Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nordicbet Still Seems Alright

There is a slow-motion train wreck going on regarding Casinomeister, Betfred, and Lottomatica/Spielo G2. Basically, one of the games provided by Spielo G2 at Betfred was found to be "gaffed." This term is being used to mean rigged, but those involved have to be careful about which words they use because of possible legal exposure.

We have a long work-up and analysis of this situation in the works, but until then, I think it necessary to address that one of our chosen casinos, Nordicbet, were also entangled in the hullabaloo.

Nordicbet was running the games in question, and after analysis, determined that at least one of the games was indeed performing "incorrectly." They summarily pulled all of Spielo G2's games and refunded players.

This was actually news to me, because I wasn't even aware that Nordicbet were running these games. I was under the impression that they were an entirely Net Entertainment house.

Regardless, I have doubts about how they could not have known that one of their games was "gaffed," but it is possible. Nordicbet generated some significant good will when they were the first casino to admit fault, pull the games, and refund players.

We will be keeping our eyes on Nordicbet for the near future. I hope nothing else happens, because they have hitherto been a rather clean house.

Well, It's In The T&Cs

One of the primary purposes of terms & conditions, more generally known as terms of service, at least from the casino's perspective, is to provide an air of authority to their declarations and actions. As long as what they do is explicated in the T&Cs, they can point to them as a form of justification, even if the actions are, in the world of common sense and logic, stupid and/or unjust.

The problems with this situation are manifold, and many of them do not apply solely to the online casino industry. For example, the world of software is undergoing something of a seismic shift compliments of file-sharing and a pathological desire of companies to learn everything ever about you (see Facebook). As software has become an ever-increasing element in our day-to-day life, how that software relates to us legally becomes more important.

Obviously, legal documents delineating these relations are going to become larger, more significant things for everyone involved. For an example of this, look at the recent blow-up involving the terms of service for Instagram, which also showed why companies love having terms that are hard to parse.

It must be remembered, this is still new legal territory for us. For all of our futuristic designs and Apple products, the level of software integration in our lives that has come to define modern consumer existence is a creation of the past decade. Go back to the 1990's and these considerations simply didn't exist.

For example, how are the companies going to deliver the terms to people and ensure those terms are read and understood? Without going too far into this particular element of the problem, the answer has traditionally been click-through terms of service. This means exactly what it sounds like, a person simply clicks "yes" as they go through the process of signing up. This is less than ideal and it is a problem for every software service on the planet.

The problems that are unique to the online casino industry include what I refer to as drive-through terms of service, or assumed terms of service. In this scenario, you don't even have to explicitly agree to the terms. It is assumed that you agree by the simple act of using the product, and that it is your responsibility to read and understand the terms. I don't think I even need to explain how absurd this is.

Look at how other important legal transactions take place. Look at the process of purchasing a car: a person must sign their name to multiple documents while the salesperson explains things in plain English. When a salesperson intentionally lies in plain English to obscure the truth of the legal terminology, they become both a social pariah and invite lawsuits. We see similar scenarios for houses, major household appliances, and bank accounts.

Indeed, drive-through T&Cs seem built specifically to hide the terms. Unlike cars and banks, you can't even really "sign" these documents. You agree to them simply by using the products. And how do you know that you have to read and agree to these terms? By reading the terms. How helpful.

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One of the primary principles of legal philosophy is that law is only righteous if the laws are promulgated. There can be no secret laws. There are many considerations in the real world, but few of these apply to online services. Promulgating the law is easy: send an e-mail; make a post; include a prominent link. Hell, even a superscript would suffice. Do online casinos do this? No.

For comparison's sake, let us look at some other services that I use extensively. I use Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, and Ebay. At some point in recent history, they have all changed their terms & conditions. Guess what happened? I received e-mail announcements! In some cases, I received dozens of notifications positively begging me to go and read the updated documents. Google even made a goddamn video!



Again, to be fair, even these documents are problematic. There is no functional reason for having fifty-page legal documents — like the terms for Apple's App Store. In fact, changing them is possible. But that is neither here nor there.

How many times have I received similar e-mails and announcements from online casinos? Zero. Not once. I haven't played at an insignificant number of casinos, either. How often am I told to read the T&Cs before playing? About fifty percent of the time, give or take. How many times are the wild and absurd "bonuses" on home pages presented with an asterisk, indicating that this offer isn't as good as it seems? Never. Not once have I ever encountered a casino that makes any significant effort to communicate its actual terms to its user base.

And that's how the casinos want it. They want the terms to be phantoms that exist only when the casino has a problem. Unlike laws, the T&Cs do not exist to protect you. There is no second side to the coin. It is a tool for the casino, a unilateral contract, and nothing more.

As such, violations are an issue when you are winning. If you are losing, it doesn't matter at all if you are violating their terms. You are losing. The casino is completely happy to cater to you using a bot, hacking the games, playing with multiple accounts, or any of the other ridiculous restrictions common to T&Cs just so long as whatever it is you are doing is earning them money. The femtosecond that you win anything, down comes the hammer.

This is why so many casinos have long wait periods before you actually get your money. They are primarily hoping that you will turn around and gamble your remaining money, but their secondary hope is that they will be able to conjure up some violation to justify their use of "the hammer." Ensuring that the T&Cs are loaded with catch-all terms is the most important part, but the second part is making it so that players are unaware of what specifics are in those T&Cs. The casinos want you ignorant and under their thumb. There is nothing about that arrangement that passes the jurisprudence smell test.

The terms exist soley to provide an excuse for a player's winnings to be voided. And casinos will admit this! They will openly admit that the only time when a player's account is elevated to personal analysis is when the player is trying to withdraw money. I would imagine that many a time has come where a player has been detected using some modified version of a game to send in strings of data to the servers in an attempt to exploit some issue with number handling, and been let off the proverbial hook because the player's experimentation is losing money. But if you win...

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Head on over to Casinomeister's complaints forum, or even better, the Beating Bonuses forums. Read the stories. Time and time again, the stories all start off the same way: a player was doing their thing — no warnings, no nothing — then when they go to leave, they are stopped at the door.

"Sorry!" the casino says. "We think you were doing something that we arbitrarily do not like! Thus, you have not won anything. Have a nice day!"

To be sure, physical casinos of today are not exempt from this, with accusations of card-counting being levied against those who do well in blackjack. This happens more than casinos are willing to admit. But this is besides the point.

The casino will point to its T&Cs as a way to justify its actions. If they think you were using a bot, they will point to their "no bots" rule in their T&Cs. Likewise if they accuse you of using a betting "pattern" or "strategy." Let's, for a moment, ignore that neither bots nor patterns can help you. Let's assume that they can, in fact, help you win. My criticism remains exactly the same.

With my powerful voodoo, I'm sure to win at craps!
Because even if bots and patterns gave the player an advantage, there is no way to prove that a player is using magical voodoo "patterns," or "bots." And critically, there is no way to prove that they are not using them, either. As such, with evidence an impossibility, the tools become things that can be applied wantonly.

For you, the poor player, unless you are fully and deeply experienced in online gambling, you won't be aware of these wild tools at the disposal of casinos to screw you over. You won't know that T&Cs are an infinite get-out-of-jail-free card, to be used whenever the casino feels like it.

Now that we have assumed that bots and patterns work, let's return to reality for a moment and address that neither, in fact, work. Indeed, any casinos should be happy that a player is using a bot, because it means that they are burning through money more quickly. Similarly, they should be happy that a player is confidently using a pattern, since it will just cause them to lose more money as they attempt to make their pattern "work."

Instead, casinos persist in fighting this. I am sure that for some of them, they honestly believe that bots and patterns are magical things that "break" the mathematics of the games. It seems amazing that there are casino operators out there who don't know squat about the actual functioning of their product, but it is true. For many more, though, it is pure malice and greed. With the ability to void winnings, they are given a powerful tool to avoid payouts.

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At the root of this systemic problem is, as the title suggests, the belief in the inherent righteousness of terms & conditions. It doesn't matter what a casino does just so long as they let you know first.

The shills at Casinomeister will trot out this excuse whenever anyone addresses the ridiculous injustice of it. Always relying on the supposed legal rectitude of the terms, as though any clause, no matter what it says, is righteous simply by virtue of existing. No. Just because a store says on a sign they will punch you if you enter does not make their punching you acceptable. "Just go to another store," the shills will say.

