it's over. And with its demise, we are given this
opportunity to look back over the past twelve months and
ponder over this turbulent and often strange industry.
There were a few highlights this year: record million
dollar plus wins for at least two Major Millions
players, major land-based casinos yanked their online
counterparts off the web because of befuddled US
legislators, and it's also been the year when the credit
card giants lowered the boom on Internet gambling.
But let's get to the nitty gritty. Casinomeister is in
the trenches; locked and loaded, bayonets fixed. It's
time to divvy out "the awards that matter": the coveted
"Best Casino" to the "Worst Casino Group", the "Biggest
Disappointment" (two of them) to the "The Stupidest
Player Scam". So sit back, relax, grab yourself a hot
cup o' java, and read on...
Black Widow Casino, for their frank statements that indicate
that they condone false advertising and adhere to unwritten rules of
screwing their customers.
Lest we forget, they were once a "Casinomeister
Casino" about a year and a half ago. About the time they switched
from an RTG powered platform to Playtech, they botched a promo. The
problem was that there were a number of players who were promised
certain things by the casino staff. The casino reneged on their word
and became unresponsive to any third parties trying to understand
the problem or assist players. To make a long story short, they were
rogued after an excrutiating lack of communication on their part.
But then, I ran into Brian Woods (one of the Black Widow operators)
at the GIGSE last June. In a very surreal surrounding he thanked me
for "roguing" his casino stating that the notoriety has brought him
some decent traffic. When I questioned him on the statment posted on
the casino website boasting of the quickest payouts, he laughed
stating that this was only ad copy, that it didn't apply to players
that returned to the casino using bonuses. They routinely delayed
these payments to discourage these players to come back. You can
read the full report
here. He also wanted me to give his casino some more bad press,
since in his words there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Well here it is, the coveted "Worst Casino of 2003". Congrats Black
Casinos win this infamous award "hands down", or should it be
"place your hands where we can see them." Busted! This group of
casinos give lawmakers in the States more ammunition to shoot down
online gaming for their constituents.
Lead by the flagship
Goldbetting Casino, and the omnipresent manager "Robert Hamilton",
these casinos were rogued last summer after they ignored a number of
my emails explaining several players were owed $$ from Goldbetting,
Ladydream, and Lucky Dog Sports. Ignoring emails from players is one
thing, but to ignore emails from interested third parties leaves
room for suspicion that something dodgy is going on. The "manager"
Robert Hamilton finally got back to me and denied that mine were
being ignored. He suggested that the emails sent to me were getting
lost somewhere on my computer. A less than convincing
Anyway, the lines of communication seemed to have been opened, and I
sent a number of complaints his way. Giving credit where credit is
due, he took care of most of these complaints. Some of these players
were owed four figure amounts, but something wasn't quite right.
You see, I didn't like the fact that the software provider (Wager21)
was using images and game names from International Game Technology (IGT.com).
I questioned him about this, questioning if it bothered him or if
his software provider had any contract with IGT. He stated that
there was some agreement (he was unsure exactly what this was)
between IGT and Wager21. Again, not a convincing answer. Trademark
theft is a very serious offence, and casinos that practice these
unorthodox manner of creating their games jeopordize their business
(read - players' deposits) by doing so.
But besides this, I was concerned that there was something more
devious about this whole scenario. The email IP addresses that were
used by two different managers, the cashier, their ecash provider,
and Wager21, were traced back to the same IP address, the same
computer. Sometimes emails from these entities could be traced back
to a laptop in Florida.
Anyway, when I was in Vegas during the G2E in September 2003, I
briefly spoke with the VP of marketing of IGT. He was aware of
Wager21 using their game names and logos unlawfully, and stated that
paperwork was in the making. Since then, many of these games have
had face lifts and name changes. I wonder why.
Some people may figure, "Well, these guys are good now since they
aren't ripping off IGT anymore." Lest we forget, business ethics
don't change with smoke and mirrors. They only corrected their
wrong-doings because they got caught. If players had not know about
Casinomeister, they would have never been paid. I wonder how many
more are out there...
Congrats Wager21, now you have something to be really proud of.
Not an award to be taken lightly, a casino's theme
can separate it from the regular "run of the mill". In these days of
Vegas clones, uniqueness is what we are looking for. Cool blues and
mellow greens bring you into the oceanic world of King Neptune;
Reminiscent of the Atlantis Hotel aquarium on Paradise Island in the
Bahamas. Magnificent aquatic designs bring this smart package of
games together in a presentation that is soothing and a broad leap
from the typical Vegas themed casinos.
