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  1. #221
    MichaelCorfman's Avatar
    MichaelCorfman is offline GPWA Executive Director
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redbush54 View Post
    Next weekend will be the 3 month mark since Michael made his post. Is the final update anywhere close to coming soon?
    I had completed my research some time ago (close to the time I made the post you reference). But, as I stated previously, I wanted a lawyer to review the facts of the situation an provide an opinion before posting a final response in this thread. Unfortunately, that process has been drawn out substantially longer than I had anticipated would be the case.

    Because of that delay I have decided to post an an excerpt from the beginning of my draft findings, but not all of the findings and not any conclusions from those findings. Please note that I refer to Marko6 as Marko in the material below. Here goes:

    Excerpt from Draft Findings

    I view the proper handling of problem gambling-related issues as extremely important. On that basis I took a personal interest in investigating the questions and issues raised in this thread.

    Over the past several months I have engaged in extensive research and developed a thorough understanding of the various factors raised in this thread. There have been over 80 private messages between Marko and myself, about 15 email communications with representatives of Playtech plus a discussion with a Playtech representative at the EiG conference, and over 75 email exchanges with Club Gold.

    Discussions with Playtech

    Within this forum thread it was suggested that Playtech should have access to the chat logs and that they should be able to investigate and rule on the matter. Marko told me that Playtech responded to his request that they investigate the situation on 2 October 2013 as follows:

    Our team who have a relationship with Club Gold Casino have passed on your complaints to the operators and I understand that they dispute your version of events.

    I am afraid that we do not have records of e-mails between you and the operator and although it would be theoretically technically possible for Playtech to access the chat logs from the back end of the system, these logs and all other player data are the property of Club Gold Casino.

    We cannot therefore go into the system, access these logs and pass them to you, without proper authorisation. To do so would be a breach of our contract with Club Gold Casino and in breach of Data Protection Laws. We are under contract with Club Gold Casino who will not allow us to go into the system and pass logs to you.

    We do understand the difficulty you are in, but the right course of action for you would be either to seek redress through the regulator in Curacao or agree with Club Gold to submit your claim to some kind of independent adjudication or finally, under the terms & condition, seek legal redress against the operator.
    However, just one day after this thread was started, on 27 August 2013, Club Gold posted that they were willing to provide access to such information to the GPWA:

    Quote Originally Posted by CarmelCGC View Post
    We will be pleased to make our records available to GPWA.
    Because of this, I was optimistic that the same access would be provided to Playtech for the purpose of investigating the complaint. Consequently I had a number of communications with both Club Gold and Playtech to explore that possibility, hoping that Playtech would subsequently make a public statement on the matter.

    What is now very clear to me, based on those communications, is that Playtech takes both the conduct of their operators and problem gambling issues extremely seriously. However, it is also equally clear to me that Playtech correctly understands they are not a regulator. Personally, knowing what I know now, if I were legal counsel to Playtech, I would advise them that they (1) should support regulatory agencies by providing the information they might require to rule on issues, (2) should use information found in investigations they might conduct to determine if the standards they require are being followed and if business relationships should be continued, and (3) should not themselves make public statements directly regarding specific player issues. Indeed, I am not aware of such statements ever having been made by Playtech.

    Review of Chat Logs for Explicit Statements of Problem Gambling

    Accordingly, in subsequent discussions with Club Gold it was confirmed that they would provide full access to Marko’s chat logs, as authorized by him, for purposes of my investigation. It was agreed that I would remotely view the logs using a product called Teamviewer. From a technical perspective, the Teamviewer product allowed me to connect to a Club Gold computer that had access to the chat logs, and to remotely control the computer including scrolling through the complete set of chat logs and performing searches for specific strings within the chat logs.

    One of my primary objectives in reviewing the chat logs was to determine if any requests had been made that should have resulted in Marko’s account being closed due to his having raised problem gambling issues. My personal view is that problem gambling based requests should be taken very seriously and honored immediately, and that there should be accountability for any failure to take such a request seriously.

    I began my review of the chat logs by performing searches for various terms including “problem,” “issue,” “gambling,” “compulsive,” etc., that would identify areas within the chat logs that were the most relevant. Subsequent to my initial overview I also carefully reviewed each of the more than 5,000 entries in Marko’s chat logs in chronological order to ensure I understood the complete context of every exchange that had taken place.

    I found only one exchange in the chat log where I viewed Marko clearly indicating he had a gambling problem. The exchange took place on 5 June 2013. Marko began the chat with the following statement: "Is it possible to lock my account, so that I CANNOT open it again? I have a reason: I have a gambling problem." Six minutes later, after a brief exchange, including an email confirming that the account should be permanently closed, Club Gold confirmed closure both in the chat session and with a follow-up confirming email.

