What on earth is happening to the online casino industry?

TheBloke

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In the past 2-3 months, we have seen:

  • Grand Prive rogued for allowing an underage user to play at all their casinos
  • Casino-On-Net rogued for spam/site theft
  • Jackpot Factory rogued for predatory and irresponsible marketing
  • English Harbour caught dealing an unfair game
  • Belle Rock found to be rejecting ID documents without explanation and requiring unreasonable extra certification which they then also reject
All of these were (previously) reputable and reliable groups, and all of them have dragged their reputations through the mud very recently.

What is happening to this industry? This is a time when casinos should be pulling out all the stops to prove themselves honest, lest the whole industry collapses under the weight of the US anti-gambling bill.

Instead we are seeing a string of public debacles that make the industry as a whole seem like a joke. Anyone looking for ammunition in the fight against online casinos would need look no further than the Casinomeister complaints forum for the past couple of months. Goodlatte et al must be rubbing their hands in glee at the stupidity of all these operators.

Is this just a coincidence? Or is competition hotting up so much that they feel they have to use any trick to get ahead? I would love to hear from any 'industry insiders' who might be able to shed light on whether these recent events are part of a greater trend, or whether it is just unfortunate that all of these groups have shown their true colours at the same time.
 

soflat

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I think some of those have been ongoing problems that are just coming out in the open now.
 

Pinababy69

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What an absolutely great post The Bloke, and a topic certainly worthy of discussion. I'd also love to hear anyone's viewpoints on why all of this is happening.
 

Simmo!

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I think some of the "old-timers" will probably argue that things are a lot better now than they used to be :) What we're seeing at the moment, IMO, is casinos in a very competitive field trying to get an advantage. And yes, I know some of the tactics employed are "dubious" at best!

But, also, it's a young industry and everything will probably happen once. Let's just hope with the exposure it is only "once". That's how new industries develop...by learning from experience.

I also think that the US and UK and developed countries are partly responsible for not providing a framework of legislation and forcing the industry "offshore". While smaller territories like Gibraltar are perhaps more forward-thinking, they also find themeselves trying to cope with a multi-billion $ industry in its formative years. "Prohibition" in the US will only exacerbate the situation, while the UK at least are looking to provide this framework in the near future.

Interestingly, you'll probably notice that the "big issues" tend not to come from "brands" like the big old Bookmaking brands. Sure they are still learning and make mistakes, but you will never get a Jackpot Factory style issue or an "888" issue at Ladbrokes, Victor Chandler, Coral, Tote, William Hill or Littlewoods for example - in my opinion at least. The closest you'll get is a Bella Vegas which is as much down to software controls and practical issues rather than ethical or "blackhat" standpoints. And this partly comes from the tight regulation they are subject to and more importantly, are used to working within.

Finally, I think many people would be shocked - or pehaps not - at what goes on in the world of big business and politics. Stuff there, were it all to be as publically broadcast to this audience, would make the issues we are seeing pale into insignificance! Or maybe we have simply accepted that it happens through media saturation and forget the fact.

Just my thoughts - great subject by the way TB :D

Simmo!
 
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TheBloke

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Very good points Simmo. I agree that these issues are probably inevitable, and also probably mostly coincidental in timing.

It's just such a shame that all of this is happening at the worst possible time.

That said, I think it quite likely that Goodlatte and his cronies probably never find out about any of these situations. I suspect they did no research beyond looking at top line numbers, and that probably continues to this day. So hopefully these sort of issues - whilst seeming very big to us - are actually not making much of a difference to the chances of the legislation passing or not.

Nonetheless, there is still a risk that they do get reported outside of the gambling community, and regardless of their effect on the bill they are still very serious in their own right.

I do hope some good will come of this, and the operators realise that they can't continue to screw over their players and the community in such a visible way. Certainly, as you say, this sort of corruption will never go away entirely, but hopefully we can reach a point where at least the individual user can be relatively certain he is not going to be messed with.

Also, and at the risk of throwing yet more fuel on this smouldering fire - I note that all but one (EH) of the list above are eCOGRA approved. Let's also hope that they grow some teeth and actually start addressing the prevalent problems in the industry before someone else addresses them for us, and not in the way we would want.
 

Simmo!

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TheBloke said:
Certainly, as you say, this sort of corruption will never go away entirely, but hopefully we can reach a point where at least the individual user can be relatively certain he is not going to be messed with.

