Posts Tagged ‘disputes’

Turning to Curacao & Cyberluck for Some Answers About Online Gambling Regulations and Dispute Resolution

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

You might recall OCS launching a blog series not too long ago about online casino transparency and raising the bar for U.S. operators in fostering player trust, not to mention getting clarification on how exactly one can tell if an online casino is offering a safe and fair hand. Well, needless to say, we have been very busy here at OCS doing all sorts of things, not the least of which is investigating player complaints posted on our forum.

We recently received a complaint from a player who is owed some big money (over $80,000) from an online casino (not listed in the OCS casino reviews directory, by the way). Considering this casino uses the same software platform as other online casinos approved here at OCS, and is licensed/regulated in a jurisdiction that governs many OCS-approved US online casinos, we decided to follow up on this complaint and see if we could get some answers to some questions that have been long overdue, not to mention helping this player get paid.

Immediately below is a copy of the email we shot off to Cyberluck NV, which is apparently the Master License holder for online casino operators regulated in Curacao (Netherlands, Antilles). We also sent an email directly to Rival Gaming Software (both emails pertaining to the above mentioned complaint). So, without further ado, here’s the email (still awaiting a response):

Hello, My name is Devon Chappell, and I am the Director of Content and head investigative journalist at the popular online casino reviews directory, http://onlinecasinosuite, aka, OCS. If you are familiar with OCS, you will know that we list a large number of Curacao-regulated online casinos in our directory, providing favorable reviews of who we consider to be the best casinos on the Web. In fact, being a high ranked portal on all the major search engines, many of these casinos receive a large share of their traffic through us.

Vegas Technology, Rival Gaming and RTG-powered online casinos are all listed in our directory, and to date, most all have have performed admirably with players, generating hardly, if any, legitimate complaints. However, since our integration of a complaints forum at the beginning of the year, we have indeed noticed a rise in complaints from players who gamble at some Curacao regulated online casinos. Perhaps this has always been happening under the radar, and now only recently coming to our attention with the application of our new forum.

As I’m sure you know, RTG Software has a dispute resolution service for players – Central Disputes. However, Vegas Technology and Rival do not have any channels for lodging a complaint to my knowledge, and neither does Curacao.

That said, it would be greatly appreciated if you could share information with myself and OCS readers regarding how online casinos are regulated in Curacao (not just licensed), and how players can lodge complaints about casinos not paying out.

I’ve heard that Antillephone NV provides regulation. Is that true? If so, perhaps we should contact them directly?

To make a long story short, we are particularly concerned with a complaint posted by one player under the username of GID88 at Rival Software powered This is Vegas Casino (which does not link to a gaminglicenses.com license validation page, by the way). This player won a jackpot worth approximately $80,000 on the slots but was denied his payout because a chargeback was made on this player’s credit card at another Rival casino (SlotoCash).

We contacted SlotoCash, and they confirmed the chargeback did indeed appear to be a security breach out of the player’s hands, and that the player, being a VIP at that, was permitted to continue playing at SlotoCash pending a freeze on his account to avoid any further security breaches. The player stuck around, the account was unfrozen, and he continued wagering with SlotoCash, only to later give ThisIsVegas Casino a try.

It now looks as if ThisIsVegas is using this “incident” as an excuse to not pay the player their rather large jackpot win. A representative from Rival Gaming Software apparently told the player that the casino’s decision is final and payout could not be forced. And yet, as I said, Rival has no channel for posting complaints on their website.

Now, I would think that the jurisdiction in which ThisIsVegas is being regulated (Curacao) would have some kind of channel for at least posting a dispute resolution request? This is certainly the case in other jurisdictions providing regulation for online casino operators.

I apologize for such a long email, especially considering this may not even be the appropriate email address for doing so. However, as I said, it is difficult finding information about how online casinos are licensed and regulated in Curacao, let alone where complaints can be posted. For example, the UK Gambling Commission has a complaints submission form directly on their website. If you could please direct me to where we can help this player file a complaint through Curacao’s channels, let alone perhaps looking into the complaint yourself, that would be greatly appreciated!

Best Regards,

Devon Chappell
Directory of Content
Investigative Journalist
http://onlinecasinosuite.com

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!

Online Gambling Disputes Part III – When the Player is the Rogue

Thursday, January 14th, 2010
Do you have the brain of a rogue online gambling criminal?

Do you have the brain of a rogue online gambling criminal?