First, that is the very same dodge that apologists of injustice have used since the beginning of civilization. Moreover, even if accepted, the argument doesn't work when nearly every store has the same sign out front. It is an issue that needs addressing.

I have used the term "shill" to describe people on Casinomeister, and many other online casino websites. That's only half of the story. There are actually two types of people supporting the continued injustice of online casino T&Cs: those who feel like they are in the know for knowing about the colossal clusterfuck that is T&Cs; and those who are paid-for shills that are on the message boards specifically to argue against the aggrieved players. I don't know for sure who's who in this gallery of freaks, but I feel highly confident in saying that Casinomeister is a paid-for shill, as are his minions, MaxD and the inimitable thug that is Nifty29.

There is no reasonable argument against what I am saying. And this is why vast swaths of Casinomeister's member base have been banned at some point. Because eventually, they get tired of being screwed over by the casinos and voice this opinion. Casinomeister is unable to shut them up, so he just bans them instead (devil's advocate: Casinomeister also has its fair share of loonies on the site).

Just because something is in the T&Cs doesn't mean that it is right. In fact, I am slowly reaching the point where I think that if something is in the T&Cs, it's probably wrong. These casinos are using pseudo-legal terms to frighten and bully people into not making any noise.

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We are thus left in a void. How do we determine whether a particular term holds any water? Bring the matter to court? Ha! Unlikely. Terms & conditions are legitimate legal documents only if they are accepted in a court of law, and online casinos make damn sure that it is difficult-to-impossible to ever get a day in court.

Even if you do, you will find yourself in a jurisdiction that is conspicuously friendly to online casinos... which is why all of the online casinos are "based" in these jurisdictions. And by based, I mean that the servers are there. The actual people behind the casino usually live and work elsewhere. The server location is nothing more than a jurisdictional dodge. Major casinos are evacuating their "remote gaming" operations out of the United Kingdom and into friendlier jurisdictions where they are less likely to face court cases.

Look at Betfair (moved to Gibraltar after a court case), look at Eurobet (moved to Gibraltar after a court case). To be fair, Gibraltar is also famous as a tax haven, and since most casino operators are stunning scumbags, they hate taxes more than anything. As such, Gibraltar has been the home of many online casinos for years. That's not really a point in favor of Gibraltar, though, since the most famous online casinos there — such as 888 — are also famous for being less than upstanding operations. Moreover, this still doesn't explain why many companies only moved their operations after facing large court cases in their home countries.

What happens if a person actually does manage to get their issue into a court? Well, it has happened so rarely that we don't have much to go on, but it did happen recently in a non-shithole country (the United Kingdom) earlier this year. This is the only case that I can find that wasn't muddied in some other legal way. This was a clash between the player and the T&Cs, and nothing more. (I have tried my damndest to find a link to this case, but have thus far failed. I simply have to go on my memory. If you know of the case, please post a comment.)

A father had left a game up and running on his computer when his young son played the game. He requested his lost money to be returned, which was of course denied, because as we have pointed out, T&Cs only exist to take money away. In response to this, the father sued. The casino lost the case after a judge decided that the T&Cs were unreasonable.

And what of T&Cs themselves? Where do they stand? We have a great example of that in a recent court case in Nevada, where a judge ruled that if a user isn't forced to click an explicit "I Agree" statement while signing up, which many casinos are failing to do, the terms are 100% invalid.

We have another court case specifically dealing with particular elements of the terms of service for the software Second Life, where the judge ruled against Second Life's creator, Linden Labs. The judge ruled that certain elements of the terms of service were "both procedurally and substantively unconscionable and is itself evidence of defendants' scheme to deprive Plaintiff (and others) of both their money and their day in court."

Holy crap on a crap cracker, does that sound much like online casinos? Don't think about that too hard.

Again, this is why casinos are increasingly flying "flags of convenience." They need them because legally-developed, upstanding countries will make life very difficult for the scumbags running the casinos. This is also why, as consumers of online gambling entertainment devoid of real government regulation, we need to make as much noise as possible.

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We need to beat down the doors of forums like Beating Bonuses and Casinomeister. We need to make our complaints known. We need to assault the online casinos with every tool that we have. We need to fight against the ridiculous injustice of terms & conditions. Because playing games is fun! One of the things about it that is fun is the possibility that, at any moment, I could win a lot of money. If the T&Cs are such that the elation of a win could be unjustly stripped from me by a greedy casino, with no possibility of appeal, than we either fight or stop playing.

And I don't know about you, but I don't want to stop playing. So I choose to fight. Down with the T&Cs.

A Wart's Opinion - Casino Police Still "On the Pad" - Conclusion

Although the title of this post limits its scope to the recent 3-part series Casino Police Still "On the Pad", the post's content goes back much further than that.  Indeed, this post makes significant reference to, and use of, the very first post that I made in this blog, titled Ripples in the Water, and published on Jun 30 2012.

My "Ripples" post made a number of points, several of which are relevant here.  I'm going to expand, at some length, on a few of them.


1.  An Overview of the Online Casino Infrastructure.

Online casinos gave birth to online casino affiliates.  Online casino affiliates are basically web sites that do two things.

Thing 1 - They do what is necessary to appear in the search lists of search engines (Google, Yahoo, what have you).  Some of these "what is necessary" techniques have been labeled organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  In addition to SEO techniques, they also pay money to the search engines so that their web site will appear at the top of your search results if your search request includes specific words, like "online casino", or "slots", or "blackjack" (Paid Search Engine Marketing).  In addition to search lists, affiliates also advertise through email - aka Spam.  (In this case, "what is necessary" includes "whatever it takes".)

Thing 2 - Once you browse to a casino affiliate's web site, they have lots of advertisements (usually bright shiny pictures) for different online casinos, with some words telling you how great each of these casinos are.  They also have a link to the web site for each of these casinos.  When you click one of these links, you are directed to that particular casino.  MOST IMPORTANT - when you are directed to that casino you carry with you a tag (a cookie, a query string) that tells the casino which affiliate you came from.

Casino affiliates make money because of that tag.  If you enter an online casino through an affiliate web site and join that casino, you are forever linked at that casino to that affiliate because of that tag.  A common arrangement - the casino would then pay your linked affiliate some percentage (20%, 40%, even more) of your monthly losses.  So, the more traffic that links to, and joins, and loses money at, a casino, the more money the affiliate makes.

Over the years, market competition, and marketing competence, gave rise to top runners in the affiliate arena.  A few of these grew so large (the "Snowball Effect") as to carry the label Super Affiliate.  Because of their appearance at the top of search lists, they enjoyed a constant influx of new viewers.  Many affiliates, especially the Super Affiliates, provided forums which required that people enroll.  Forum members could make/read threads and posts, and thus a social network grew.  People who joined earlier stayed, new members joined, the affiliate web sites grew, the Super Affiliate web sites grew faster ("Nothing Breeds Success Like Success").

Affiliates started with a Top 10 List, or a Recommended Casinos List, or things like that.  Super Affiliates could afford to sell positions in their Top 10 List for considerable amounts of money both because of the new traffic coming into their web site, as well as because the older forum members continued to return to engage in the forum's social network.  (Again, once you are tagged to an affiliate, you are tagged for life.)

However, that forum activity started a process of setting some Minimum Standards of Performance for a Top 10 List.  Problem casinos (no/slow payments, denied winnings, functional issues, what have you) would start generating some rumblings in the forum.  Some of these rumblings started to get heated.  The Super Affiliates could afford to remove from their Top 10 List casinos that were generating a lot of forum heat because there were so many other casinos waiting in the wings.

So, a Top 10 List started to change into an Approved List.  Casinos that were removed from the Approved List had to go somewhere.  This need gave rise to the Black List, or the Not Recommended List, or the Rogue List, etc.

Casinos in the Approved List made a lot of money (because they saw a lot of traffic).  There was strong motivation to be in, and stay in, that list.  Casinos in the Black List not only didn't make a lot of money, they might have even gone out of business.  There was strong motivation to NOT be in that list.

