Posts Tagged ‘online gambling certifications’

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 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?

Online Casino Fairness 101: Turning to eCOGRA for Some Answers

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

fist

How about a fair fist! Demand transparency from online casinos!

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I have to say that I am increasingly becoming frustrated with the uncertainty of getting a fair hand online gambling these days. With more and more online casinos boasting software fairness accreditation claims, yet no mention of monthly payout reports, I’m beginning to wonder what is really going on behind closed doors.

Maybe there’s other affiliate portal sites out there wondering the same. The only thing is that I don’t hear anybody asking the tough questions that need to be asked. Well then, no more I say! And who better to help the industry with these answers than the purveyor of the highest fairness and transparency standards out there today: eCOGRA.

That said, I, Devon Chappell (on behalf of Online Casino Suite), have decided to start a blog series that takes a close look at how online casinos are regulated in the various jurisdictions out there. By means of writing emails to the necessary parties that can aid in our enlightenment (such as eCOGRA), and then publishing consequent correspondences, our aim is to better educate players. I can’t say if we’ll get the answers we want, but you can’t knock the intent!

Without further ado, email #1:  Legitimacy of Software Fairness Certificates (such as TST & CFG) and the Absence of Payout Reports

Dear eCOGRA,

This is Devon Chappell with Online Casino Suite. We are an eCOGRA approved portal site and would first of all like to thank you for all of your hard work in raising the standards for the online gambling industry. Speaking of which, that is precisely why I am writing today. My question does not necessarily pertain to eCOGRA specifically, yet I could hardly think of a better organization suited to know the correct information. We truly take great pride in being advocates for players, which we believe should include educating them about how it is they actually receive a safe and fair wager online – not just telling them they will get a safe and fair bet.

I understand if you don’t have the time to address these questions. However, I would greatly appreciate any feedback.

I’m fully aware of how the RNG works to deliver fair and random betting results, as well as the basic principle behind source code. However, what I’m not sure about is how exactly this interplays with regulation – more specifically, ongoing regulation. I am also unclear about these online casinos claiming to be approved by Technical Systems Testing, CFG or the like. Many of these online casinos don’t even link to certificates, and of those that do, the certificates are generally from a few years back and only state the name of the software and not the online casino. And, you certainly can’t find certificates at the websites of the folks handing out the certificates themselves!

That being said, I was hoping you could help answer these questions:

Does a fairness accreditation of the software necessarily mean the casino is fair, especially if said casino is regulated in a jurisdiction where source code changes are permitted? Would the casino then need to have an accreditation specifically for its own licensed platform – and a monthly one at that?

How does one know if they are getting a fair wager if an online casino does not have any payout percentage reports to show for?

Lastly, does anyone at eCOGRA know anything about the regulatory protocols of Curacao (Netherlands, Antilles)? We have a few online casinos listed at Online Casino Suite that are licensed in Curacao; however, for the life of us, we can’t find any official website that goes into details about the regulatory protocols here. It’s been said that the Netherlands Department of Justice does an initial due-diligence investigation, and we’ve also come across a “master licensor” known as Cyberluck, yet nothing is said as to how ongoing regulation is maintained.

We’ve heard that, depending on the regulatory jurisdiction, online casino operators are permitted to change their source code. Of course, so long as all the numbers match up come audit time, there is nothing wrong with that.  Do you know which – if any – of the non-UK whitelisted regulatory jurisdictions out there allow online casino operators to change source code? Kahnawake? Antigua? Curacao?

Honestly, Online Casino Suite is not so much concerned about the UK gambling commission and its white-listed jurisdictions, such as Alderney and Gibraltar. However, we are particularly concerned about some of the other jurisdictions out there. Also, we do not know if eCOGRA works closely with TST, but we are beginning to have our doubts about the legitimacy of their logo accreditation. I have tried contacting them to discuss these issues to no avail. And yet, they allow online casinos to display the TST approved logo – but with no actual accreditation to show for. The Rome Partners network of online casinos, including Rome Casino herself (highly reputable, all things considered), still links to a press release from almost a year ago, stating they are approved by TST – but there’s no accreditation to show for!

Sorry to get off track and making this long-winded, however, I am getting very frustrated with the industry! Thank you so much again for everything you guys do, and I pray for the day when regulation will open in the U.S. and Online Casino Suite can promote the hell out of eCOGRA and eCOGRA approved online casinos to the U.S. gaming community!

Dear eCOGRA, Thanks for listening.

Best Regards,

Devon Chappell

New Online Casino Review at OCS Qualifies for Homepage Listing

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

There’s a new face in the online casino reviews directory here at OCS. In fact, this highly rated Rival Gaming powered online casino even made it to the OCS homepage. How’s that, you ask? What gives one online casino homepage precedence over another? Heck, as strict as we are at granting listings in our reviews directory, period, how is it that some online casinos are listed, while others – albeit equally qualified – are not.

Errrrrrrrrrr!!!!! (sound of screeching car tires) Hold it right there! What’s that you say? Two equally qualified online casinos may not get equal exposure here at OCS? One may not even get any exposure at all? Well, pray do tell, what gives?

First of all, these are some great questions. How do you know that we aren’t a conglomerate working on behalf of all the online casinos listed at OCS? For that matter, how do you know we are not Russian spy’s working on behalf of the President Pootin (I mean Putin) and his submissive love buddy ice skating pal, Evgeny Plushenko (who won the gold medal in Vancouver, by the way)? Seriously though, this would entail a conflict of interest and some serious bias would it not? And as much as I want to say, “Rest assured, OCS does not work for any of the online casinos listed on our site”, we fully understand that the most skeptic of the skeptics still might have some reservations trusting our word.