Those who are truly corrupt will eventually be found out. But not before we have casualties along the way. But I think a lot of what we see isn't corruption as such, just poor decisions, a lack of control, or badly misjudged techniques. Or turning a blind eye to situations they have been placed in until it inevitably bites them in the butt. It's equally important, 888 case in point, that the casinos are *seen* to be doing the right thing as much as they are *actually* doing it if they are to remain competitive and respected.

I also think that some players contribute to a number of the issues faced, whether it be knowingly or not. That's not to say the vast majority, but a minority. Sometimes it's down to being ill-informed, but often it's down to sheer human greed - let's call it "competitiveness" :) And the minority cause the majority to suffer in many instances. So while the casinos themselves are the only ones in a realistic position to change the landscape, they will always be up against the less ethical punter.

And the sheer nature of the business means there will always be an element of Them Vs. Us. That's just how it always has been, always will be. That's gambling - two entities trying to gain from the other :) Plus the vocal "moral minority" who feel gambling is bad for everyone will always be out there digging away. Personally, I'd like to see their efforts to change the world focused on getting Bush to particpate in the Kyoto agreement which has far more wide-reaching consequences than gambling! But that's not going to happen. Oh look...we're back round to "greed" again :D
 
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vinylweatherman

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Poor

The worst thing about the BelleRock case is that the the casino is answerable to no-one once eCogra take their side. The player has no means of appeal, and is even prohibited from understanding the causes of the problems, hardly helpful if all they have done is made a silly mistake because they don't have a degree in computer science in order to determine whether they are themselves or the reincarnation of another player as far as cyberspace is concerned.

I suspect that if we find out what is behind all these "documentation" issues, and allowed to make our own minds up we would be scared away from playing. It is arrogant for BelleRock to assume that what they see is evidence of bad faith or fraud by the player, rather than consider the possibility that it is a great big misunderstanding all round, easily corrected once out in the open.

The other cases are more to do with taking a hard business approach to running the casino. The type of approach they object to when their players try it with bonuses!

Big business frequently makes such mistakes, and customers can write and phone till they are blue in the face, but once the company has decided that they owe money, pulled a stunt etc. they refuse to listen to reason. One only has to see how often casinos keep "losing the E-mails" from players once their is an issue.

As the industry matures, it WILL get out into the broader public. BBC TV "Watchdog" have already laid into Paypal, and exposed eBay for shafting it's customers through the very mechanisms that are supposed to protect them. eBay also have a habit of ignoring E-mails, and don't allow alternative means of communication. Online POKER was mentioned this season, this is VERY close indeed to doing an article on casinos, it's a matter of WHEN, rather than IF, and with the UK being saturated with adverts now I expect there are already players writing to consumer programmes as they are so new they are unaware of Casinomeister, or what a "seal" is, or is not, when on a website.

All this bad publicity makes it harder to convince new players that their money is secure, and more important, that they really will get paid when they beat the house on occasion, without the forensic examination into reasons why payment should not be made.

If anyone is interested, the trigger point for BBC Watchdog is about 100 complaints of substance, they can be made through the website on the BBC, and the new season is in the Autumn, just a few months before the provisions that cover remote gaming (online casinos etc) come into force.
 

Slotster!

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Great points Simmo... It's interesting that the 32RED management team hail mainly from established and respected gambling names in the UK - backs up your theory beautifully!
 

Vesuvio

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This was always an unregulated industry, but the silver lining was that sites like Casinomeister were taken seriously. Now we seem to be on the verge of casinos considering them an irrelevance. They don't feel the need to respond to issues and assume that any amount of bad press will have a negligible effect on their business (more than outweighed by the extra profits their policies bring in).

Judging by Bellerock and Casino On Net the casinos now feel comfortable that eCOGRA will simply back them up even if they're just invoking the "we can do whatever we like" clause.

Simmo, you're right about the UK bookmaking brands. They actually do care about their reputation, not to mention the fact that they make enough money to have learnt that it's counterproductive to cheat their players just to cream off some extra profit.
 

Simmo!

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Vesuvio said:
This was always an unregulated industry, but the silver lining was that sites like Casinomeister were taken seriously. Now we seem to be on the verge of casinos considering them an irrelevance.

I think there are quite a number of casinos who take the views expressed here, in the main, pretty seriously. The ones that are trying to be above board and act honestly at least. Or they at least read and digest.