Powered by Microgaming's Viper, and run by the veteran casino
operator Micki, King Neptune sets itself apart with this catchy
motif. And besides its theme, this casino has a formidable
reputation for ace customer service, integrity and fast payouts and
Micki is one of the most respected casino managers in the business.
Hat's off to Micki, King Neptune's and the Trident Group.
Connecttocasino? What is that? Does it mean
"connect to a casino" or is it Cro-magnon man-speak "Connect to
casino" ugh. It rolls off the tongue like a rusty nail, and leaves
an image of vague nothingness. Brilliant. And when I think of Fortypluscasino.com, I am totally turned
off by an image of some casino bouncer checking peoples' ID making
sure they're over Forty. Somebody was doing serious bong hits in
Costa Rica when they came up with this one. Even I can't figure it
out. Too bad they went "poof" data base and all.
by the personable Tim Whyles, who is no stranger to any Webmaster
who attends online casino conferences and exhibitions, this
affiliate program was launched in August 2002 and over the past year
it has grown tremendously. Tim's untiring effort and the dedication
of his staff truly shows. This is an affiliate program that really
works. From its initial bare bones launch to its present state, this
program proves to be a highly respected and "webmaster" friendly.
Wagershare ensures that there is enough information and creatives
available so webmasters can get the job done. Besides creatives,
webmasters need a good flow of information and their weekly
newsletter is just the ticket; it's not only entertaining but highly
informative as well. Kudos for Tim and his gang. Their efforts are
Most tournaments on the
web require players to play with their own cash, which in most cases
doesn't do anyone any favors but the casino. But at Intercasino,
sign up fees are anywhere from $5-$20 and players are given up to
$1000 play money to use in the tournament. This is an excellent way
for newbies to play some games, risk free (the only thing they risk
is their sign-up fee, which is already gone) and have the chance to
win real cash.
Partnerlogic, Intercasino's affiliate program, has made these
available for webmasters to promote to their members, which gives
webmasters the chance to set up some in-house competition. Kudos for
Intercasino and for the staff at Partnerlogic who have made these
"The furore started when after much anticipation Chris Hughes of
Truegambler released the results of his Online Casino Analyser
research but drew no conclusions for fear of litigation, leaving
others to interpret the issue in diverse ways and resulting in
confusing posts in gambling message boards and the need for a number
of iterations and clarifying addendums.
The concept of Truegambler's Online Casino Analyser software was
widely applauded and welcomed as an industry safeguard with enormous
potential when it was announced some time ago, and it is fair to say
that it still has positive prospects in the future.
The software facilitates the recording of play of registered players
on a dedicated server, where a number of mathematical tests are used
to analyse the likelihood of the recorded results occurring by
comparing them to 'expected' outcomes. In this manner very large
numbers of hands of play can be tested, the intention being to give
a more accurate picture over time.
The current tests are the result of several millions of hands of
play by some 200 registered players at a wide range of casinos using
gambling suites from the providers being tested, which on this
occasion was blackjack from Odds On, Random Logic, Microgaming and
Real Time Gaming.
Unfortunately, the manner in which the results were presented was
inconclusive and, as it now appears, incomplete. Considering the
gravity of the issue and the significant potential for harm to both
trust and businesses, this is surprising as we would have expected
this research to be able to withstand the scrutiny of a court of law
if necessary. My comments from
5 September's Newsletter:
The long awaited OCA Black Jack report from
is finally here. This is a report that concerns the play action of
Blackjack via the software providers Microgaming, Oddson, Random
Logic and RTG. The report is a painstaking collection of data which
represents over 3 million recorded hands from 200 players of online
casinos. The Blackjack play was analyzed by the Online Casino
Analyzer (OCA), a program that compares the actual play to the
expected outcome of what the "dealer" deals out. Most of us had been
anticipating the release of this report for some time now, actually
since May. Unfortunately, this report is having damaging
But damaging to whom? Unfortunately, it's damaging everyone
involved. The crux of the matter is that TrueGambler reported that
the likelihood of a Microgaming dealer receiving the number of
17-21/BJ hands is very low, actually rounding this out to zero. Also
the number of "pushed" hands was higher than expected, and the
dealer lost less hands than would be expected. In other words,
according to these results and in layman's terms Microgaming is
using cheating software.
When the news hit the message boards and gambling related forums,
there was an outcry from players. I'm not going to attempt to rehash
what has been said in the forums concerning this because it is
getting picked to death. Players are screaming "rip-off!" "We've
been screwed!", "I knew it all along." etc. And a lot of the portal
webmasters are arguing on how the data was analyzed and collected.