Continuing with our series about online gambling disputes, it’s only fair to now shed some light on the ugly side of “player complaints”, not to mention criminal brains as deemed by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Disorders.

I don’t know about you, but it sure does seem to me like there are a lot of crooked online casinos in business today. It sure doesn’t take any time at all to find complaints and rip-off reports and accusations and disgruntled rantings, whether it be on forums, blogs or review sites…the list goes on.When I first began working in the online gaming industry back at the turn of the new millennium (man, do I feel old), I would constantly be hearing about this and that online casino cheating this and that player, along with online casino blacklists longer than the eye could see. And considering there was hardly any good regulation back then (mainly just Kahnawake and Antigua & Barbuda), you could say that online gambling truly was something of a Wild Wild West.

Naturally, you can imagine why it was easy for sites like Online Casino Suite to evolve into “player portals”, where solid, factual information about online casinos could be found – not the standard fare of cheap car salesman talk and flashy banners. And while OCS certainly makes the player its topmost priority, the player is not always cracked up to be who he or she claims to be. In other words, a lot of those complaints you run across on the forums and such (heck, even our own online gambling forum), do not always tell the full story.

For example, there are players out there known by online casino operators as “bonus hunters”. While there is nothing wrong with tracking down the best casino bonuses and playing with as much free money as you can get, when it involves knowingly violating an online casino’s terms and conditions in order to get more bonus money, that’s another matter altogether. A trick that some players like to use for claiming a bonus more than once is to open an account under a different name or address. Some will go so far to use fake documents and stolen driver’s licenses. Then, when it comes time to cash out their winnings, only to be denied by the online casino, the player starts crying bloody murder, usually accompanied by a fabricated story justifying why the online casino was able to track their IP address to two different accounts. My favorite is the one about the long lost brother who decided to open an account and unknowingly logged into the online casino while staying with his brother, and hence the duplicate IP address.

The worst rogue player of all, however, is the one who doctors supposed screen shots of winnings, ala Photoshop. It’s happened before, only to end up with the player showing his ass. But unlike the online casino whose reputation can be damaged forever, the player usually walks away unscathed, only to try his exploits again at another online casino network.

I guess the lesson to learn from all of this is that you can’t always believe what your read. That goes for complaints, reviews, positive testimonials….everything under the sun. You can, however, begin to gauge a larger picture about an online casino after taking in several sources of information. The only problem is that there truly are not very many reliable sources out there. Not trying to trap you in a box of anything, but this is precisely why Online Casino Suite has expanded to offer a forum and will soon be offering players the ability to comment on online casino reviews and share their two cents worth. That way, you don’t have to solely take the word of OCS – you can temper it with player comments…good and bad.

I suppose the second lesson to learn from this post is that it doesn’t pay to be a rogue player. Believe me folks – Online casinos use some pretty sophisticated fraud detection platforms these days. If you think you can get by with a proxy to block your IP address, think again.  Besides the fact that what goes around, comes around, there are simply way too many good online casinos and bonus offers out there to take advantage of anyways. For instance, online casinos like Rushmore Casino and Go Casino have more reload bonus money available than you’ll know what to do with.  So do yourself a favor –  Check the chart above to make sure you don’t have a criminal brain as deemed by the Massachusetts Deparment of Mental Disorders and BEHAVE!

Online Gambling Disputes Part II – How to Avoid Getting into an Illegitimate Dispute

Sunday, January 10th, 2010
prevention01

Do Yourself a Favor - Read the Online Casino Terms & Conditions

I know what you’re thinking…Why the “Preventable Causes of Death” graphic? No, online gambling is not a preventable cause of death (thank God…although, the opposition will probably tell you otherwise). I use it as an extreme analogy. Obviously, if you quit smoking you are drastically increasing your chances of preventing death (for the time being, of course). That said, this blog post will teach you how to prevent getting into a dispute with an online casino, which if we’re talking thousands of dollar’s, could be like dying for some of you.

Continuing with our blog series covering online gambling disputes, let’s go back one step, shall we? In the last post, I dished out my two cents worth about how to behave yourself while attempting to resolve a dispute with an online casino. How about not getting into a dispute to begin with? Now, I’ve never been a huge proponent of holistic living (I drink way too much beer for that); However, it’s obvious to me that if you want to avoid getting sick, one of the best things you can do is to incorporate some preventive measures.

