888 / Casino On Net Condoning Site Scraping & Copyright Theft?

Webzcas

Winter is Coming!
This issue affects all webmasters and to a certain extent players of online casinos.

888 Holdlings PLC, the powerhouse behind brands such as 888.com and Pacific Poker have over the last couple of months come in for a battering from concerned webmasters over on CAP regarding their lack of action when dealing with Site Scrapers.

Currently there is a thread over on Casino Affiliate Programs which has run into 15 pages over a period of 1 and a half months, solely dealing with the issue.

So what is Site Scraping exactly, for those of you not up to speed with all the various technical speak?


  • Basically Site Scraping is where a black/grey hat webmaster uses a bot to grab as much content as possible from different websites. This content is then used to form the basis of this webmasters new site.

    So not only is this content theft, the offending site could possibly affect your own sites rankings in the Search Engines if they utilise your stolen content as it is possible you will be hit by a duplicate content filter, thus lowering your serps across the board.

    The benefits of scraping allows these webmasters to upload normally recently expired domains that they have purchased thus avoiding the google sandbox, with thousands of pages of themed content. This in turn will initially allow the site to rank highly for it's targetted terms. However, the pages being served to the visitor will redirect to the targetted casino of which the webmaster either affiliates with, or works for.

    Google and the other Search Engines, do eventually ban sites from their index that practice the above. However the problem is, that ten more are put in their place for every one banned.

Over on Casino Affiliate Programs, many many sites which promote 888 Holding's Brands have been reported to the 888 Rep. Due to the fact that they are engaging in site scraping and thus stealing the hard work of other webmasters.

Unlike other Affiliate Programs, such as Wagershare, Brightshare and 32Red who take a very dim view of their affiliates engaging in illegal activities, 888 seem to be dragging their feet on this issue. To the extent, that one can surmise that they either don't care too much, or they are earning too much revenue as a result of these illegal sites, that they do not wish to cut off this particular revenue stream.

Also, unlike other affiliate programs, 888's Affiliate Program does not currently vet the websites of webmasters who wish to promote them. This means anyone can throw up a banner in cyberspace and start promoting 888. Not only that, no check is made to see if the site in question is not engaging in activities which are illegal i.e: content theft.

Given the vast size of 888's marketing budget, I find it surprising that no resources are set aside for this particular area. I mean, they can afford to sponsor Middlesbrough Football Club, The World Snooker Championships and also advertise on MSN Messenger, but they are unable to police effectively their affiliate network? :eek2:

Ok so why should people be concerned at this practice? Well quite simply put, by taking firm action against these scrapers in the form of permanently shutting down each and every one account. 888/Cassava have the power to help eliminate scraping from our industry. As it will no longer be possible to earn a lucrative living off the back of somebody elses hard work.

The latest post from the 888 Rep on Cap states this:

However, discussing our policies, is a process that takes time, and I hope you understand that this means we will not have immediate answers to post here.
My own view is the following:

Why is it taking 888 a month and a half to come to a decision which should be clear cut?

So this brings me onto another dubious blackhat activity and the Art of Blog Spamming. Blog Spamming as some may already know, is a webmaster's way of gaining backlinks to their website and thus helping to increase their own rankings in the search engines such as google, msn and yahoo. Whilst being extremely annoying for the owner of the blog that has been spammed, it also goes against the guidelines laid down by all the main search engines.

So what i want to know is, why do 888 Holdings / Cassava actively participate in this activity?

The site www.casinoonnet-online.com is registered to the following company:

  • Registrant [52981]:
  • Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd.
  • Europort 601-701
  • Gibraltar
  • Gibraltar
  • 1111
  • GI


  • Administrative Contact [52981]:
  • Guy Margolin
  • Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd.
  • Europort 601-701
  • Gibraltar
  • Gibraltar
  • 1111
  • GI
  • Phone: +350.49800
  • Fax: +350.50309


  • Billing Contact [52981]:
  • Guy Margolin
  • Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd.
  • Europort 601-701
  • Gibraltar
  • Gibraltar
  • 1111
  • GI
  • Phone: +350.49800
  • Fax: +350.50309

Ok so what is the harm with that? Well on digging deeper and looking at all the links this site has, it appears an employee or employees of Cassava have been very busy indeed spamming blogs. Take a look at this:

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Examining the backlinks, as well as the several thousand blog spams, these two sites stuck out:

xxhttp://patish27.l1h.net/

xxhttp://site2all.250free.com/

Unbelievable!

So you may say, what's wrong with that? Well blog spam as with forum spam, email spam is just that. An annoying everyday occurence of the internet which we can do all without. Furthermore Cassava with their site are breaking search engine guidelines laid done by the likes of google, msn, yahoo as a result of taking part in blog spamming.

