“There are fraudsters and there are dirty, rotten fraudsters”
Player fraud has always been a problem in online gambling, but it’s never really threatened to become an overwhelming problem. However these past few years, and especially this year, has seen a marked rise in the vigor and pervasiveness of a particular kind of fraudster: Self-Exclusion (SE) scammers. These are people who claim to have done an SE at Casino X for gambling addiction reasons and then later want their losses at Casino X (or Y) refunded because of that previous SE (whether it actually existed or not).
On the surface this seems perfectly reasonable — player has gambling problem, casino ignores it, player should be compensated — except that this, like many other serious issues, is often not what it appears at first to be.
The normal cycle in the fraud-fighting battle at casinos is that when a fraudster scam gets to be too damaging the casinos will adapt to ring-fence and ultimately neutralize the threat (as best they can). Unfortunately these days that adaptation is being made much more difficult because the gambling jurisdictions are becoming increasingly politicized. Jurisdiction is managed by the government, government needs to get elected, those elected want to appear favourable in the eyes of the voters so they have a tendency to say or do what they think will get them re-elected. The end result is that governance of the gambling sector is being shaped as much by re-election strategies as the desire for good policy and the need for a healthy industry.
SE tends to fall under the umbrella of Responsible Gambling and that has become a very hot political topic indeed. Take the UK for example: “the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board proposes for the three years 2016-17 to 2018-19 to encourage responsibility in gambling, to reduce or mitigate gambling-related harm, and to increase the protection of the vulnerable.” And the purpose of the RGSB (rgsb.org.uk) is to advise the UK Gambling Commission — better known as the UKGC — and ultimately the government, which they have and do. The end result has been considerably more attention being focused on Responsible Gambling practices within casinos and, as many of us have seen, fines and punishments being handed out where the UKGC perceives there to have been a failure of said companies to “meet standards”.
The problem is that nowhere in the “encourage responsibility … mitigate gambling-related harm … protection of the vulnerable” mandate is there anything about dealing with Responsible Gambling-related fraud. There simply is no official recognition of the need for casinos and other industry-related bodies to detect, identify and fight player fraud as it relates to Responsible Gambling. And everyone on the industry side of the fence knows that there is whole lot of fraud to fight.
Unfortunately fighting fraud as a policy issue is hard to sell to the voters so, for the most part, there is no policy. In fact the UKGC in particular has deliberatly turned it’s back on the entire issue: ADRs were specifically instructed to ignore evidence of player fraud and to not look for such evidence in future cases.
Things have evolved a bit since then but the game remains fundamentally unchanged: casinos are being left to deal with SE fraud on their own and as best they can. When there are SE/Responsible Gambling complaints against a casino they often end up taking those UKGC fines on the chin because it’s simply more pragmatic to just pay up and move on. Fighting back with evidence of player fraud is not an option.
This imbalance in the playing field has seriously exacerbated the SE fraud problem. In this past year SE-related cases were by far our largest single area of complaint and the ovewhelming majority of those were fraudulent or unfounded. Other well-respected peers of ours in the industry are seriously considering to flat-out refuse to deal with SE cases simply because of the time and resource-drain they cause. And long-time professionals in the business have said as they were heading out the door for greener pastures, “Self-Exclusion policy is ruining the industry.”
Yes, that’s all anecdotal evidence, but it’s also the pulse of industry from the inside and it’s no exaggeration to say that those folks — us included — are not happy about the way this is going.
So for all those SE chancers out there who have taken the good intentions of governments and licensing jurisdictions — not to mention the casinos attempting to comply — to “protect the vulnerable” and turned that into a game of fraud for personal profit we offer the Evil Player Award of 2018: congratulations douche-bags.
Evil Player’s Historical Awards:
Evil Player 2017– asshole guy
Evil Player 2016– Chipmunk_936
Evil Player 2015 – HIGHIQ
Evil Player 2014 – HIGHIQ
Evil Player 2013 – Group award to scammers
Evil Player 2012 – Rrao
Evil Player 2011 – Gid88
Evil Player 2010 – Diamondale
Evil Player 2009 – Kildare
Evil Player 2008 – BigRounder72
Evil Player 2007 – Actoreddie
Evil Player 2006 – Group award to all fraudsters
Evil Player 2005 – NY05
Evil Player 2004 – Evil Stephan
Evil Player 2003 – Rainfall
Evil Player 2002 – Evil RhondaX