That’s why we always encourage our skeptic readers to do some further research and find out what others are saying about a particular online casino. And believe me, there is plenty of information out there. Google is your best friend! The only thing is that much of this information isn’t backed up, but is simply hot air. That’s precisely why you will find lengthy and detailed reviews of each of the online casinos listed at OCS. Not hot air, mind you, but rather, facts and objective observations.

But this still doesn’t necessarily explain why two equally qualified online casinos may not get the same amount of exposure on our reviews pages, does it not? Well, here’s the thing. OCS is not a directory of online casinos. In other words, we are not exhaustive, as opposed to a site like Online Casino City, which albeit, more exhaustive, does not provide the detail and comprehensive nature which our reviews provide. If we comprehensively reviewed every online halfway decent online casino in business today, we would be more like the Wikipedia of online casinos and overwhelm our readers with too many choices.

The other aspect you must consider is that while two online casinos are equally qualified in their credentials, that does not mean they are equal in areas of bonuses, payouts, customer service, loyalty rewards and a host of other factors. OCS takes into consideration the overall package. Believe us – It’s not about money. That’s precisely why we don’t accept paid advertising.

And yes, we take into consideration the fact that some online casinos are more willing to work with us than others. This is a good thing, for our selectiveness gives us more say when dealing with potential player complaints. Online casino operators know how hard it is to get listed at OCS. They would be foolish to not amicably deal with player complaints that potentially come through OCS. In other words, they are more willing to work things out with players when OCS is involved. When our referred players are happy, that makes us happy. Mind you, that doesn’t mean we are always going to take the side of the player. But if there is a dispute, a lag in customer service or any grey issue that needs resolving, we will always jump to the defense of the player.

In conclusion (let’s bring this back full circle, shall we?), that new addition to the OCS online casinos reviews section and homepage I talked about in the intro paragraph, certainly qualifies for a featured listing at OCS. The site is none other than Ruby Royal Casino, and as mentioned, is a licensee of Rival Gaming software. There are many Rival Gaming licensees in business today, and here at OCS we have just six Rival Gaming powered online casinos listed on our site. They all stand out for different reasons – And for Ruby Royal, it’s the fact they are the first – and currently – only Rival online casino to be given an operator TST approval.

For those not familiar with what a TST approval is, it means that the Ruby Royal Casino software platform has undergone extensive testing to ensure it is safe, fair and cannot be manipulated. TST, by the way, is an internationally recognized software testing facility. Furthermore, Ruby Royal Casino submits itself to ongoing payout audits, thus confirming payout percentages, which are verified by the actual TST reports linked through the Ruby Royal website. Considering the history of Ruby’s management team – Bonne Chance NV/Silverstone Overseas Ltd (which has been in business for nearly ten years), and the promotions offered at Ruby Royal – 200% up to $1,000 Free Welcome Bonus on a single deposit with 15x play-through – it’s pretty obvious to us that Ruby Royal Casino deserves to be on the OCS homepage.

For more information, read the OCS Ruby Royal Casino Review

Casino Affiliate Programs (CAP) to Implement Community Certification of Programs

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Affiliates Have a Say at CAP

Affiliates Have a Say at CAP

Just as CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com (CAP) announces the introduction of a new community certification program that allows affiliates to offer input and have a say regarding which affiliate programs are approved and listed in CAP’s directory, one such recently approved program was at the core of a scandal unearthed by players posting on the Casino Meister forum board. In a way, you could say the introduction of the program hasn’t come at a better time.

Not going into too much detail about the drama on the forums, let’s just say that the Jackpots Heaven online casino was recently given the green light by CAP, only to be found out by players of running a questionable business, if not a sham online casino altogether. What matters now is that CAP does indeed get this community certification program off its feet and the participation of it’s 10,000+ affiliate members.

The way the system will work is that in order for a new affiliate program to be considered for approval, the program must be established for a minimum of six months, and have a dedicated affiliate program manager who is active in the CAP community. A handful of programs meeting such criteria will then go up for a vote before CAP’s affiliate community. After 30-days of voting, if the affiliate program has received an 80% approval rating, it will be endowed with CAP’s Community Seal to display on it’s property websites, and will also be highlighted on the CAP website. Each month, new programs will go up for a vote, with those not receiving 80% approval permitted to resubmit at a later date.

CAP is also implementing a new complaints program allowing affiliates to post complaints about affiliate programs, ie, slow/non payment of earnings, player abuse etc., out of which private mediation services will be provided by CAP representatives.

From the perspective of a player, news like this is not only good, it’s relevant. In the world of affiliate marketing, it’s difficult to keep bias, ie., money, out of influencing which online casinos get promoted the most. The same is true for affiliate programs seeking a listing in the CAP directory, or any affiliate network for that matter. With the new community certification program, the bias-factor is greatly reduced, for it allows approved affiliates to each have their say.

Affiliates, albeit middle-men, hold great sway in the success of online casinos – those which the affiliates promote or review, at least. Dominating the search engines and being highly skilled in the affairs of Web technology, the best affiliates help to make the entire online gambling industry go round and actually drive the bulk of revenue that goes into the thousands of internet betting destinations out there.

So, when an online casino is acting up and threatens the good name of the online gambling industry which many of the 10,000+ affiliate members of CAP have worked hard to develop, enough affiliates can make sure that online casino goes out of business, whether it be via a mass blacklisting or simply a collective choice to abstain from doing business via the casino’s affiliate program. Think of CAP as being a giant union with tremendous bargaining power. With the introduction of the community certification system, CAP proves why it is the most respected and trusted (albeit a few slipups over the years) online casino affiliate programs in business today.