So, Super Affiliates attracted a significant percentage of new players through their search engine work.  They retained player attention through the social network provided in their forums.  They exerted significant influence on casinos through their Approved List and Black List.  Because of this influence, a few of these Super Affiliates began to provide what could be called Player Assistance Services.  That is, they would act as a mediator, or a neutral third party, between the Player and the casino in the event of a Player problem.


2.  An Overview of the Online Casino Justice System

In the "Golden Years" of the online casino industry (2000 through 2006) the Super Affiliates were making a lot of money, a whole LOT of money.  In their role as mediator, they could afford, to a considerable extent anyway, to truly be a neutral third party.  That is, even though the casinos with whom they were negotiating on behalf of the Players actually represented some part (even a significant part) of their income, if the amount of forum heat regarding a specific issue with the casinos was large (and the data supported it), they could/would decide in favor of the Players.

In addition to the affected casino having to "pay up", this decision sometimes resulted in their removal from the Super Affiliate's Approved List (and perhaps their subsequent addition to their Black List).

Casinos, being no fools, were well aware of the impact of this result on their business.  They were therefore more inclined (strongly motivated) to acquiesce in the face of the "forum heat", and to agree to a decision in favor of the Player.

The Super Affiliates, also being no fools, were well aware that the "forum heat" could as easily be turned against them if it became apparent that their mediation efforts/results were not truly neutral.  That is, the Super Affiliates had to present at least the appearance that their decisions were not affected by the fact of the casino's affiliate payments.

So, with the Super Affiliates making enough money that they could afford a reasonable level of integrity in acting as a mediator in Player/casino conflicts, things weren't so bad.  (Of course, Players would need to be aware of the existence of this mediation service in order to take advantage of it.)

The reality of many of these Player/casino conflicts is that the casino was more likely than the Player to be the "offending party" in these conflicts.  The reason for this is simple - the casino had money on the line, their competition (especially at this time) was fierce, the issues were usually about no payment or denied winnings, and the casino held all of the cards.  The Player won $10,000, the casino did not want to, or could not afford to, pay them, so the casino created some piece of "reasoning" and simply denied the Player their money.

Without the support of these Super Affiliate mediators, the Player usually had no other recourse.  (There were a handful of "Regulatory Authorities", but all of these were run by a guy named Fred who spent most of his time drinking spiced rum in a bar in NW Jamaica.)  It is certain that some (many?  all?) players that were not aware of, and thus did not use, the Super Affiliate mediation services simply got screwed by the casino if they found themselves having a problem.

It is also certain, because it has been documented, that the Super Affiliates were no angels.  Sometimes, "the fix was in", and there was no hope for true justice for the Player through the mediation process.

Side Note **********

I have, unfortunately, been involved in a few court cases in my life.  I've sat in the courtroom and watched as those cases that were called before mine played out in front of me.  I came up with an expression that captures my own personal experience, as well as the experience gained in watching other court case decisions play out.

"If you are as pure as the driven snow, and your courtroom opponent is as black as the devil's asshole, then you stand a chance of winning.  Otherwise, it's a crap shoot."

And this arose from my experience with cases decided in a formal court of law, with the assistance of an attorney to whom I paid a great deal of money!

So yes, this Super Affiliate mediation service may not have provided perfect justice, but neither does any bureaucratic and/or government-sanctioned legal system.

End Side Note **********

So, all things considered, this Super Affiliate mediation service, with their Approved List and Black List, and forum heat, and so forth, didn't do a bad job at keeping some semblance of order in the world of online casinos.  In essence, and given the lack of any real alternative, the Super Affiliate mediation services became the Online Casino Police.

- Casinomeister with their "Pitch a Bitch" service = Rogue Pit

- Gambling City with their Gambling Grumbles service = Black List & "Hall of Shame"
_____________________________________________________________________________________

The part of my Ripples in the Water post which had to do with all of the words above was:
These Affiliate Watchdogs could afford to be reasonably honest.  That is, they could afford to have decent operations in their "recommended clients" list.  They could afford to support an aggressive forum audience that would hammer away at any problem operations.  They could afford to remove an operation from their "recommended clients" list if the forum noise about them got too loud.  When that happened, the operation removed from the list would suffer a significant hit to their bet volume and thus their profit.
So, the customers would congregate through the forums.  The forums would drive their parent Watchdog Web Site.  The Watchdog would drive the online operations.  Bad operations would get pushed down to the bottom of the ladder, good operations would rise to the top of the ladder, and the customer was the source for the data that defined good and bad.
All of this was in the first part of what I labeled "Ripple Number One".  (What started as 150 words I have now expanded into 1,500.  That may not take skill, but it takes something.  The ability to really sling it?)
_____________________________________________________________________________________

As mentioned, the Online Casino Justice System described above applied (as described) through 2006.  At the start of 2007, things began to change.


3.  An Overview of the Collapse of the Online Casino Justice System

I've seen data indicating that from 40% to 65% of the total online gambling market in 2006 came from US Players.  There were only 2 minor problems experienced by US Players during and previous to 2006.

1.  The Federal Interstate Wire Act of 1961 (which some thought made internet gambling illegal).  In general, however, this was pretty much ignored by both the Players and the Government.  The Act was made toothless when, in 2002, a US Court ruled that it DID prohibit internet sports betting but DID NOT prohibit internet gambling on a game of chance.  (Interestingly, or perhaps frighteningly, the US Department Of Justice (DOJ) publicly stated that they disagreed with this court decision and would thus ignore it.)

2.  US banks, and the credit cards they issued, had stopped processing online casino transactions as early as 2001.  PayPal, an established e-wallet system, also pulled out of this market around the same time.  However, there were a host of Player payment options still available:  e-wallet systems like Neteller and Moneybookers (now named Skrill) were the most common.

Starting at the end of 2006, and proceeding through early 2007, those US Players started to disappear from the online gambling market.  The reason - The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (aka the UIGEA), signed into law on October 13, 2006.  This law "... prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law ..."

Once passed, almost all of the major casino software suppliers (Boss Media, Cryptologic, Microgaming, Net Entertainment, Playtech, WagerWorks) began to close their doors to US Players.

The founders of Neteller were arrested on Jan 15 2007.  Obviously, Neteller and Moneybookers/Skrill immediately stopped supporting US Customers sending money into online casinos.  Other nasty shit came down, like the arrests of the CEOs of some online gambling corporations at US airports as they were connecting through to non-US destinations.

All of these things combined to make online casino gambling for the US Player a really big problem!  To your "recreational gambler", things began to get a little scary.  "Am I being watched?"

Important Bit.  Almost all of those casinos that pulled out of the US market lost a big chunk of business overnight.  Many simply went out of business.  The "legal market" for online casinos took, what, a 40% hit?  Maybe more?

In addition, because the majority of software providers were no longer allowing Players from the US, you couldn't start up a new casino to tap that market using the products from any of these companies.

Side Note **********

An Interesting Bit.  A Black Market grew up in response to the US Prohibition.  Some casino software providers continued to allow their licensees to accept US Players - Real Time Gaming (RTG), Digital Gaming Solutions (DGS), Betsoft, BLR Technology, Amigotechs, AST Gaming, ThrillX.

(These last 4 - BLR Tech, Amigotechs, AST Gaming, and ThrillX - are, or were, truly crap, the "bathtub gin" of the online casino software industry.  Based on data that has been published across a spectrum of sources, I'll make the simple statement that every one of the games from all four of these providers is/was "rigged" to favor the casino.  They are, or in the case of AST and ThrillX were, just crap.)

Through various (nefarious?) methods and means, money managed to make its way back and forth between these Black Market casinos and their Players.

Why an Interesting Bit?  Because, as always, Prohibition created a Black Market, with all of the nasty shit that usually comes along with Black Market products.  Once again the US Government has clearly indicated that they have no interest whatsoever in social engineering for the betterment of their population.

End Side Note **********

Another Side Note **********

What Wikipedia has titled the "Financial crisis of 2007–2008", during which they describe "declines in consumer wealth estimated in trillions of US dollars", didn't help the online casino market either.  It was commonly thought (by those people who think about these things) that gambling, online or otherwise, was relatively immune to market fluctuations.

