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Reason #2 why the Wizard likes Bovada: No-hassle practice games
Most online casinos spend more effort trying to separate you from your money than they do trying to give you a good experience. They have all kinds of popup windows, they usually make you download their software, and if they do offer play-in-browser games then you have to register an account before you can play. And if you register they start sending you emails trying to get you to deposit real money.
But Bovada is different. They have no popup windows at all, and their practice games play right in your browser, with no download, and no registration required. You don't even have to give up your email address. It couldn't be simpler: just one click and you're playing the game.
I wish all online casinos showed this much respect for their players. Other casinos practically ask for your first born child to play for free. Meanwhile Bovada is patient and does not twist anybody's arm to play for real money. You can play as long as you like for free with no obligation. The real-money games are available if that's your preference, but if not, you can play the free practice games for as long as you like without hassle.
My blacklist is a place for the most unethical of Internet casinos. Reasons for inclusion on the blacklist include:
Game results are not consistent with a random game.
I expect all casinos to offer a fair game as evidenced by the fact that the cards or dice observed fall in line with statistical norms.
Non-payment of legitimate gambling winnings.
Granted the word "legitimate" is rather vague. I would prefer to say "any" gambling winnings, but many online casinos have a policy to not honor winnings in the case of extremely aggressive bonus abuse. While I strongly feel that casinos should honor their own rules, I want this list to consist of casinos that are significantly worse than the industry norm. Seizing deposits, or prior gambling winnings to the current withdrawal, are not acceptable, and justify blacklisting.
Non-payment of affiliate royalties.
Internet casinos typically pay advertisers according to how many players they deliver or how much those players lose. It is not unusual for untrustworthy casinos to short-pay their affiliates, either by changing the commission formula retroactively in their own favor, or simply to stop paying without explanation. Either way, a casino that can not be trusted to pay their advertising debts also can not be trusted to pay winning players, in my opinion.
Stealing web site content (typically mine).
Here is the Blacklist, starting with the most recently added:
- Moore Games — Added May 20, 2013
The first I heard of Moore Games is when a friend of mine complained that after a win of 9,000 Euros. It took four months to receive the first 5,000 of it. Then, suddenly, with no play, the account balance was zero. The casino told the player they had log files to prove he lost the money gambling, but my friend vehemently denies this, and any such log files would be fake.
Coincidentally, at the same time, The Pogg was investigating a very similar complaint from another winner who had 24,000 Euros mysteriously disappear. The casino sent a denial to the Pogg, and ignored follow-up efforts. The Pogg was basically put in a "he said - she said" situation. However, he uncovered the fact that the gaming license from Curacao was revoked on May 13, which made blacklisting much easier.
I wrote to Moore Games three time to ask for their version of both disputes. The first two attempts were ignored and the third, sent on May 20, 2013, bounced back. I also note that the Moore Games web site went down on that same date. So, maybe this warning may be too late, but if Moore Games still exists, I recommend you stay away, and current players withdraw your funds, if you still can.
- Spielo G2/Finsoft software — Added Jan. 9, 2013
I first became aware of Spielo G2/Finsoft when a player questioned the fairness of their Reel Deal game in a thread at CasinoMeister. After suspicious results at the Betfred casino, the player uploaded a log file of his play. The vast majority of the play was on an even money bet with what should have been a 50% chance of winning. The help file on the game claimed a 100% theoretical return.
The player made this even money bet 19,196 times. He won 9,201 times and lost 9,995. The probability of luck this bad or worse is less than 1 in 200 million, or five standard deviations south of expectations. It should be noted another game called Hi Lo Gambler is also suspected of the same kind of biased even money game, but I have not personally analyzed log files of that one.
Later in the thread, post #204, Aaron with Betfred said that the game was developed by a online gaming software company called SPIELO G2. They evidently had a fair and what I would call a cheating version of the game, which was set to a return of 96%. The help file for the fair 100% version was incorrectly given to Betfred.
Where I live in Nevada, regulation 14.040 says that any electronic representation of a card game must be dealt fairly, where each card has an equal chance to be played. I applaud this regulation, and I would call doing otherwise cheating. Granted, the parties involved with this game operate outside Nevada, but I expect any card, dice, or keno game anywhere to play by the same odds as if dealt fairly by a human being.
After doing an investigation, Betfred removed all games by SPIELO G2. However, it is my understanding that they have not refunded past losses on the gaffed games, which is unfortunate.
Some may wonder what is the difference between Finsoft, Spielo G2, and another company called Realistic Games, often mentioned in this story. It is my understanding that Finsoft is a division of Spielo G2. Realistic Games provided their games to Finsoft to distribute. However, the games made directly by Realistic Games performed fairly. We know this because BetVictor got the games directly from Realistic Games and they were fair. Finsoft altered the code to make losing cards appear more often than statistically expected in a fair game.
For more information, please see these more in-depth articles at ThePogg.com:
- Finsoft/Spielo G2/Dynamite Idea Rigged Games.
- FinSoft/Spielo G2/ Dynamite Ideas – How the Regulators Reacted.