In the world of online gambling, the best preventive measure you can take, so as to avoid getting into a dispute come withdrawal time, is to get yourself educated. Of course, part of that includes sorting out the rogue online casinos from the good guys, and the mediocre from the best online casinos – by the way, only settle for the best :). But it shouldn’t end there, although it unfortunately often does with many gamblers.

After picking out a place to wager online, whether it be the bonus offering or customer service that becomes the deciding factor, the next best thing you can do to educate yourself is to read the general terms and conditions imposed by the online casino. Now, I know it can be one of the most boring activities ever to do online. Then again, I’m reminded of the painful experience of filing my taxes online and that driver’s correction course….So ya, it could be worse. And if you happen to break one of the T&C’s, it most definitely will be “worse” come withdrawal time.

Like most anybody out there, I hate to see when a player is denied their withdrawal, simply because the player unknowingly violated one of the casino’s terms and conditions. It is definitely heartbreaking when we’re talking about a huge jackpot win. And as much as I want to cry out “injustice”, the whole debacle could have been avoided if the player had simply read the T &C’s when signing up AND before making a wager or claiming a bonus. Speaking of bonuses, in addition to reading the regular T&C’s, which generally covers withdrawal policies and account activity, players need to always read the full terms and conditions governing a bonus BEFORE claiming any bonus money.

T&C’s are usually posted on separate pages of an online casino’s website, and will take a little digging around in order to find them. See, online casinos, like most businesses in high-volatile industries, don’t like to be up front with everything. They just want to get you in the door. However, they also know that keeping any information from you as required by law is…well…against the law. So, everything you need to know so as to avoid any disputes come withdrawal time, is available for you to read. You just have to know where to look for it.

Now, the general Terms & Conditions are the easiest to find – usually at the very bottom of the casino’s webpage. Like I said before, they mainly cover the terms for opening and maintaining an account, as well as financial matters. Although I know you are going to be a good little newbie online gambler and read the T&C’s even after reading this, here’s the main points covered in the general T&C’s you need to know about:

1) Don’t open two accounts per household. Yes, that means if you have a companion who likes to gamble online, they need to do it at another online casino. And, for that matter, an online casino that is NOT part of the same network at the casino you are playing at. Do some research and ask some questions if you’re not sure.

2) Don’t open another account under a different name. And don’t try to register it at another address (like that of a friend). First off, you know it’s wrong. Secondly, online casinos use very high tech IP address tracking solutions that not even a proxy is going to block.

3) Know your withdrawal limits. Yes, all online casinos impose weekly withdrawal limits, unless we’re talking about a progressive jackpot win, in which the whole thing is eligible for withdrawal at once. If you don’t like the fact that you can’t withdrawal more than $2,000 per week, look for another online casino to open an account with. Don’t worry, the better casinos do indeed offer higher weekly maximums. For example, Go Casino is $8,000/week.

4) Don’t make a single wager until verifying if a bonus is in your account or not. Even if you don’t claim a bonus, some online casinos like to trick you by automatically putting the bonus there. Isn’t that nice of them? They like to call it free money, but we know it’s not. Granted, there are some good bonuses out there. But if you don’t want to be subjugated by bonus T&C’s, don’t make a wager before verifying that your account is clear of any bonuses. It is best to send an email to customer support, who can remove the bonus for you. After making you first wager, however, it’s usually too late, and you will likely have to play out the bonus. If in doubt, ask.

5) Check to see if there are any maximum withdrawal limits on bonus money. This is another trick online casinos like to use. Rather than stating this in the bonus terms and conditions, which are generally posted somewhere else, casinos often will stick this clause in the general T&C’s. The reason they do it is because if most people read it, they won’t claim the bonus. For example, there’s a casino out there (I won’t say who….just know they will never be listed at OCS), that gives away a $25 no-deposit bonus, but in the general T&C’s says the maximum amount of money that can be cashed out from bonus money is only half the amount of the bonus. In other words, if you are working on meeting the 60x play-through on this $25 bonus (see the bonus terms below, if you don’t know what play-through means), and happen to hit a $10,000 jackpot, you will still only be able to cash out $12.50. After doing so, your remaining balance will be set to zero. Ya, I know it sucks. And you know what else? It’s happened to players before – players who did not read the full T&C’s. So, if you do decide to claim a bonus, make sure you also read the general T&C’s.