But when the US Dow Jones Industrial Average goes from a peak exceeding 14,000 in Oct 2007 to a trough of around 6,600 in March 2009, it is safe to say that some serious shit is going on.  I personally have never read an article quantifying the impact of the Dow reduction on the global gambling market.  However, I don't think you need an advanced degree, or mountains of hard date, to say that A results in B here.

End Side Note **********


So, how do we string all of these bits and pieces together?

- The passage of the UIGEA.

- The DOJ not just rattling its saber but actually using it to inflict some serious wounds.

- The exodus of the vast majority of online casinos from the US market.

- The block by the major software providers on any new casinos that want to service this market.

- The 50% reduction in the global online casino wager volume that came from US Players.

- A "Global Recession" that removed trillions of dollars from the world's wallets/pocketbooks.

I'll remind you that the Online Casino Police may be Super Affiliates, but the bottom line is they are also just like any other casino affiliate. They are profit-driven, as with any business, and they make money off a percentage of the global online casino market.  A significant decline in the global market volume results in a significant hit to their "bottom line" as well.

I'll remind you that their effectiveness as Casino Police arose from the fact that they (to quote from above): "... could afford to remove from their Top 10 List casinos that were generating a lot of forum heat because there were so many other casinos waiting in the wings."  (That is, they wielded enough power through the financial advantages of their Good Guy List, and the financial disadvantages of their Bad Guy List, as to instill fear in the hearts and minds of casino operators.)

I'll also remind you that their effectiveness as Casino Police arose from the fact that they were (to quote from above) "... making enough money that they could afford a reasonable level of integrity in acting as a mediator in Player/casino conflicts ..."  (Police that are proven corrupt in a public court like the internet have a tougher time in keeping their jobs.)

Any business operator knows that a reduction in income first hits their profits.  (When the reduction is severe enough, then the loss begins to dig into the costs of operation.)  So, a 40% reduction in income might represent an 80% reduction in profit.

Also, anyone who manages a household's finances knows that if your household sees a 40% drop in income, the first things to "get the axe" are the vacations, the expensive gifts, the expensive restaurants - in other words, "discretionary spending".

And finally, anyone who has lived with an income of $$$ for several years then suddenly sees that income reduced by 40% knows that you never forget the "quality of life" you had with that $$$ income - call it human nature.  After you have addressed the immediate physical requirements of living under that reduced income, you start to think of some way, any way, of getting that lost income back.  You got used to those vacations, those expensive gifts, those expensive restaurants, and you want them back.


4.  Mister Shit, Meet Mister Bed

As indicated above (in excruciating detail), the entire Online Casino Justice System was based on profit, and on the bet volume of the online casino market.  And for 6 years it did a reasonable job for those Players who were aware of its existence.

The Super Affiliates, through their role as the Online Casino Police, provided a reasonable level of honesty and integrity in the performance of their duties because they could afford to do so.  Online casinos were willing to "toe the line" because their profit depended on their staying on the Super Affiliate's Approved List (and off their Black List).

The incompetence of some of the online casino's management resulted in that casino's exit from the market.  The size, and growth, of the global bet volume supported the release of new casinos, not only to take the place of those that went out of business but also to go into competition with the existing established casinos.

And then ... (wait for it) ...

BOOM!  The US Players are gone, and it doesn't look like they are coming back.

BOOM!  The bet volume drops off a cliff.

BOOM!  The industry's profit drops off the same cliff.

A lot of casinos simply go out of business, and fewer arise to take their place.  Those casinos that remain start to tighten their belt.  BUT, they also start to "shaft the Player" more frequently (typically, find some way to deny a big win) because they can't afford to operate as they did before.

However, the Super Affiliates have taken the same hit to the bottom line as the rest of the industry.  As mentioned above, a drop in profit first impacts discretionary spending.  There now seem to be fewer Police on staff, and what few there are seem to be spending more of their time drinking coffee (with the phone turned off).

The Super Affiliates can no longer afford to respond as aggressively as they did before to heat coming out of their forum (even though that heat has begun to significantly increase because of the new "shaft the Player" casino policies).  They can't afford to react as they once did because quality casinos, or even new casinos, are getting harder to find.

The bar for a casino to get onto the Super Affiliate's Approved List starts dropping lower and lower.  Soon, it is just a chalk line on the pavement.  The bar for a Player to contest a decision by an Approved List casino starts getting higher and higher.  Soon, it is so high as to be out of reach.  (This is important, however - the bar is still visible, it is just out of reach.  Think carrot, stick, string and donkey.)

After awhile, the Super Affiliates are no longer providing an Approved List (because the criteria for getting on the list meets with no ones approval).  They are back to a Top 10 List (or a Top 20 List, or a Top 50 List).  Existence on, and location in, the Top X List is once again up for sale to the highest bidder.  The Casino Police are nothing but mannequins in uniforms.

The fix is in - the Casino Police (or what are left of them) are back "On the Pad".
_____________________________________________________________________________________


The Bottom Line

My post Casino Police "On the Pad"? from Nov 29 2012, concerning a CM PAB from Nov of 2008 (the early years following the Justice System collapse), highlighted a number of points:

1.  Previous justice was NOT actually obtained because the Online Casino Justice System performed any logical analysis, or had any understanding, of the game play issues involved in a dispute.  Previous justice was obtained because of public exposure and public pressure arising from the Super Affiliate's forum.  It was enforced through the use of the Approved List and the Not Approved List.

2.  In actual fact, none of the businesses involved in the industry (casinos and affiliates) had any clue about the underlying details of their business.  They might just as well have been running a local hardware store.  The Players had a great deal more knowledge about these things.

3.  The Online Casino Justice System was finally, and publicly, exposed as just another "old-boy network".  It started to become obvious that this was why the Casinomeister Pitch-A-Bitch (PAB) process was conducted behind closed doors, and with frequent references to "non-disclosed data" and "proprietary information".  What was becoming obvious was that all of this was just "smoke and mirrors".
_____________________________________

My post Casino Police "On the Pad"? Addendum from Dec 19 2012, concerning a CM PAB from Jun of 2008 (again, the early years following the Justice System collapse), provided direct proof of the "old-boy network" in full operation.  Looking back on that post, I am truly amazed at just how smoothly this network operated.  PAB submitted, casino said "no", PAB rejected.
_____________________________________

My post Casino Police Still "On the Pad" - Part 1 concerned a CM PAB from Aug of 2012.  This is 4 years after the CM issues discussed in Casino Police "On the Pad"? and Casino Police "On the Pad"? Addendum and involves exactly the same ingredients (specifically, the casino's claim that the Player used a "robot") as those 4-year old cases.  (As I said - "same shit, different day.")

I said above - the Online Casino Justice System never had any understanding of the game play issues involved in a dispute.  This Part 1 post documents that even though 4 years have passed (the time necessary to obtain your typical Bachelor's Degree), what remains of that Justice System STILL has no understanding of their business.

This post defined our Integri-MeterTM, a ruler for gauging the level of justice displayed in a Justice System decision.  I referred to this as the sale price of Grandma - a rating of 1 equals "pocket change" and a rating of 100 equals "priceless".

I applied an Integri-MeterTM rating of 5 to the PAB issue raised in my post Casino Police "On the Pad"?.  I applied an Integri-MeterTM rating of 1 (pocket change) to the PAB issue raised in my post Casino Police "On the Pad"? Addendum.

As mentioned, all 3 of these PABs involved the casino's claim that the Player used a "robot" to facilitate their game play.  As also mentioned, the criteria applied (by both the casino and the Justice System) to make these "robot" decisions was either nonexistent, incomplete, inconclusive, subjective, impractical or just completely wrong.

I took the time to get data on this issue from a number of different online casino resources (Casinomeister, WizardOfOdds, WizardOfVegas, BeatingBonuses, GamblingGrumbles), and from that data generated a "Robot Test Matrix".
_____________________________________

My posts Casino Police Still "On the Pad" - Part 2 and Part 3 finally begin to dig into the details of that CM PAB from Aug of 2012.  (Part 1 actually spent most of its time in areas other than the PAB itself, in order to define, in detail, other criteria that were then referenced in Part 2 and Part 3.)

I've thought a lot about how to summarize these 2 posts.  I've written, and then trashed, several possibilities. I've reached the conclusion - how do you summarize a Marx Brothers movie?  You can't, so don't.  Go and read the posts.