    Review of Deposits and Withdrawals

    I also looked at logs of deposits and withdrawals to determine if those were indicative of a problem gambling issue. Those records showed scheduled withdrawals of €5,000 each month from November 2012 through June 2013 for total withdrawals of winnings of 35,000 Euros. In that same time period deposits totaling €10,549 were made: €450 in December, €1,100 in January, €1,700 in February, €1,300 in March, €399 in April, €600 in May, and €5,000 in June. It was immediately after Marko lost all of the winnings he had withdrawn in May and redeposited at the beginning of June, that he requested his account be closed stating that he had a gambling problem.

    Review of Setting and Removal of Self Imposed Gambling Limits

    Marko did seem to set self-imposed limits on deposits and session-times virtually every time he gambled. Most chat sessions began with a request to remove self-imposed limits he had set at the end of a previous session, typically after first asking which bonuses were available to him. Sometimes, if he was not happy with the bonus offer available to him, he would decide not to play, and would not ask that the limits he had previously set to disallow future play be removed. In total I counted over 80 requests for limits to be removed. Once in October, 6 times in November, 15 times in December, 16 times in January, 13 times in February, 14 times in March, 7 times in April, 7 times in May, and 3 times in June. While it is clear Marko had to explicitly request that self-imposed limits be removed, and could not change them on his own, in most cases limits were changed when requested without significant delay beyond the time required to send a confirming email message

    After carefully reading the logs I decided to research responsible gambling practices with respect to self-imposed limits because I was concerned about the ease with which I saw they were removed. A common theme I found among those who thoughtfully considered the matter was that there should be some cooling off period between when a request to remove limits is made and when the limits are actually removed. As an example, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) currently recommends that once a self-imposed limit is set, it should only be relaxed after 24 hours notice. This is recommendation 67, given on page 11 within the RGA publication titled "Technical issues: Good practice guidelines for the remote gambling industry."

    Armed with this information I asked Club Gold about their business practices with respect to self-imposed limits. I told them that while the RGA guidelines were only suggested guidelines, even for RGA members, I viewed they represented a reasonable best practice with respect to self-imposed limits that they would be well advised to consider. I received the following response:

    The issue of problem gambling is one which is taken very seriously by Club Gold Casino and it has always been one of our top priorities to offer all possible assistance to any player who feels that he/she may be the subject of a possible gambling problem. While it is true that we did not have any policy in place with respect to a cooling off period following player requests for the removal of self-imposed limits at the time of the interaction with Marko, Marko's case actually acted as a prompt for us to consider such a policy. We are pleased to advise that since August this year, a 7 day cooling off period has actually been implemented in respect of all requests for the removal of self-imposed limits by players.
    Review of Payout Discussions

    I also investigated the question of payouts, and whether Marko had been told he was required to keep his account open and continue to submit requests each month in order to receive his balance. I view the most important chat on this topic took place on 26 October 2012 immediately after Marko won 50,000 Euros. In the chat Marko posed the following question: "On what webpage can I read all about your withdrawal rules?" to which Club Gold responded "http://www.clubgoldcasino.com/terms-conditions/"

    The relevant provisions from the terms and conditions page are quoted below:

    Quote Originally Posted by TermsAndConditions
    3.18. You have the right to withdraw any amount standing to the credit of Your Player Account at any time, subject to any withdrawal fees and any conditions relating to winnings and/or bonuses, as shown on the Website, by issuing the Casino with a notice of withdrawal through the Website. No withdrawal request will be accepted by the Casino unless it is received through the Website. It is not possible to make a request for withdrawal by telephone, email or using any other mode of communication. The Casino reserves the right to carry out additional verification procedures in respect of any withdrawal request. For security purposes, the maximum amount which may be withdrawn from Your Player Account in any one calendar month shall be EUR 5,000 (including winnings) unless prior arrangements for a larger amount have been agreed with the Casino.