Everyone seems to be a bit confused. Why? Because of the way the
information has been presented. When it comes to presenting
information that has the potentiality to bring a multi-million
dollar industry to it's knees, you don't show up in an 84 VW Golf
wearing jeans and a T-shirt handcarrying a manila folder with data
and no explanation.
Truegambler chose to offer their information as more or less raw
data; they intentionally did this so that players could come to
their own conclusions. This is understandable since unhappy software
providers could bring in a truckload of lawyers from hell. And who
wants to get sued? But the data in this form is unfathomable to most
players. Unless you are a math-head, your eyes will glaze over if
anyone attempts to explain these findings.
But once they are explained, there are more questions at hand. Where
is the methodology? What do we know about how this information was
collected? This is not explained. Why is the software still in its
Beta version? This gives the impression that the developers aren't
yet convinced that the program is running at a full fledged 100%.
Why does the Truegambler website still have Microgaming banners
flapping in the breeze? If Truegambler believes that the results of
this report indicate that Microgaming's software is cheating
players, why haven't they taken five minutes to replace these
What about casinos like Ladbrokes? As most of you are aware, this is
a brick and mortar casino owned by the Hilton group that has an
extremely high profile, especially in the UK. I would only assume
that this casino watches their play outcome very carefully. To do
otherwise would be unimaginable.
These aren't only my questions, these are the questions that are
being tossed around by nearly everyone who has read this report.
In my opinion, for whatever this is worth, it seems that this was
intended as a "forum offering"; something for everyone to fight over
and pick apart in the forums. I know that Truegambler was under
pressure to release the findings, and perhaps they thought they were
doing the players a favor by warning them of possible dirty deeds by
Microgaming, but in doing so, I think they left themselves too much
out in the open for scrutiny.
And don't get me wrong. I'm not pooh-poohing the report or the data
that they collected. But to be presented in this manner causes me to
question the seriousness of it. Casinomeister is THE online casino
watchdog. I'm here to protect the players by giving them
information. I'm also here to assist casino operators, portal
operators, and anyone else who has a stake in this industry. Am I
expected to blacklist a software provider for what this report
indicates? Tell me, what am I supposed to do?
And what gets me, is that this causes a player vs. portal owner
thing to resurface. Players should be aware that most portal owners
want nothing more than honest casinos that offer fair games. To
insinuate that all portal operators think otherwise is a knee-jerk
response in itself.
I honestly hope that if any more reports are to come out of
Truegambler, they will reflect "lessons learned". This was truly the
biggest disappointment of 2003.
Well, at first they did nothing which was a big BIG
disappointment. Software providers MUST realize that they are
obliged to protect players against fraudulent or mismanaged
activities on the casino's part. Before this casino went down the
tubes, Oddson was considered one of the top five software providers
since their casinos had very good reputations. But apparently Oddson
were resting on their laurels while Fortyplus launched themselves in
a half-assed manner.
Last summer, the casino manager was very "public" with his postings
on numerous message boards, doing his best to market his casino.
This seemed a bit odd to me, and I am very cautious when I see this.
Most people in the industry know that only about 7-10% of online
gamblers spend any time in message boards, and when I see a manager
investing this much effort recruiting players in this manner, I
think that either a) he is familiar with the boards as a player, or
b) lacks focus on marketing thus hard times may be ahead. It
wouldn't have taken much time on Oddson's part to hire an intern to
spend an hour a day monitoring the boards. They would have seen this
waving red flag right away.
Oddson should have never allowed this casino to be "licensed" in
Costa Rica. There are no "gambling" licenses offered from this
jurisdiction. There is no safety net for players. Casinos that
aren't willing to spend the cash on a license from a jurisdiction
that offers gambling licenses are accidents just waiting to happen.
And in essence, Fortyplus casino was an accident waiting to happen,
and of all entities it should have been the software provider to
detect this first, not me or some webmaster, or Joe Blow the player.
Alas, this would be reality in a perfect world, and a perfect world
we have not. But we can act when called to act upon misfortune. It's
called "taking the bull by the horns."
And misfortune should be in every software provider's contingency
plan. What to do if a casino screws up.I'm sure the staff
and CEO of Oddson can tell you what not to do, since they
have learned a lesson form the school of "hard knocks". I hope this
never happens again.
Alley is the winner of this esteemed award. Fact is stranger
than fiction when applied to this scam operation. I couldn't make
this stuff up.
So what is the scam? Well in October 2003, a player
made a posting in our forum
here wondering whether or not anyone had heard of this casino;
it seems that not many had heard of them...and there were a few
peculiarities that were noticed.
1. They had an exuberant amount of cash available for their
"progressives" topping some of the progressives offered by
Intercasino, one of the largest online casinos on the web.