Casino Police Still "On the Pad" - Part 2

Casino Police Still "On the Pad" - Part 3

_____________________________________________________________________________________


Thus ends a huge mini-series.  And what a Herculean labour it proved to be.

Fodder for future posts:

The Super Affiliates on whom the online Player community have grown to depend are so entrenched in the search engines.  How could one go about changing that?

Who polices the Police?  Or, if the only newspaper in town is corrupt, where do you publish that information?

And, of course, there is the Betfred/Finsoft/Spielo G2/Lottomatica/GRA mess that is playing out right now.  This one is seeing a lot of forum words not just on CM, but also the WizardOfVegas, BeatingBonuses, thePOGG and so forth.  My Casino Police Still "On the Pad" series was, at least to a certain extent, comical because of its limited impact.  This current issue has industry-wide ramifications.


Friday, January 11, 2013

A Wart's Opinion - Casino Police Still "On the Pad" - Part 3

Where we left things in Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 2:

Casinomeister (CM, aka Mr. Bryan Bailey) had finally received and published the long awaited and much anticipated analysis of the Player's game logs.  (Mr. Bailey included the report as an embedded link to a PDF file (available only to CM forum members), but we provide a copy here.)

Mr. Bailey's post also stated:
"We requested Eliot Jacobson to review the log files to determine whether a bot was used. 
The player had played slots and blackjack.  Even though the player was demanding payment for his blackjack winnings, the casino suspected bot play on most if not all BJ and slot games.  The logs analyzed were for Ocean Princess - the conclusion is that the player used a computer program to assist in the game play.  The same behaviors appeared in his black jack play."
First of all, Dr. Eliot Jacobson is the President of Certified Fair Gambling.  I would describe Dr. Jacobson as a long term and well-respected member of the online casino community, and I would tend to trust any analysis which he performs.

(I'll deal with the rest of this post from Mr. Bailey shortly.  See below.)

In this report from Dr. Jacobson:

1.)  You can see that he was provided with three log files, all three for game play in a slot named Ocean Princess dating from May 7 to Jul 9 2012.

2.)  You can see that he was NOT provided with any log files for game play in Pontoon by this Player, either in or before this "special promotion".

3.)  And finally, you can see that he was NOT provided with any log files for game play in any form of "a blackjack game" for any date by this Player.

So, obvious conflict #1 - Why was Dr. Jacobson asked to analyze old play logs for a slot game, when the game in question was multi-hand Pontoon?

(If you want, you can play the Flash version of this Ocean Princess slot at the latestcasinobonuses web site.)

Of the three logs provided to Dr. Jacobson, his analysis focused on the third log - a "session" of continuous play that lasted 44 hours and 53 minutes.  During this session the Player played 30,619 "rounds" of this slot.

Although Dr. Jacobson mentions it, there is no option to adjust the number of lines ("reel sets") in play - it is always 5.  Further, there is no "auto-play" feature available for this game.  The Player needs to "Spin", then select either 1 or 2 "Hold" buttons, then "Spin" again, all of this manually.  Any/all of these actions can be performed using the mouse (one-handed play) or the keyboard (two-handed play).

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The points raised in Dr. Jacobson’s summary:

#1. - An extraordinarily long period of continuous play at the same game.

I completely agree with Dr. Jacobson on this point.

#2. - Breaks insufficient in frequency or duration to accommodate basic human needs.

I completely agree with Dr. Jacobson on this point.

#3. - A rate of play in excess of what a human player can reasonably attain.

In his report Dr. Jacobson gave an average rate of play (over the entire 44 hour and 53 minute session) of 682.2 games per hour.  This works out to 11.4 games per minute (or about 5 seconds per game).

I played the Play-for-Free Flash version of this game at the latestcasinobonuses web site mentioned above.  In doing so, I configured the game's speed of play by clicking the Menu button (lower right), selecting Options, then Game Settings, and set everything to "fast".

Once done, and after a little "figure it out" practice time, I was able to comfortably play at the rate of about 10 games per minute.

Note 1:  I did not use the option of the number keypad to hold a column and the spacebar to spin - in other words, I did not use both hands to play.  All of my game interactions were done using the mouse, which it is safe to say would be slower than the 2-hand method.

Note 2:  I used my 5-year old Dell Precision M90 laptop to play these games, which is a serviceable PC but no "barn burner".  So I requested that my blog colleague Black Jack perform the same tests using his latest-and-greatest desktop computer (which I can tell you is a real "barn burner").  Black Jack was able to comfortably play at the rate of about 12 games per minute, again using only the single-handed mouse method.

Note 3:  In addition, it is obvious (based on the screen shots) that the Player involved did not use the Flash version of this game, but rather the download version.  (I have no interest whatsoever in downloading and installing a Playtech Casino for testing, regardless of my commitment to Truth, Justice and the RNG Way.)  It is generally accepted that download casino software (especially for such a simple game as Ocean Princess) runs faster than Flash casino software.

Bottom Line - I completely disagree with Dr. Jacobson on this point.

#4. - Minimal variation in game pace, beyond what could be attributed to lag or resets.

Of the 30619 total games played, 30444 (99.4%) of them were played with a "game gap" of between 4 and 7 seconds.  Based on my hands-on experience, this does not seem to be an unreasonable variation in game pace.

Bottom Line - I completely disagree with Dr. Jacobson on this point.

#5. - No variation in wager size or lines played.

I don't see how this is relevant.

#6. - The player did not earn an unreasonable profit from his play.

Again, I don't see how this is relevant.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Is the fact that the Player played for 44 hours and 53 minutes without a significant break of any kind, the only points on which I and Dr. Jacobson agree, "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" that the Player used a robot?

If we apply the guidelines defined in Part 1, well, I'd have to say yes, it is.  Either that, or more than one person was playing.  But even 3 people, playing in shifts - I'd have to say we're stretching the bounds of probability here.  (Three people, each playing two 8-hour shifts, and not one of them took a piss or made a sandwich?  I just can't see it.)

So, we have a report from Dr. Eliot Jacobson which proves "beyond a reasonable doubt" that from Jul 7 to Jul 9 this Player played a hell of a lot of slot games using a robot.

I said near the top of this post - "I'll deal with the rest of this post from Mr. Bailey shortly."  Here is that critique.  In the quote block at the top of this post Mr. Bailey states:

1.  "The player had played slots and blackjack."

Agreed.  1.) We're looking at slot logs, and 2.) we know he played Pontoon in the "special promotion".

2.  "Even though the player was demanding payment for his blackjack winnings, the casino suspected bot play on most if not all BJ and slot games."

Yeah, we got that.  We don't know what, if anything, it means yet, but we got it.

3.  "The logs analyzed were for Ocean Princess - the conclusion is that the player used a computer program to assist in the game play."

Yeah, we agree that the Player used a robot to play some Ocean Princess slot games.

4.  "The same behaviors appeared in his black jack play."

Huh?  What?  What "black jack play"?  What does "same behaviors" even mean when comparing a slot to Pontoon?

Side Note **********

Unlike your typical slot, Ocean Princess does have an extremely basic form of "optimal strategy".  It boils down to a single determination - what is the minimum value slot stop to hold if your only option is to hold 1 reel?

At thePOGG they state:  "... playing max coins using the optimal strategy the house edge is 0.93%, playing less than max coins with optimal strategy the house edge is 1.26% and the average player strategy generates a house edge of approximately 3% ..."  (Sadly, no guidance on "optimal strategy" is provided.)

In addition, there is only one "big win" in this slot.  The top 5 payouts (all are 3 in a row) are: 50X, 75X, 100X, 125X, and 1000X.  From this we might reasonably speculate that this is a "low variance" slot.  Low variance slots, by design, tend to extend play time by providing lots of little wins, but few "big wins".

However, a low variance slot that has a potential HE of less than 1% would be perfect as a "bonus burner" - that is, a way to grind through the wager requirement (WR) of a bonus.  If you wanted to make and/or sell a Playtech "bonus burner" robot, then this slot game would be perfect.

