supervising and how they are going about doing it. In the meantime, I strongly believe (as do many happy players and professionals in the iGaming industry) that Curacao licensed online casinos are providing tight regulation and ensuring online casino operators are providing a safe and fair hand.

The Lack of Transparency of Technical Systems Testing (TST) Online Casino Fairness Certifications

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Handing out RNG Certifications Quick and Easy, but so what?

Handing out RNG Certifications Quick and Easy, but so what?

First off, let me just say that I’m in somewhat of a bad mood. Therefore, if I come across as a little caustic and biting in regards to what I’m about to pontificate on, you’ll know it’s not entirely without merit. Heck, I’m probably not giving myself enough credit, considering I’m generally a very nice guy. Living here in Brooklyn, NY, some people would even say “too nice”. In other words, I think many of you may very well agree that I have a goddamn right to be pissed off.

Let’s begin then, shall we? So, about a month ago, the team here at Online Casino Suite (small but powerful, let me tell ya) decided to start an in-depth blog series uncovering the finer points of online gambling regulation. In particular, we thought it would be most helpful to explore the range of independent fairness certifications being awarded to online casinos regulated in “iffy” jurisdictions or those not receiving any regulation whatsoever, i.e., Costa Rica. I’ve said this a million times over, but I guess one can’t say it enough – Costa Rica does not regulate online casinos. They simply hand out business licenses. Woo Hoo! Go Costa Rica! Right?

Anyhow, we decided to contact these online casino software “fairness certifiers” one by one, asking them if they would be so kind to explain just how far these certifications can guarantee a safe hand, and depending on the type of certification and the regulatory jurisdiction, whether or not some online casinos are potentially offering less fair odds than others.

The big software fairness certifiers – as you may already know – are Technical Systems Testing, Certified Fair Gaming, Gambling Associates, Price Waterhouse Coopers, BMM International and eCOGRA. And of course, many of the top government-run regulatory jurisdictions, such as the UK, Gibraltar and Malta, do certifying of their own.

Of all of these aforementioned companies, we decided to start with Technical Systems Testing, otherwise known as TST – the main reason being that we have come across more irregularities with online casinos boasting a certification with TST. For example, the most popular group of online casinos operating on the Top Game Software platform, Rome Partners, sports a TST fairness logo on the homepage of their sites. However, not only does this logo link to a press release from nearly a year ago (not an actual certification), the press release describes an accreditation of the Top Game software platform, not of each individual online casino.

Why does this matter? Well, for one, it is unclear which regulatory jurisdictions allow online casino operators to change the source code of their RNG. This is essentially what delivers a fair hand or more or less fair hand. So, for an online casino “licensed” in Costa Rica, where ongoing audits are not enforced, a TST certification of the software platform means absolutely nothing. The online casino operator could very well go in and change the source code at any time.

I dare anyone to challenge me on this and explain how this is NOT possible. Believe me, I’m not saying I know without a doubt. But where’s the information pointing to the contrary. Nobody is taking the time to explain anything. And to be honest, it should be freakin’ TST!!!! They’re supposedly handing out the certification, are they not? But guess what? All TST wants is for Online Casino Suite to do a positive write-up about them.

So ya, after contacting them with these questions, they replied and said these were “very good” questions, albeit the answers to said “very good questions” would be lengthy and require some time to prepare. They then proceeded to suggest a phone conversation as an alternative, but have since stopped replying to our emails to set up such a phone conversation.

So, where are you TST? Can you please explain the validity of your certifications? Can you please explain why online casinos like Rushmore Casino, Silver Oak, Aladdin’s Gold are not given a certificate to link to, but just simply say they are TST Certified. I’m not saying they are not – All of the aforementioned online casinos are great in my book. But where’s the transparency? It’s freakin’ ridiculous that a company as global as TST (tstglobal.com) does not have a policy in effect governing how casinos may or may not display a TST certified logo.

So, please get in touch with me, TST – devonchappell [at] onlinecasinosuite.com. In the meantime, I’m onto the next phase of this blog series and will be contacting Certified Fair Gambling (CFG), which also just so happens to accredit a large number of U.S. facing online casinos. Maybe they can provide some better answers. Or should I say, answers period?

The Basic Things you Should Know About Fraud at Online Casinos

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Why you should never auto-save your online casino password; Graphic by Lethalman

Why you should never auto-save your login password; Credit:Lethalman

For those people who still don’t trust in the act of making financial transactions over the internet, I have to admit, I can’t entirely blame them. Of course, there are fail-proof ways of securely keeping your money safe on the Web.

Take online banking, for example. Do you really think that banks would dare allow account holders online access if there was even the slightest probability of being hacked? Now, what you do with your money outside of your bank is another matter altogether. And yes, that’s where the fraud that does take place online, well…takes place.

As for online casinos, yes, cases of fraud have occurred.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all online casinos pose the possibility of you becoming a victim of fraud. For the sake of this article, I won’t go into great detail about the technological implications in preventing fraud, albeit I will say that all of the online casinos approved and reviewed here at Online Casino Suite use the same technology that the leading financial institutions use to secure and protect the accounts of their customers. Furthermore, the best online casinos have a full-time fraud prevention and detection team, solely working to ensure all transactions are legitimate.

This is precisely why you must fill out a credit/withdrawal faxback authorization form before requesting your first withdrawal at an online casino. Management does not use this information to pull money out your account or sell you personal information, but simply uses it as a proven, effective system to ensure you are indeed the person you say that you are, and consequently, that the money you are requesting to withdrawal is indeed yours!

So, next time you find yourself incurring a slight delay on a withdrawal, don’t automatically assume the online casino is trying to jip you. Depending on your residential jurisdiction, the approval process can take longer than expected. Just know that if you stick to playing at reputable, accredited online casinos, you have nothing to worry.

Of course, you can’t just go around anywhere on the internet giving out your credit card number. As I said, online fraud does indeed take place. Just because an online casino says it is safe and secure and processed billions in transactions, does not mean it’s true. Always verify that the online casino in question is indeed regulated and undergoes audits on a regular basis. Even better, ensure the casino is licensing a reputable software platform that uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) firewalls to protect your personal information and processes transactions with a minimum of 128-bit encryption.