Although I've noticed recently that the site does seem to be attracting more players who see public forums as a means to blackmail a casino, which obviously doesn't help any of us - players, casinos or the perception of the industry. That said, they're not usually tricky to spot and I think most people see them for what they are.

And I'd always feel safe in the hands of an established Bookmaker running an online casino. Doesn't mean their support or service are always up with the smaller independents mind! But that's the all-important "brand image" for you.

Of course conversely, it takes a clever team to stop the brand from growing to the point where it's success is resented. Over here, the more a brand succeeds, the more people want to knock it. Microsoft found that. And now Google are starting to see it. Fickle lot we are eh :D
 

liquidsoap

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greed GREED greed

Thats why most casinos join the business, working in an office making $15 an hour wasnt good enough. Now they got to go for the big time and instead of earning there money by having great customer service and fast cashouts. They have to cheat, or spam, or do what ever jackpot factory is doing to make a decent living.
 

vtlady

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Maybe if Washington would regulate online gaming for our casinos in the USA we wouldn't be having all these problems with online gaming. :thumbsup:

By the way has anyone noticed the link of of Intercasino to the Ucasville Casino in CT?
 

Simmo!

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vtlady said:
Maybe if Washington would regulate online gaming for our casinos in the USA we wouldn't be having all these problems with online gaming.

Definately a contributing factor, only set to get worse if they succeed in introducing the head-in-the-sand prohibition approach.
 

RobWin

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vtlady said:
Maybe if Washington would regulate online gaming for our casinos in the USA we wouldn't be having all these problems with online gaming. :thumbsup:

By the way has anyone noticed the link of of Intercasino to the Ucasville Casino in CT?


They will be regulating it in about two years or less when Harrah's and MGM go live online at least in the US. Harrah's already has plans in progress and software development too. I know something, :D :D
 

MarcyW

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RobWin said:
They will be regulating it in about two years or less when Harrah's and MGM go live online at least in the US. Harrah's already has plans in progress and software development too. I know something, :D :D

So you think that while Congress has pending bills to ban online gaming totally that major US corporations are in development? I know something too, that your statement is a little hard to believe. Especially when you hint at secret info that you are privy to. If you knew something then share it.
 

pacers31

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I agree, share the info if you really have it. It would make sense that American politicians would want American gambling entities to be the ones to profit from online regulation, but since when does something have to make sense for politicians to be involved in it???LOL! As long as the right wing holy rollers have their way, it will be banned. The only hope is that the congress will run out of time in the current session and that in November the make up of the legislature will change favorably for all of us. If it makes it to a vote this session, the morality police will win and it will be banned. Seems the party of "less government" has changed it's spots.
 

caruso

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I echo the basic sentiment of the thread, with the small caveat that it hardly comes as a surprise to me. Microgaming is held as the general standard to which other providers should be judged, yet in the space of six months we've had some of the biggest groups - Grand Priv, Jackpot Factory, Bellerock and Trident - pulling stunts ranging from unacceptably irritating to downright diabolical and absolute worthy of casino roguedom. These groups represent a substantial chunk of that particular provider's stable. These are the "best". :confused::confused:

From a player's perspective, the future looks very bleak: most Microgaming casinos can be trusted no more; almost NO Playtechs can be, and the same can be said for RTG. There is a handful of acceptable smaller providers - Net Entertainment, Wagerworks - covering casinos you can practically count on one hand. Of the other big players, Cassava are now tainted with the site-scraping issue and player non-payment "bonus abuse" issues. The casino arm of PartyGaming seems almost the best of the bunch (LOOOOOOL, iGlobalMedia - go figure :)) - but are their casinos patronised much? And then, they have several casino software "glitch" issues that they have totally failed to respond to. Why? For the same reason these other groups are now moving over to the dark side - because they can; they consider themselves big enough to weather any storm. And they're right. They pretty much ARE big enough to be able to withstand the occasional forum battering, particularly since many of these now have eCOGRA fighting their corner.

To anyone asking my advice about the viability of entering the online gambling scene now, I would advise them to stay far away. Even with the obvious adherent advantages to be had online gambling, the risks are now quite phenomenal.
 

Simmo!

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caruso said:
From a player's perspective, the future looks very bleak: most Microgaming casinos can be trusted no more.