One of the long-term forum members (Join Date: Oct 2004) states:  "If the WR rules count it as a slot, it becomes a very good candidate for having a bot designed for it."  They also reference a web site to potentially find such a robot:  http://www.casibot.com/

(As it turns out by the way, this Player, during this marathon 45-hour Ocean Princess session, was playing with a bonus.  We don't know what the WR for this bonus was, or whether the $7,654.50 the Player wagered during this marathon session satisfied it, but they were using this bot as a "bonus burner".)

End Side Note **********

And thus, with Mr. Bailey's statement "The same behaviors appeared in his black jack play.", we now begin our journey into the promised fustercluck.

Before we get into what in the world the Player's July slot play has to do with playing multi-hand Pontoon in a "special promotion" in the middle of August, let's re-visit one of Mr. Bailey's earlier statements.  In this post, dated BEFORE Dr. Jacobson's analysis, Mr. Bailey stated:  "One of his sessions was for 44 hrs 53 minutes with 57.6 rounds per minute. The casino reported a number of other sessions like these."

In this statement he got the session duration right, but where he (or Betfred/Playtech) came up with 57.6 rounds per minute (1 second per game?) when the actual value was 11.4 rounds per minute (5 seconds per game) will perhaps remain a mystery for all time.

HOWEVER, this is significant because:

1.)  The Casino told Mr. Bailey that this was their proof.  (The problem with using "Casino Proof" was addressed in Casino Police "On the Pad"?)

2.)  Mr. Bailey was prepared, even willing, to take the Casino "at their word".  (This problem was addressed in Casino Police "On the Pad"? Addendum.

3.)  Based on this, Mr. Bailey had already concluded that the Player used a "bot" prior to any analysis.  If he had not succumbed to public pressure, the CM classic "Judge, Jury and Executioner" scenario would have played out.

Why, why, why does Mr. Bailey keep doing this?  (I think the AA quote goes:  "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.")

Now, onward into the development and conclusion of this fustercluck.

Well, the first post following the one containing Dr. Jacobson's linked report immediately pointed out the obvious - what does a slot robot have to do with a Pontoon promotion?

Mr. Bailey provided the totally non-helpful - "Please read what I posted. His gameplay was identical in BJ."

The Chief Bailey Buttock Remora, Nifty29, added the equally on target:  "At least now we know the OP was bullshitting us the whole time (which many suspected anyway)."  (If Mr. Bailey dies, Nifty29 will either have to be buried with him, or require significant facial reconstruction in order to correct the years he has spent in "ass sucker" mode.  Following a particularly nasty rant - even for Nifty29 - someone made an appropriate response.)

Mr. Bailey gets pissed that anyone dare defy his "Godhood", so he decides to award the forum with a (mini) BaileyBlastTM.  In this he addresses everything except the critical points:

- What does a slot robot have to do with a Pontoon promotion?

- Why weren't the actual play logs for the game in question analyzed?

Side Note **********

Mr. Bailey does make one statement which I'll need to quote here:

"Betfred has done a thorough investigation, Playtech has reviewed all of this info as well."

Let's take a look at yet another situation involving Betfred, Playtech, Blackjack, a Player and a "robot".  (This one is from Nov 2011, and is on Gambling Grumbles, a web site generally recognized as the #2 Player Protection web site in the online casino industry.)

In this case, the Player lost £1,658 in winnings due to the charge of using a robot.  You can see in this web page report that Betfred's Deputy Casino Manager states:

1.)  "... I am not legally allowed to provide you with the actual games logs for you to see ..."

2.)  they will "... send [the Player's] logs to a contact at a high position in Playtech who is an expert and provide a second opinion for us ..."

Gambling Grumble's conclusion:
"What we are certain of is that BetFred can not be positive that a bot was used.  Also, despite the fact that we were told 10 days ago that this would be checked by the expert at Playtech and we would be informed of his opinion, that never happened."
Our conclusion:  Betfred is full of shit!  Not legally allowed?  Playtech has an expert?  Promised data that never materializes?

I think all of this provides us with a proper context for Mr. Bailey's statement:  "Betfred has done a thorough investigation, Playtech has reviewed all of this info as well."

End Side Note **********

The CM Betfred rep makes a post - 140 words, saying absolutely nothing.  He makes another post - 116 words, saying nothing.  (As I said earlier, it takes real skill to do this.)

Dr. Jacobson makes his first post following the one which contains the link to his report.  Although I agree with his conclusion concerning the logs which he actually analyzed (the Player did use a robot in playing their 45-hour, 30,619 round slot marathon in order to grind through a bonus WR), Dr. Jacobson goes off the reservation in extending this "based-on-data" conclusion into complete speculation.

- "He built and tested his robot software on a low-level slot."  How does he know that the Player didn't simply purchase the robot?  As stated above, an Ocean Princess robot would be a great tool for burning through a Playtech casino's bonus WR.  It therefore seems logical to conclude that such a robot would already be available "off the shelf".

- "This was simply the development stage for his software.  His final test run was the slot play I analyzed."  "Final test run"?  Where did that come from?  (Another post raises a logical point:  "He could've done all that in free play."  That is, if the Player was actually creating this robot, then this development and final testing work could have been done for free in the Play-for-Fun casino.)

- "I did not look at his play on Pontoon because I was not asked to do so.  But I do believe he used his software to target Pontoon in the same fashion it played against the slot."  Wait a sec ... "I do believe"?  Based on what?  At what point does "belief" enter into a statistical analysis?
"The point of his project was always to try and beat these promotions by stuffing the box with his play.  He knew it might not happen the first time, but if he could play very fast, continuously, for a long period of time and at a very low level, then at very little expense of his personal time and energy he knew he stood a better than average chance.  Since these promotions are apparently ongoing, his intention was to continue using his bot in this way to win a car.  He may have been a member of a larger team playing collectively using this bot software.  My guess is that this is the case, since there have been some issued pinning down the IP address that this play originated.  Lucky (or unlucky) for him, the first time out he won the car."
"This incident points to the main reason that online casinos ban bots.  It is not that bots can beat their games.  They can't (if the software is built right).  It is that a bot signals a secondary intention that may be more sociopathic.  This case is a perfect example."
In all of this, Dr. Jacobson has removed himself from the world of data and analysis, and has decided to entertain pure speculation.  Dr. Jacobson later states:
"My opinion, without any evidence to support it other than the IP issue, is that a syndicate is using this bot to target promotions and other advantage situations."
Another member posts, asking the logical question:  "Id personally like to know how a video poker or slots bot, whatever the game may be, can be tested on such a game and then just switched to play perfect stratergy pontoon. It just does not make sense."

When asked whether Dr. Jacobson had seen the Player's Pontoon logs but had simply not reported on them, Dr. Jacobson replied:  "No. I never saw the pontoon logs. I did this audit as a favor to Bryan and was not paid (nor offered payment) by any party. I have no pony in this race."

Mr. Bailey provided Dr. Jacobson's report on Sep 3 2012, in post #174 of the thread.  4 days later, Sep 7, in post #372, Dr. Jacobson's report, along with Dr. Jacobson's speculations, as well as statements by the CM Betfred rep, are still being questioned.  And it is the same questions, over and over and over ...

- What does a slot robot have to do with a Pontoon promotion?

- Why weren't the actual play logs for the game in question analyzed?

That is 200 posts in 4 days, or an average of 50 posts a day!  At CM, 50 posts a day is an amazingly busy thread.

But that was the problem, for CM, and for Betfred.  The majority of these 200 posts were either asking the two questions noted above, or criticizing the answers (or perhaps more accurately the non-answers) that were being provided by CM and BetFred.

What should have happened?  Betfred should have paid Dr. Jacobson for a statistical analysis of the Player's game play records for the Pontoon play in the "special promotion".

What did happen?  Mr. Bailey made a final post, which contained the following statements:

- "I welcome criticism - and I welcome debates on bot use and fraudulent activity."

Yeah, right!  The first post following the publishing of Dr. Jacobson's report, which criticized the report as well as its conclusions, resulted in a (mini) BaileyBlastTM.

- "Unfortunately, sometimes threads spin into a bash-fest - either on a casino rep, or your fellow members. I for one will not tolerate this.  There have been several comments made in this thread that I found highly disappointing. Those members have been notified."