BONUS TERMS

As for bonuses, their terms and conditions are generally split up on three different screens. One is the aforementioned general casino T&C’s. Another is the main promotions page. The third is generally linked to the main promotions page. In fact, if the full bonus T&C’s are not published on the main promotions page, the online casino is required by law to have the remaining terms accessible from this page. Look for something along the lines of “Click Here for Bonus Terms” or “Further Conditions”. It’s generally in small writing. Go figure, right? Now, here are the bonus terms to be aware of (generally posted on this secondary page).

1) Don’t request a deposit before meeting the play-through. The play-through is the amount of money you must wager before becoming eligible to make a withdrawal. It is a number multiplied by the amount of the bonus and corresponding deposit. For example, a 100% match bonus with a $100 deposit equated to $200. A 20x play-through on this bonus would be $200 x 20 = $4,000. Here’s the catch. If you request a withdrawal before the entire play-through is met, all of your winnings will be deemed null and void. So don’t get excited after making a big win and instantly requesting a deposit. You’ll be in for a big surprise when all you see is your original deposit amount.

2) Don’t wager at online casino games that are not eligible for meeting the play-through. Most bonuses only permit wagers at specific games – slots mostly. Even if you know that a wager won’t go toward the play-through, but simply want to make a bet on a non-eligible game anyways, don’t do it. Not only will the wager not go toward the play-through, it will turn all bonus winnings null and void. Ya, another little term online casinos like to use to slip you up with.

Other than these, there’s not really any more tricks in the bag online casino terms – at least that I know about. If so, please do tell us about it. Above all else, if you want to avoid getting yourself into an illegitimate dispute (meaning one in which you didn’t know you violated a T&C, and consequently, one in which you won’t win), ALWAYS read the full terms and conditions (general AND bonus terms) BEFORE opening an account and/or depositing money with an online casino.

In our next post, we’ll be discussing how not to be a cheating player. As if that will dissuade. Well, let’s hope so.

Online Gambling Disputes Part I – How to Go About Resolving a Legitimate Dispute

Sunday, January 10th, 2010
Honey absolutely catches more rogue flies than vinegar!

Honey absolutely catches more rogue flies than vinegar!

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Honey catches more flies than vinegar”? Well, I’m hear to tell you that it’s true…and it applies to online casino gambling in more ways than you might think. Case in point: We receive a lot of complaints here at Online Casino Suite. Thankfully, these complaints are not about us, nor the online casinos listed and recommended in our online casino reviews section. Take a look at our  casino complaints forum, which we just launched little over a month ago, and you will see what I mean.

Dealing with complaints has certainly been a learning experience. I have to admit that, considering some of the shadiness that has been perpetrated by a number of online casinos over the years, I am quick to immediately jump to the side of the player who says they have not been paid out their rightful winnings. And rightfully so – I mean, we are, after all, an online gambling guide for player’s. But you know what? Sometimes player’s are just as bad as the rogue online casinos. Heck, sometimes player’s are worse than the most rogue casinos of all! But that’s for another blog. In fact, let’s just make this a two-part series, shall we? Better yet – a three part series.

Part I: How to go about resolving a legitimate online casino dispute?

Part IIHow do you avoid getting yourself into an illigitimate online casino dispute?

Part III: In defense of the Casino – When the player is the rogue.

So, going back to the “Honey catches more flies than vinegar” analogy, let’s discuss how to go about resolving a legitimate dispute with an online casino.

Now, I know it might sound like common sense to some of you, yet it certainly needs to be said considering how many players actually do it. Don’t start off a complaint by making threats and cursing out the customer service representative. First of all, the person you are dealing with is most likely just going by the “standard protocol”, and really can’t go out of the system, so to speak, to suit your request anyways. Secondly, this person can potentially be your asset. If you are downright rude to them, you can expect them not to give you a positive report card to their superior – aka, the person who can make you a happy online gambler. In other words, don’t burn your bridges early on by spitting out vinegar. Honey always works better.

Of course, I can understand if you have been waiting several months for a withdrawal, and keep being told that your money is on the way, that there comes a certain point when you are ready to start making threats. As tempting as it is (and justifiable), don’t do it. Remember, your ultimate goal is to get paid. The sooner the better of course. So, what do you do when you find yourself at a roadblock? Simply and quietly, begin contacting third party mediators, one-by-one. The first thing to do is to contact the software licensor and the licensing jurisdiction. If the casino happens to be approved by a reputable third-party offering mediation services, contact them. A good example is eCOGRA (However, if the casino is not approved by eCOGRA, don’t contact eCOGRA….make sense?).