I think there are undoubtedly a handful of operations that need to improve...no-one could argue that, but I think a lot depends on the definition of the word "trusted". I'd say that I feel safe at *most* Microgaming casinos, in the sense that I know I will get paid and the games are fair. But I don't generally do bonuses, which obviously makes life a lot lot easier, and that's not to say that a lot of the operations couldn't improve, particularly when it comes to handling more efficient cashouts.

I think the crux of it for me personally is that I am above the legal age to gamble, I don't take bonuses and I tend to play at Microgaming and Cryptologic casinos, or brands that I know very well. With this in mind, I've never once had a problem at the dozens of casinos I have played bar the odd annoying delay for documentation or the suchlike. I've never not received what's due to me. That probably gives me a slightly one-sided picture mind you, but the message is clear - to me anyway :D
 
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paul02085

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I am tired of hearing excuses for and by these casinos like they used bad judgement, didnt train people well, etc. There are alot of things being done by these businesses that all professional managers know should NEVER be done yet they still happen. Nobody can tell me these are inncocent mistakes, rather as liquidsoap says its all GREED.

They figure lets throw all kinds of garbage at the wall and see what sticks. Its a shame to see MG sites starting to act like RTG and Playtech. Very sad.
 

Pinababy69

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paul02085 said:
Very sad.

That about sums up the way I feel about it. Personally, I'm getting real close to just walking away from it all.
 

The Watchdog

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IMHO

I believe that what is happening is that during the last years a lot of people have learned that this has become a very lucrative business, so anyone with some extra bucks in his pocket, an it guy and some guy pretending to know about marketing can run an online gambling business.

This has caused the industry to grow so much, that now we are over flooded with non-professional operations and scammers on every corner.

I am not saying the casinos mentioned on the first post belong to this group, may be they just slipped on some things, but is amazing how the industry has grown over the last 3-4 years.

Now days is very easy to find casinos offering amazing bonuses, fast payouts, excellent service but probably only 5% of all the online gambling sites are really making an effort to keep their customers satisfied and focusing on providing a better product every day.
 

mitch

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It's not all doom and gloom out there.

Same as Simmo said I have always been paid by every casino I have ever played at. Never been messed about even, apart from some casinos seeking ID before payment.

If you get the right casino and build up a good relationship with them they can really look after you well.

As an example I am flying to Germany in a couple of weeks time for a few days staying in one of Germanys top hotels and getting a fully hosted VIP hospitality package for the World Cup. All this courtesy of the casino.

This is just one of many fantastic events that have been offered to me over the last year. These offers are on top of 20,000 worth of Match bonuses offered during the same period.

The good casinos will surely rise to the top in this business.
Rip off merchants cannot survive for ever against those that provide the customer service that players will come to expect in what is still a new and developing business.

Mitch
 

Slotster!

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mitch said:
It's not all doom and gloom out there.
As an example I am flying to Germany in a couple of weeks time for a few days staying in one of Germanys top hotels and getting a fully hosted VIP hospitality package for the World Cup. All this courtesy of the casino.


Mitch

Hmmm.. Which casino is this exactly!?? I think I need to play there!!! :D
 

caruso

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Simmo! said:
I'd say that I feel safe at *most* Microgaming casinos, in the sense that I know I will get paid and the games are fair. But I don't generally do bonuses, which obviously makes life a lot lot easier...I don't take bonuses and I tend to play at Microgaming and Cryptologic casinos.

All these Microgaming issues, apart from Jackpot Factory, revolve around bonuses. Of course casinos don't create problems for slot junkies. Casinos don't like bonus players. Here's the difference: Intercasino, no less liking of them that Trident / Bellerock / Jackpot Factory / Grand Priv, didn't ever try to screw one. Time was, neither did these Microgamings. This has now changed. And, into this bonus-orientated melting pot, we can now add the disgusting marketing tactics of Jackpot Factory. Now mix in the ever more apparent fact that eCOGRA will basically find for the casino by default (evidence of Cassava and Bellerock).

I don't trust Microgaming anymore. I haven't trusted Cassava for some time. I don't trust their "regulator".

If you trust them, that's the different perspective of a slot-playing affiliate. Other people will make up their own minds, from their own perspectives.
 

Vesuvio

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mitch said:
I have always been paid by every casino I have ever played at. Never been messed about even, apart from some casinos seeking ID before payment.
Touch wood, Mitch - I could say that until Bellerock a couple of weeks ago...
 
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