And this from a man who has already stated that he welcomes criticism.  A BaileyBlastTM for the general public, and private notices (threats?) to specific members.  His "welcoming" efforts are truly inspirational.

- "In my opinion, this specific issue is done - this thread's course has run."

50 posts a day, essentially demanding justice, and Mr. Bailey decides to lock the freakin' thread!
_____________________________________________________________________________________

OK, so the thread is locked, the decision is done, there is nothing left here.  How in the world do we Bottom Line this whole situation.

Well, the first step is to apply our Integri-MeterTM rating.  The result clearly deserves a rating of 1.  However ... there was a lot of effort put into this (mostly the report, and NOT the subsequent subjective input, from Dr. Jacobson) ...

So, I'm going to bottom line this with an Integri-MeterTM rating of 3.  It is painfully obvious that Casinomeister's protection racket remains in full swing.  There is just no other way to describe why the CM forum members were asking these questions and NOT Mr. Bailey.  After all, these questions would be obvious to any fifth grader.

It is also obvious that either Betfred is amazingly corrupt, or just amazingly incompetent at running an online Casino.  In my opinion, Betfred's casino is a relatively small part of the entire Betfred operation.  I therefore conclude that what we are seeing is:

1.)  Betfred's Casino Management and Marketing Management are amazingly incompetent.

2.)  These people spend a significant amount of their time trying to hide this fact from the people that sign their paychecks.

My colleague Black Jack made a post several months ago:  Avoid Betfred (And Casinomeister) Like The Plague.  Well, I'd agree with the "Avoid Betfred" part of that.  But as far as flat out "I just do not believe this shit", you can't get any better than Casinomeister.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Wart's Opinion - Casino Police Still "On the Pad" - Part 2

There are a lot of posts in this blog that lead us to where we are right now.

#1 - My first post in this blog - Ripples in the Water - which identified the transformation of "Player Advocate Web Sites" into "Casino Protection Rackets".

#2 - Another of my posts - Casino Police "On the Pad"? - dealt with a Player almost getting screwed by a casino named Casino Club on the charge that the Player used a robot.

#3 - Another one of my posts - Casino Police "On the Pad"? Addendum - dealt with a Player who did get totally screwed by a casino named BetFair on the charge that the Player used a robot.

#4 - Another of my posts - Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 1 - proposed a set of criteria for determining whether a Player might have used a robot.

And here we are at Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 2.  What we're going to do here is to try and apply the criteria that we proposed in Part 1 to another situation in which a Casino, in this case Betfred's casino, is attempting to screw a Player out of their winnings because they say the Player used a robot.

Important Info **********

It is not my contention that there are no "casino robots" being used today.  Indeed, quite the opposite - I suspect that the use of robots to play online casino games is not uncommon.

It is however my contention that the use of robots by Players is not (or more accurately should not be) a problem for the casinos such that punitive actions for their use should be applied.

It is also my contention that proving that a robot was actually used to play a series of games is exceedingly difficult (I avoid the use of the word "impossible") to prove.

And finally, it is my contention that casinos pull out the "Player used a robot" clause for no other reason than that the Player won an amount of money (a large amount of money) and the casino just doesn't want to pay.

End Important Info **********

The situation under discussion in this post is contained in a Casinomeister (CM) thread, and the link to this CM thread is below.  I strongly recommend that you read the first post in this thread.  Having read a significant number of CM posts, I can tell you that this one is amazingly literate.

HOWEVER, before following the link I feel the need to prepare you.  As with (almost) all things on the internet, this forum thread will continue to appear in a web search list.  CM (Mr. Bryan Bailey) needed to find a way to deal with this - that is, he needed to find a way to provide Betfred with "historical Casino Protection" (censorship without actually burning the book).

So, what did he do - he prefaced every single post from the affected Player with the following statement:
ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: The player's gameplay was analyzed by an independent third party, and it was determined that the player used a computer program to assist in his game play. In other words, he used a bot.
This statement was added to the top of the Player's thread post numbers 1, 125, 130, 133, 134, 137, 139, 143, 152, and 153.  That effort took some time - Mr. Bailey must have wanted to make DAMN sure that Betfred's back was covered.  Given the magnitude of this effort, I'm going to label it a Bailey BrainSpinTM.

So, given this warning, here is the CM link.  Again, the first post is, in my opinion, a required read.

Quick Summary:

The Player enters a "special promotion" at Betfred's casino:  Play Blackjack, get a hand with three Diamond 7s, and win either a new Jaguar or 29,940 GBP.

The Player goes on to explain that the "Terms & Conditions" (T&Cs) for the promotion initially excluded the following games - Duel Blackjack, Blackjack Surrender, Lucky Blackjack and Blackjack scratchcards.  According to the Player, Blackjack Switch was added to this "exclusion list" sometime around August 14th.

In other words:

1.  Betfred publicly recognized that all of the games in the exclusion list are generally considered to be "a Blackjack game".

2.  the game Pontoon was not included in this exclusion list.

The Player decided to play multi-hand Pontoon.  (They state that they contacted Betfred's customer service in chat to verify that Pontoon was an allowed game for this promotion, and that customer service responded yes.  This, however, cannot be verified as the Player did not provide the chat log.)

The Player states that on Aug 17 2012 one of their 5 hands received three diamond 7s.  They included a table screenshot clearly showing one of their hands with three diamond 7s.  They also include a screen shot of what appears to be a play log, also clearly showing three diamond 7s.

Side Note **********

A few posts ago I dealt with the requirements of proving that a casino cheated you.  In that post I indicated that proof starts with "a sufficient quantity of hard data", and described recorded videos as "the ultimate in hard data".

Screen shots, which is the data provided by this BetFred Player, are not at the same level as videos because of the possibility of "photoshop-ing".  That possibility puts them at #2 on the "hard data" list, which is still pretty damn good.

End Side Note **********

So, after receiving this three-diamond-7s Jaguar winning hand:

#1.)  The Player contacted Betfred's Support (a link to a CM thread confirms that this was done via email on Aug 17) and were told they did not win the Jaguar because Pontoon is not a Blackjack game.

#2.)  The Player contested this decision.  (They indicate they did this on Aug 19 2012, but do not specify the method.)  The Betfred response the Player then received (they indicate by email on Aug 20) said that they did not win the Jaguar because they used a "robot".

#3.)  And finally (the Player does not specify when and how) they were told that they did not win the Jaguar because Canadian Players were excluded from this "special promotion" in the T&Cs.

The first post in this thread from the Betfred CM representative contained the statement:  "The player in question did claim the Blackjack 7s top prize and Betfred did indeed reject his application for a number of reasons, many of which I can’t disclose on a public forum."

We are once again treated to a "behind closed doors", hidden courtroom, "Player gets screwed because CM is running a protection racket" online casino problem.  Many reasons which can't be disclosed in public?  What possibly can't be disclosed in public?

The Betfred rep actually invites the Player to enter Mr. Bailey's "Secret PAB Process", because once it gets into Bailey's Backroom Betfred knows that it's all over.

Betfred CM rep = Spider.  Player = Fly.  Mr. Bailey = Spiderweb.
______________________________________________________________________________________

OK, let's deal with the easy ones first.

#1.)  Is Pontoon considered "a Blackjack game"?

- The Player provides screen shots showing that Betfred's software provider for this "special promotion", Playtech, did and does consider Pontoon to be "a Blackjack game".

- CM states in this post that according to Hoyle's Encyclopedia of Card Games ("... the definitive rule book on card games."), Pontoon is "a Blackjack game".

- The web site blackjackchamp.com, which is clearly focused on the game of Blackjack, has a list of Playtech Blackjack games, in which Pontoon is listed.

- Galewind Software's Lobby has a button labeled Blackjack which when clicked exposes game thumbnail "launch graphics", one of which is Pontoon.

- I can confirm that on Jan 6 2013, at the following Betfred web page, under the expanded "Terms & Conditions Apply" section, in a table with the header "Example with a single bet", is the statement:  "Blackjack (all varieties, excluding Pontoon, Blackjack Switch and Blackjack Surrender)"

- We then have a post from the Betfred representative, in which he states:  "Pontoon was removed ..." and then a whole lot of other words (119 to be exact).  I consider myself to be an intelligent person, but I personally have no idea what those other words mean.  How someone can say absolutely nothing in 122 words is a real skill - not an admirable skill as the world does not benefit from this ability, but it's a skill nonetheless.