    3.19. You may request the Casino to close Your Player Account at any time through the Website. Upon receiving such a request, the Casino shall transfer to You any amount standing to the credit of Your Player Account subject to any withdrawal fees and any conditions relating to winnings and/or bonuses, as shown on the Website and subject to the maximum monthly withdrawal limit shown above. The Casino shall have absolute discretion as to the mode of payment to be used in transferring Your funds to You upon the closure of Your Player Account.
    Since terms and conditions sometimes change, I used the archive.org website to determine if the relevant terms were different in October 2012 at the time of Marko’s win. In fact, I confirmed that these terms and conditions have remained unchanged since at least 2 May 2012, as shown in the archived version of the terms and conditions page made effective that date and available at the following url:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20120502215330/http://www.clubgoldcasino.com/terms-conditions/

    Paragraph 3.19 of the terms and conditions states explicitly that funds in a player account will be paid out after a player account is closed, and that there is no requirement for a player account to remain open for the balance to be received. In the chat sessions there were extended discussions about creating withdrawal requests, about the reversal of withdrawal requests, and about claiming bonuses for reversing withdrawal requests in the context of an open account. There were also extended discussions regarding withdrawal limits. However, there was no discussion of closing the account, how account closure was handled, or any discussion that contradicted the terms and conditions quoted above.

    Findings Incomplete

    The above findings are incomplete in several respects.

    1. They do not cover unavailability of games.
    2. They do not cover the specifics of Marko's claims.
    3. They do not present any conclusions with respect to Club Gold, or with respect to Marko's claims.

    Thread Locked

    From my perspective, I had a choice to make. I could have deferred posting additional information before the findings were completed. However, because of the long delay, I felt that was no longer appropriate. However, I am also about to attend the iGaming North America conference this coming week, and additionally I don't really feel it is appropriate to discuss partial findings until full findings are available, or when I cannot devote the time to respond to them. Consequently, in the interest of making partial findings available on an interim basis, I am locking the thread at the present time even though the full findings are not yet posted.

    In the meantime, I welcome feedback in the form of private messages to me, although please understand that it will probably be slightly more than a week until I am able to respond to them. If you do sent a private message to me on this topic, I will assume it is acceptable for me to post your comments on the topic in this thread if I should choose to do so unless you explicitly tell me otherwise.

    Michael
    GPWA Executive Director, Casino City CEO, Friend to the Village Idiot

    Resources for Affiliates: iGamingDirectory.com, iGamingAffiliatePrograms.com, GamingMeets.com

  2. #222
    MichaelCorfman's Avatar
    MichaelCorfman is offline GPWA Executive Director
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    Earlier today I received an email containing the ruling of Gaming Curacao, the organization that granted Club Gold a license to operate a gaming site in Curacao, with respect to the complaint Marko filed with them. Below find 1) the complaint Marko filed and 2) Gaming Curacao's ruling.

    Michael

    Quote Originally Posted by Marko
    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    I have been informed that Club Gold Casino holds a valid licence with you. I have a severe complaint (110k Euro) against Club Gold Casino and kindly ask you for a fair settlement of this issue:

    In October 2012 I won 50k at a slot called "Rome and Glory". After that win I contacted the casino's chat service and asked for an account lock. I was told that I cannot lock my account, if I want my funds to be paid. I was also told that I must log in to my account once a month to request a new 5k withdrawal for the current month. Today I know, that this was a lie. The casino should have honored my request for an account lock and still have paid my funds. Because of this misleading information I had not self-excluded myself at that time.

    The casino flooded me with promotional offers, so that I kept on playing. After I won another approximate 60k, I noticed that the casino restricted my game play. After having hit a 20k Royal Flush at "Jacks or Better" (4 hands) in February or March 2013 (I do not remember the exact date), the casino restricted this specific game. Whenever I tried to play it, I received a pop-up message saying "This game is currently not available! Please try another game." I noticed that a few days later the same pop-up message appeared, whenever I opened any other game but slots. Obviously, the casino wanted me to play slots, because slots usually have the lowest odds.

    So, my claim consists of two parts:
    (1) Club Gold Casino lied to me in October 2012, when it made me believe that I must keep my casino account unlocked to receive my funds.
    (2) Club Gold Casino restricted my game play to slots to easily win back my funds, while these games were still available to other players. They even lied to me when telling me for several weeks (!), that all these games are "under maintenance". Later they told me that I need to reload the software to be able to play those games. But that was another lie, because all games but slots always remained restricted. Only after installing the Greek version of the casino software I was able to play one more game ("Aces and Faces"), but all other video poker games and all other table games (all blackjack and all roulette games!) remained restricted. Casinos should make profit by no other means than chance. Restricting all games but slots and lying to the player is not acceptable.

    I request a refund of the balance which I had (approximately 110k), before the casino restricted my game play to slots. These funds should be refunded, because the casino was lying to me two times and because it tricked me by restricting all games but slots.