2. Their software was some "mystery software".
3. They had unlimited 300% bonuses.
4. They were certified by the enigmatic "Fair Gaming Labs"
5. The "certifications" on the website mimicked those from
Pricewaterhouse Coopers in font and wording.
6. Reports from players concerning glitchy software.
My questions were immediately responded to by "Natalie" who at first
made comments how she liked my picture at Casinomeister, and that
she enjoyed my presentation at last years Casino Affiliate
Convention to which she attended. She answered the questions stating
that a) the casino was related to a land based casino which she
couldn't divulge, thus they were able to offer progressives like
they did. b) the software was developed in-house c) the 300% bonus
was no problem since they had a long list of bonus abusers and they
were locked out already. d) the fair Gaming Labs was being dropped
from their site since they didn't seem to offer them anything. e)
she claimed no software is perfect, and those players that had
problems have been compensated.
I accepted these answers, posted them, but I was keeping the casino
under close scrutiny. A couple of weeks later, I went to Barcelona,
Spain for the European Internet Gaming conference. And I was having
lunch with a good friend of mine, we'll call him Jimmy for now. Out
of the blue he asked me if I knew anything about this casino Slots
Alley. So I told him my story and about what I knew about this
casino that "seemed" to be okay, but something wasn't quite right.
He then explained things to me: The casino in question is run by two
guys. One guy is a former employee of a major Internet company that
most of us have heard of, and apparently much of the scripting that
is used at the casino site was ripped off by this "former employee".
We'll call him Nati. It turns out Nati and his brother-in-law went
into business together and started up this online casino. As this
was explained to me, everything clicked together and finally made
sense. In fact, remember that my main point of contact at the casino
was "Natalie" and here we were talking about some dude named "Nati".
I wanted to confirm this with the CEO of the company that was ripped
off. He confirmed my suspicions via email, and I went to press. I
was then contacted by the operator of Slots Alley who said that I
had insulted "Natalie" with my webcast of
9 December 2003 since I accused "her" of being a "he", and that
she would no longer entertain my questions. He then went on to state
that "Natalie" was not her name, and that in fact it was a guy, but
not necessarily "Nati". So in essence this operator decided that it
was a game of words, and he never seriously answered any of my
questions; he never identified the land based casino, nor responded
to the allegations of this major Internet firm.
In a nutshell, it's a scam...and the biggest scam of 2003..
I immediately contacted the webmaster (the Professor at
casinoaffiliateprograms.com and told him that this ethically
challenged casino group was "spilling the beans" so to speak. It
turns out that the Professor gave this casino group a trial run and
dropped them after realizing that their primitive software would be
a marketing embarrassment to anyone in this industry. At this point
1cnp started copying me on to their emails and were trying to coerce
the Professor to pay them. I went to press with this on
6 November 20033 and guess what happened the next day? Spam
About a kagillion email messages were sent out to every email
address imaginable with the following message:
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 2003
From: Casino Meister >,firstname.lastname@example.org<,
Subject: visit www.casinomeister.com
To: spam victim
Reply-To: Editor >,email@example.com<,
Visit our new website http://www.casinomeister.com
We recently added 6 new casinos to our website
Try our newest site dessert dollar go to http://www.casinomeister.com
and find out more
about our sweet promotions
Visit our site today http://www.casinomeister.com
Your luck bringer - Bryan Bailey
Since it was an obvious "Joe Job" and that they even included
Spamcop as a recipient, this attack proved amateurish and it's
obvious that 1cnp was behind it. There are a number of individuals
and agencies who are monitoring them very closely just waiting for a
repeat effort like this one. There are several other people who have
been targets of these sort of malicious tactics as well. And my
sources tell me that the owner, who resides in Vancouver, is on the
verge of getting slapped by a lawsuit that will nail him to a side
of a barn. IP addresses don't lie.
the line of Xtran Model Series 5200, he tirelessly monitors
cyberland for trouble. Not only does he focus on potential casino
scams, but watches for new computer viruses and other critical
issues. He joins me regularly on my/our webcast, and if you
subscribe to Casinomeister's
Newsletter, you'll be placed on the "warning" list. Congrats
Vortran! Job well done!
He was busted. Gambling Federation took down his sites (there were
two of them) within hours, which made this guy quite angry. He
decided to vent his anger by posting
this. And he changed his
information to reflect his frustration. What a baby. Too bad he
forgot to change the
whois information on Casinocashland.com
For a final touch, he began to send babbling emails threatening me
with lawsuits. His "lawyer" by the way, had one of the FREE email
addresses given to college students.
For a crook, he's not so bright. The entire hilarious episode can be
read here in our
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