The bottom line here is that everyone, including Betfred, considers Pontoon to be "a Blackjack game", and that the Player's use of Pontoon in this "special promotion" was not a problem.

I am forced to conclude that Betfred removed Pontoon from the allowed games list for this "special promotion" after the Player won their Jaguar for no reason other than that the Player won the Jaguar.

I'll leave it to the reader to confirm, as they wish, the exceedingly weird shit (and I mean EXCEEDINGLY WEIRD SHIT) that Betfred did regarding the shuffling, and then final removal, of the Pontoon game from their entire frickin' casino.


#3.)  Were Canadian players excluded from the game in the T&Cs that were available on Aug 17?

- The Player provided a screen shot of a Google "cached page" of the T&Cs which clearly shows that Canada is NOT listed in the "ineligible countries", but there is no date for this T&C copy reference.

- In a post from the Betfred CM rep he states::  "The country was never a reason given for our denial of the prize."

So, although Canada was undeniably added to the list of "ineligible countries" for this "special promotion", there is one contention with no denial that this was done after the Player won the Jaguar, and this was not one of the "number of reasons" for which his win was denied.

(Think about this for, oh, 4 or 5 seconds.  They removed a game from their entire casino, and then removed an ENTIRE COUNTRY from this promotion.  An appropriate analogy simply escapes me.)

______________________________________________________________________________________

#2.)  Now we get to the heart of the matter, the one that Betfred decided to run with.  They said that the reason that the Player was denied their Jaguar was because they used a robot, and robot use is specifically forbidden in Betfred's Casino's T&Cs.

So, here we go!

First, Mr. Bailey decides to "shit-can the PAB".

He indicates that:  "I had selected a qualified neutral third party to review the player's game play. The player was instructed to contact the casino rep via email giving the casino explicit permission to send me and this qualified third party a copy of his game play."

Mr. Bailey did not indicate to the Player who this "qualified neutral third party" was, nor the conditions and criteria for the review.

He stated:  "Instead of cooperating, [the Player] began to debate the terms and conditions ..."

Given the documented history of CM's complete incompetence in handling "robot" complaints (read Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 1, Casino Police "On the Pad"? Addendum, or Casino Police "On the Pad"?), I also would have wanted things about this test (who is doing it, based on what criteria) known up front.

At this point in the post I'm also going to highlight a statement from Mr. Bailey:  "One of his sessions was for 44 hrs 53 minutes with 57.6 rounds per minute. The casino reported a number of other sessions like these."

I'm highlighting this now because this statement indicates that Mr. Bailey knew things about the Player's data which are of significant importance later.  (Not only that, but 57.6 rounds per minute equals 1 round per second.  Let's see how well Mr. Bailey's data, on which his "Secret PAB Process" would otherwise make its decision, holds up when the actual data becomes public.)

A Side Note **********

An interesting statement from the Betfred CM Rep:  "We tried to do this on a 1:1 basis but unfortunately the player preferred this medium."  OK, imagine this as a 1-on-1:

BetFred:  You didn't win it, you used a bot.

Player:  I did win it, I didn't use a bot.

BetFred:  You didn't win it, you used a bot.

Player:  I did win it, I didn't use a bot.

BetFred:  You didn't win it, you used a bot.

Player:  I did win it, I didn't use a bot.

.... Repeat as many times as you want.

End Side Note **********

And finally, we get to the first post from the Player after submitting the PAB.  (Remember, once you have submitted a PAB, you can't comment anywhere until that PAB has been concluded.  The Player dutifully held to this requirement.  Interestingly, the Betfred CM rep did not.)

In this post the Player states the reasons why he argued with Mr. Bailey about submitting his play logs to some unknown analyst to be evaluated based on some unknown criteria.
"In fact this was the very reason I had doubts about going to independent investigator - I know that there was nothing evidently non-human in my play and yet I was told that their 'assessment' found the bot play. So I suspected they are using some weird techniques. And that's when I started reading the T&C and arguing with Bryan.  Well, this is all irrelevant now. I totally agree my attitude did not look well and I apologize"
In this post the Player further details his concerns for who was going to be doing the testing, what criteria they were going to use, etc.  It is obvious from this post - the Player figures that he has only 1 bullet in his gun, he needs to hit the bullseye to win, someone else that he doesn't know is going to be doing the shooting, he doesn't know the qualifications of this person, and he doesn't even know the size of that bullseye.

Now that the Player has had at least a peek into Mr. Bailey's "smoky back room", he puts it on the line:
"Here is my suggestion. I post a bond of 1000 dollars via Moneybookers. The case is being reopened and my logs looked at. If a 44-hour 57 round per minute straight playing session is found, you keep the bond. If not, I get my prize."
Then we're treated to a whole lot of posts by forum members who consider Mr. Bailey to know everything about everything, to be as honest as the day is long, to never make a mistake, etc.  (These forum members do not just occasionally pucker up to Mr. Bailey.  They're more like Remora, permanently attached to Mr. Bailey's buttocks.)  The Bailey BlastTM issue is long forgotten, the "500 games per hour is beyond the scope of human capability" is long forgotten, the "take the casino at their word" issue is long forgotten.)

Mr. Bailey, in response to the Player's offer of a $1000 bond, tells the Player to just piss off.
"Betfred is not some clip-shot joint operating on a shoestring budget in cyberland; it's a legitimate well-financed corporation that is required to comply with the rules of their licensing jurisdiction."
A Side Note **********

(This is truly ironic, as in amazingly ironic, given the situation that is playing out on the CM forum as I write this blog post.  This new CM thread was initially titled "Betfred Rigged HiLo Games".  Mr. Bailey was on vacation until Monday Jan 7.  After his return it took him 4 hours to re-title the thread and get Betfred's name out of there.  This new issue is almost certainly the fodder for another post in this blog.)

End Side Note **********

The CM Betfred rep then makes a post, in which he hints at what went down, and what is coming up.  (He also decides to threaten the Player with a Libel Suit - I have absolutely no freakin' idea where that came from.)

Interestingly, and because of these "hints", this Betfred CM post has the opposite affect from the one that I'm sure they hoped for.  More and more posts are now appearing requesting that the PAB be re-opened.  It looks like there is something shady going on with Betfred after all.

Mr. Bailey, on Aug 30, then floats the idea of just closing the thread.  29 posts were made to the thread on the same day that Mr. Bailey makes this suggestion.  (A quick scan of the threads in this section of the CM forum shows that 29 posts far exceeds the average total posts for those threads.  In other words, 29 posts to a thread in a single day is a very active thread, and this is a thread that Mr. Bailey wants to shut down.)

Mr. Drayman (Max Drayman, aka MaxD, the Manager of the CM PAB system) states (also on Aug 30):
"Just wanted to add that the PAB has been shit-canned because the OP has said 'I don't want to cooperate with you on this'. He didn't use those exact words but the end result of him not giving permission for us to involve a 3rd party analyst is exactly that, not cooperating."
(Remember, this is the same fellow who stated that 500 games per hour proved "pretty much beyond question" that a robot was involved.  What if Mr. Drayman's brother was the secret analyst who was going to perform the verification of the log files?)

Mr. Bailey, later in the day on Aug 30, succumbs to public pressure and re-opens the PAB with a 24-hour deadline.  He then closes the thread until the play logs have been released, analyzed (by some still unknown analyst, using still unknown criteria), and reported.

4 days later, on Sep 3, Mr. Bailey re-opens the thread, and immediately initiates the complete fustercluck that is to follow.

I know that in Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 1, I stated that this was going to be a 2-part post.  Given the length of this Part 2 post, and the amount of words required to properly describe the fustercluck mentioned above, this has now changed to a 3-part post.  I anticipate that Part 3 will be published within the next 2 weeks.

In closing, however, I'd like to say - you just can't make this shit up.  We're talking about companies (CM, Betfred, etc.) that have been in business for well over 10 years.  You'd expect them to know what they're doing.  Instead we are witnesses to some of the stupidest shit ever to come down the pike.

I also feel it necessary to repeat something I said at the start of Part 1:  The devil is in the details, and writing about the details usually takes a whole lot of words.