Granted, if you go through the software provider and/or regulatory jurisdiction, it will probably take longer to get your dispute resolved. You may also want to contact a third party watchdog that has some credibility in the industry. Not to brag or anything, but Online Casino Suite is a good example. Another would be Casino Meister. Having a strong player community, not to mention affiliate relationships with some operators, gives portals like ourselves a good amount of weight in helping resolve disputes. Just be sure to abstain from engaging several mediator’s at once. There will most likely involve negotiations in coming to a settlement – and there will only be ONE settlement.

Some people might disagree and say that online casino operators won’t come around unless you “make a stink”. However, our experience shows us that Teddy Roosevelt got it right when he said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”.

Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission: Whitelisted Online Casino Regulator

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission

The Isle of Man is one of the leading licensors and regulators of online casinos today. I suppose it suffices to say they are also one of the leading reputable gaming regulatory bodies in operation. On the UK whitelist of approved jurisdictions to grant licensees the right to advertise in Great Britain, the Isle of Man holds close ties with the regulatory procedures endorsed by who many consider to be the strictest regulatory commission in the world – the UK Gambling Commission.

Geographically, the Isle of Man is not far from the UK at all. In fact, Isle of Man is part of the British Isles (between Ireland and Great Britain) and is a self-governing British crown dependency. While the UK government provides foreign relations, defense and good governance (conducting public affairs for guaranteeing the realization of human rights), Isle of Man is self-governing with a Parliament to handle all domestic affairs. In terms of taxation, Isle of Man imposes an income tax cap of 18% and a 0% corporation tax, thus making it a contender for online gaming corporations to call home.

While the number of gaming operators has varied tremendously in the Isle of Man due to restructuring, some of the biggest names in online gambling now call Isle of Man home, including top-shelf online casino software developer, Microgaming, top-shelf online bingo software developer, Virtue Fusion, and Poker Stars poker room – arguably one of the most popular online poker rooms in the world. There are currently seventeen internet gambling destinations licensed from here. Four of these properties accept wagers from U.S. residents, including Poker Stars, a forex betting site, Backgammon site and skill games room.

Specifically, it is the Gambling Supervision Commission of Isle of Man (a corporate body) that is charged with the issuing of gambling licenses and ongoing monitoring of online casinos, while the Department of Trade and Industry is responsible for overseeing all licensing and regulatory affairs. The primary legislation that enforces Isle of Man’s gambling laws is the Online Gambling Regulation Act of 2001, which contains several key amendments contained within the Gambling Amendment Act of 2006. Regulations under the Online Gambling Regulation Act of 2001 from 2007 onward, cover everything from advertising and registration to licensing fees and systems verification, can be viewed on the Gambling Supervision Commission’s Website.

As with all gambling regulatory bodies, the Gambling Supervision Commission’s core principle’s are:

  1. To keep the gambling industry crime free.
  2. To protect the young and those at risk.
  3. To ensure that the services offered by license holders are fair and that players receive their true winnings.

The commission itself is made up of a Director, Policy Officer, five (5) Gaming Inspectors and two (2) Secretaries with a combined 60 years of experience licensing and regulating gambling operations.

Player Protection Principles

To ensure that all online gambling is conducted fairly and free from crime, the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission abides by the following principles:

Protection of Funds – All online casino operator licensees are required to have a system in place which ensures the protection of all player funds. This means that all deposits and withdrawals are guaranteed and protected by law. Wagered funds that have hitherto been lost are not enforceable by law.

Independent Testing – To ensure that all games proved fair odds and winnings are randomly divulges, each online casino licensee is required to have its software platform independently tested by an accredited testing facility approved by the Commission.

Ongoing Audit and Review – Current licensee holders are subjected to ongoing reviews of marketing and advertising activities, ensuring that responsible gaming standards are met.

The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission has a complaints procedure for players who have exhausted all possible remediation avenues directly with an online casino operator. If no dispute remediation has been offered, contact the Commission directly at gaming@gov.im, providing the full details of your complaint, all supporting documents, the name of the operator, your account user name and contact information.

If remediation has been offered by a license holder and you are not satisfied with the terms, the independent arbitration service, Independent Betting Adjudication Services (IBAS), should be contacted. All licensees of regulatory jurisdictions are required to name an external adjudication service as part of their licensing requirements, and IBAS is an internationally recognized leader in this field.