Indeed, the blog spam coming from Cassava direct and their collection of rogue affiliates has even made it onto Wikipedia:

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Furthermore other webmasters not even in our industry have been affected by it:

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With all problems and concerns regarding the legality of Online Gambling in the US with HR4777 at this moment in time, it is not good for one of the largest online gambling companies to participate in these activities. Indeed as a Public Listed Company on the FTSE/LSE, they should lead by example.
 
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Casinomeister

Forum Cheermeister
Staff member
Admin note:

I've moved this from the Webmaster's Section to here since I feel that this affects everyone in this industry: affiliates, operators, players, etc.

Site scraping and content theft are very serious issues that need to be halted now.
 

jargon

Dormant account
I am in total agreement. This 888.com stuff has too stop, my personal opinion they are criminals and should be dealt with as such.:thumbsup:
 

Simmo!

Moderator
Staff member
Great detective work Webzcas.

The text on those two sites you highlight would be hilarious if it wasn't so blatantly underhand:

One would, should he caught a look of terror in her online casino eyes, be a question of waiting for breakfast
Night and day were 888 the same in this prison room, or daughter, for it was one of the gang. Free betting are you, with sudden glints of gold in it
(the bold bits above were linked in the text).

This is unreal. Imagine if this were any other big company outside of our industry!

All these pages link to other pages in a "network", each with different chunks of what appears to be randomly generated text, but in actual fact could just as easily be copied from other sites and pasted together to appear random - a not uncommon practice - but incredibly difficult to prove.

Irrespective of where that text comes from, each page, somewhere in it, links to the domain Webzcas highlights in his initial post. Its using the clasic "contextual linking" mechanism that search engines use to assume as a "vote" for each link, with the aim obviously of spamming the target site up to the top of the search results.
 
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dominique

Dormant account
I have rogued them here
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which is #1 in google for blacklisted casinos and ranks well under rogue casinos etc also.

That a supposedly respectable, public company resorts to such underhanded and illegal methods is simply disgusting.

I expect this sort of thing from fly by night outfits and not a supposedly respectable place like 888.

I guess the scumware isn't performing anymore because people got smart and use spyware removers, so the next thing is spamming the searchengines.

What a poor reflection on this industry. As if we weren't in enough legal trouble already.
 

Webzcas

Winter is Coming!
dominique said:
I have rogued them here
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which is #1 in google for blacklisted casinos and ranks well under rogue casinos etc also.
I have given them until tomorrow to let us know how they are going to deal with this very serious problem. As far as I am concerned it is a black and white issue. They have to stop lining the pockets of the scrapers who promote their brands. Anything less, is no good.

Failure to resolve this, will mean I will also be adding them and their other brands such as Pacific Poker to my Rogue Section. Which ranks just below CM for rogue casinos in google.
 

Webzcas

Winter is Coming!
Bryan, does 888 have a Rep registered here? Our ( Webmasters on CAP ) dealings with Shelly the rep on CAP have not been very helpful.

I have even offered to meet with John Anderson to discuss this issue as I am conveniently based across the road from their Gibraltar Offices, but was ignored. Shelly preferred stalling until the CAP Spring Break in Miami at the end of May to discuss this issue face to face.

Unfortunately I do not have any contacts with even middle management at Cassava, so this is not something I can pursue myself.
 

dominique

Dormant account
I have left word for John that I am willing to talk, but I would be quite surprised if he took me up on it.
 

Casinomeister

Forum Cheermeister
Staff member
Webzcas said:
Bryan, does 888 have a Rep registered here? Our ( Webmasters on CAP ) dealings with Shelly the rep on CAP have not been very helpful...
No, after Vahe left (two years ago) they never got someone to take his place. Too bad.
 

dominique

Dormant account
Thanks.

That fits right in.
 

Chatmaster

Dormant account
I think the time has come for 888 to realise they have a major problem. There has now been allot of evidence that they are indeed condoning spamming. This explains why they deal so "harshly" sarcasm with affiliates that makes use of this strategy. When looking at their T&C for their affiliates there is no trace of them stating that affiliates would be banned and commissions confiscated. This in it self is in my view an admission of guilt.

Nice job Dave. It is good to see actual evidence instead of just talk. I am sure if we investigate further there will be more ;) . Another concern I have is, if greed is their attitude towards webmasters and spam, what is their attitude towards players. $$$$$catching$$$$$$?
 

Webzcas

Winter is Coming!
Sodax77 said:
(Greedy) 888.com vs Intercasino.com

xhttp://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?&range=max&size=large&compare_sites=www.intercasino.com&y=r&size=large&range=1y&url=www.888.com#top

Good Catch :thumbsup:

To the extent, that one can surmise that they either don't care too much, or they are earning too much revenue as a result of these illegal sites, that they do not wish to cut off this particular revenue stream.
The thing is though. Theft is theft. The fact that 888 are blatantly paying these thieves that scrape and steal content, means they support copyright theft.

I implore 888 to do the right thing and cut off the feeding tube to each and every one webmaster that scrapes and steals content permanently. This should be easy enough to write into their terms and conditions.