    All relevant proofs are contained in the chat logs, which have been saved by Playtech. Please contact Playtech to obtain permission to view these chat logs.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you.
    Sincerely
    Marko {full name omitted}
    Club Gold Casino username: {username omitted}

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaming-Curacao
    Mr. {last name omitted},

    First we would like to apologize that this has taken so long for us to respond to this complaint. This was passed on to me in January from my predecessor and I have been gathering all the information to make sure I understood the situation completely. With that being said I will address each of your complaints from your letter. Our main concern is to make sure there was no violation of the Master License under which we issued a license to Club Gold Casino. As we reviewed the letter of the Master License there are 2 articles that apply to this case: Article 17 refers to the players payouts

    1)The licensee shall ensure that the player is informed of;

    a)how to verify that he has won

    b)how much he has won

    c)within how much time following the termination of the game the prize money is available and

    d)for how long the prize money shall remain available

    2) Article 26

    In the event a supervisor establishes that the equipment or computer software causes interference

    In other electrical or electronic equipment the supervisor can order discontinuation of activities until the cause of the interference has been replaced.

    (1) Club Gold Casino lied to me in October 2012, when it made me believe that I must keep my casino account unlocked to receive my funds.

    We have reviewed the pertinent information concerning this and find this statement to be false and also all points of article 17 were followed. We find that the casino was up front with you in explaining their rules in both their T&C’s as well as several chats and e mails exchanged. Your options were explained to you and the decisions you made were of your own volition. You were paid 35,000 over a 7 month period as seen on the withdrawal reports. On reviewing the chat logs You informed the casino that you would not play until you had received all your winnings even though the casino informed you that you could action all your withdrawals over a 13month period to be paid in full. The customer service rep did everything to assist and explain to you your options. The final decision was yours to make and the house adhered to all your requests. One of the main discussions you had with the casino was your withdrawal limit. As they explained this could only be 5,000 a month as per their T&C’s. This discussion was brought up several times and the casino reminded you of their policies in which you agreed and continued playing as normal. On Oct 30th you requested the following: “I want to stop playing until all my funds have been paid to me. I will start playing again, once you have cashed out all my funds.” to which the support officer replied “I will get that actioned for you” in this same chat you then asked Mario, my decision is final: Please leave all my withdrawals as pending. Your payment team will then pay me month by month. I will make sure myself, that I will not start playing”. Should the you have asked for your account to be permanently closed, you would have regularly received EUR 5,000 per month with no further action required on your part but would never have been able to play again or open another account at the casino. You did not request this when presented to you. During this time you never mentioned gambling problem.

    Over the next months you went back and forth with the casino as to setting limits and then sending another e mail receding these limits, but still continuing to play. You had several discussions on chat concerning bonus play and how to make sure you were adhering to the rules of said bonuses. It is not up to the casino to pass judgment on whether you have a gambling problem based on your actions. There are many factors involved with dealing with customers over the internet and without a written letter to the casino informing them directly of your illness they cannot be sure of your intentions. The casino did finally close your account once they received the final e mail stating you had a gambling problem. The promotional offers you speak of are marketing tools the casino uses. We are all flooded with these promos on a daily basis from many different companies on the internet., but that does not mean we have to act on these offers.

    (2) Club Gold Casino restricted my game play to slots to easily win back my funds

    Your second complaint refers to games you were forced to play. While we understand that you feel this way it is of the casino’s best interest to review games that are not performing to standard. It is no different in any brick and mortar casino that feels a certain machine is not functioning properly. That device will be shut down until a full analysis has been completed to ensure it is running fairly. We reviewed your claim and find that Club Gold Casino had the right to shut down some games as there were inconsistencies with some of their games. These games were restricted until they were reviewed to ensure they were operating in a fair manor. At this time you were not forced to play any games, but chose to play other slots in which you lost some of your winnings.

    As stated above our main concern is to make sure there was no violation of the terms of the Master License and based on all information we have received and reviewed we find no violations. Should you have copies of e mails or chats that you feel have bearing in your case please submit them, but at this time we are closing this case. We hope that if you do have a gambling problem that you seek the appropriate help. We have sent a copy of this to CIGA.


    Regards,
    Stuart Goldstein
    Gaming-Curacao.com
    Michael
    GPWA Executive Director, Casino City CEO, Friend to the Village Idiot

    Resources for Affiliates: iGamingDirectory.com, iGamingAffiliatePrograms.com, GamingMeets.com

  3. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to MichaelCorfman For This Useful Post:

    bonuscenter (23 April 2014), DinoG (26 March 2014), LiisaCGP (26 March 2014), Redbush54 (25 March 2014), universal4 (25 March 2014)

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