There should be no second chances for any rogue affiliates and webmasters that feed off others hard work.

Furthermore, I would like 888 to step up to the plate and explain the blog spamming which i have detailed in the first post in this thread.
 
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AussieDave

Dodgy whacko backstabber
I don't want to ruffle feathers here nor is this post directed towards any hidden agenda issues either.

With that said I find it of great concern that on one hand <and lets not spilt hairs or play semantics> CON <888> with MG were the ones to inject the start up funds for eCogra. John Anderson <Chief Executive Officer> for CON also holds a current seat as Member Representative Directors for eCogra along with Roger Raatgever <MG Chief Executive Officer>.

Now we can all use fancy BIG words but getting down to brass tacks the main objective <least from my perspective & understanding> is that eCogra was formed to bridge confidence in players of MG casinos & CON, adding it was also formed to allow a structured mediation process.

Along the way its secondary function may also have been to instil a feeling of integrity and trust to the greater community <not necessarily nor primarily just for gamblers>.

eCogra is not populated by chumps it has an impressive list of highly educated and respected board members who head up its helm.

Therefore given the light of CON's current stand point on its wayward affiliates site scaping activities, I personally find it absurd that eCogra has not stepped into this matter. It's highly possible that John Anderson's hand is not on the pulse regarding this issue, still it would seem as plain as the nose on my face that given the connections here <eCogra does endorse www.casinomesiter.com and other sites too> that this issue should be raised directly with him.
 

Simmo!

Moderator
Staff member
My understanding is that it is simply that eGOGRA do not see dealing with affiliate issues as part of their remit.
 

rowmare

Dormant account
Although this isn't related directly to scraping, I would like to repeat a post I made at CAP about the effects of the marketing strategies 888.con is prominent in:

----------

This post is, with any luck, a wake up call to Casinos who will take traffic anyway they can get it, regardless of how their image is subsequently tarnished.

(all bolding has been added by rowmare)
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Properties mentioned: Cassava Enterprises (888.com), PartyGaming.
However, whether the casinos endorse this behaviour, turn a blind eye to it or are simply totally oblivious, they are still guilty of failing to protect their brand names and ensure their business is promoted responsibly, at a time when online gaming is in the glare of the authorities' spotlight.

Anti-spam expert Mark Sunner, CTO at MessageLabs, told silicon.com: "There isn't much worse a tarnish than being lumped in with the spam and virus lot."
---

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Properties mentioned: Cassava Enterprises (888.com)
Comment spam trail leads to a company with pending $1.5billion IPO with CSFB.

... If, in turn, a significant number of 888.com affiliates are using pagerank gaming techniques via site spamming, then wiping out those affiliates could dramatically affect their revenues and hence the IPO price.

Imagine if Amazon, planning to IPO, had been involved directly or even indirectly with using mass spamming for its marketing, or if a significant portion of their revenues was based upon affiliates that were operating fraudulently, without them knowing. Is that what is happening here?
---

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... plc_affi.html
- Another site who is tracking unethical practices, and mentions 88.com as the culprit, or behind the affiliated culprits

---

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- being discussed in forum about SE spam (888.con)

------------------

The list is endless. The results in the search were plentiful, but I've posted enough links to make a point.

These people are damaging the reputation of this industry "... at a time when online gaming is in the glare of the authorities' spotlight."

If interested in our industry, everybody should get involved in cleaning up online gambling SEO by pressuring the programs to run clean. Blackhatting might be making a ton of money today, but the future isn't clear.

_______________
Fergie


I am all in favor of blacklisting them for their liberal use of Scumware alone, never mind the rest of it.
 

Simmo!

Moderator
Staff member
What doesn't help is that when affiliates see this, they often take the "if you can't beat them, join them" approach. Part of the reason that this side of the industry gets deservedly lambasted.
 

Webzcas

Winter is Coming!
To answer your question Trezz. eCOGRA recommends several casino portals, such as CasinoMeister and indeed my own site.

However eCOGRA deals solely with player disputes and does not get involved in webmaster issues. However the fact that portals are recommended by eCOGRA does not mean that we webmasters lose our independence and impartiality.

I think the fact that myself being the webmaster of a portal recommended by eCOGRA, yet I can post this thread raising very very valid concerns re: 888 demonstrates this fact of independence and impartiality - Which I value highly.

As for contacting eCOGRA regarding this issue. I believe several webmasters have touched base with Andrew over the past few days. I myself have as of yet not.
 

rowmare

Dormant account
Simmo! said:
My understanding is that it is simply that eGOGRA do not see dealing with affiliate issues as part of their remit.
Perhaps they might reconsider, in light of the scumware issue? I believe players are affects, also, when Search Engine results take them to sites that practically clog their computers with pop-ups.
 

Simmo!

Moderator
Staff member
Webzcas said:
To answer your question. eCOGRA recommends several casino portals, such as this one and indeed my own site.
LOL....c'mon then you-know-who...there's your opening ;)
 
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