SkillOnNet software — Added Dec. 15, 2012
SkillOnNet software is added because of a double-or-nothing feature in their games that is not consistent with statistical norms. After allegations of a win rate well under 50% at CasinoMeister, an independent investigation was conducted by The Pogg. In 303 double-or-nothing games the player won 108 times and lost 193 times. The probability of luck this bad, or worse, is 1 in 1,008,339.
Casinos using SkillOnNet software include EU Casino, Casino Red Kings, Mega Casino, Win 7, Oxygen 9, Play Million, Simba Games, Queen Vegas, Vegas Winner, Luna, BG Room.
Winaday — Added Dec. 13, 2012
Much like Slotland (see below), the odds of hitting a jackpot is not naturally determined by the cards, even by their own admission.
Please note that all games share the same mechanism which determines the jackpot win. Thus, with card games, the probability of hitting the jackpot combination is not natural but controlled by this shared random mechanism in the same way as slot machines' wins.
This statement can be found in the FAQ, under "How are the odds created for your games?"
It would seem that card games are not the only ones affected by this manipulation of the odds. A complaint was raised with The Pogg about their roulette game. In short, a player bet on a single number in single-zero roulette 1156 times and never won. The probability of this is 1 in 57 trillion.
While the casino admitted that was a mistake, they gave disaffected players a bonus only, with a mandatory play through requirement, as compensation. In my opinion the player should at least be given a full unconditional refund, preferably more as a penance.
Slotland — Added Dec. 13, 2012
It seems that Slotland shares the same cheating jackpot mechanism as Winaday (see above). Here is what they have to say about their Jacks or Better game.
Please note that all Slotland games share the same mechanism which determines the jackpot win. Therefore, the probability of hitting the jackpot combination on JacksOrBetter is not natural but controlled by this shared random mechanism in the same way as slot machines' wins. — Jacks or Better rules.
Casinos using BLR Technologies Software — Added Nov. 2, 2011
Be the Dealer — Added June 30, 2010
Be the Dealer makes the blacklist for failure to honor affiliate royalties to bj21.com. I will let Al Rogers of bj21 state the problem in his own words:
BJ21.com had an advertising relationship with BeTheDealer.com. We were paid promptly and regularly. Suddenly the payments stopped. In 2008, after many emails back and forth, we agreed to waive about two-thirds of the past due balance, in exchange for small monthly payments. The payments on the agreed-upon $32,000 balance were to be $1,000 per month. Payments were made from April 2008 until June 2009. In June 2009, again the payments stopped, and nothing has been paid since. We are still owed $14,887 by BeTheDealer.com. Numerous emails and phone calls have resulted in nothing more than broken promises and stalls.
It appears that BeTheDealer.com is in poor financial condition, and cannot or does not intend to honor its obligations. Potential customers and advertisers should be warned to stay away.
I gave BeTheDealer a chance to state their own version. A BeTheDealer representive named Martin said that they agreed to resume payments, to avoid the threatened bad publicity by both Al and me. Before that deal was made, Al Rogers posted a warning at onlinecasinosuite.com. I'm not sure of the timeline, but Martin said the post was a violation of their understanding, and thus he never resumed the payments.
Perhaps there is a chance this can still be resolved. However, until Al asks me to take down my warning, players should be aware of the problems BeTheDealer has in honoring their debts.
Ultimate Bet — Added June 9, 2008
Both Ultimate Bet (UB) and Absolute Poker (AP) (see below) are owned by the same parent company, Tokwiro Enterprises. The cheating and alleged cover-up at AP was also occuring at UB. A UB player by the handle "NioNio" stole millions from other players, by way of super-user access, which allowed him/her to see his opponents hole cards. His win rate was many orders of magnitude better than the best poker players on earth. Yet, this went on undetected, and perhaps aided by insiders, at UB for months. It took the player community to expose what was going on. If UB/AP wish to refute any of this, I would be happy to print their corrections or comments.
More information on Ultimate Bet cheating scandal:
Poker site cheating plot a high-stakes whodunit by Mike Brunker at MSNBC.com
Superusers and Silence: How UltimateBet let players get cheated for millions at twoplustwo.com.
Absolute Poker — Added November 30, 2007
Absolute Poker was placed on the Black List because of a hole-card scandal, and the denial that followed. Anybody can make mistakes or be hit by holes in security. However Absolute Poker had glaring evidence that a particular player was playing with evidence of competitors hole cards, and still denied it. For more information, please see my Absolute Poker investigation.
Virtual Casino Group — Added Nov. 13, 2007
This group of casinos is blacklisted for slow-paying and not paying players at all. I defer to the Casinomeister for the details. One of the many affected players is a good friend of mine, who has been owed money by three of these casinos for years. Virtual casinos are: Cirrus Casino, Prism Casino, Cool Cat Casino, Palace of Chance, Club Player, Vip Lounge, Bet Royal Casino, and SlotsofVegas.com.
SBG Global, Bet Royal — Added October 25, 2007 for non-payment of winnings.
These two sports books claim a group of players were all following the same radio handicapper in Connecticut, and such "syndicate" play is against the rules. In my opinion, this is a ridiculous reason for non-payment. Some handicappers have huge followings, who all bet the same way when the picks are released. Take your losses like a man and pay, for crying out loud!
Enterbet — Added January 19, 2007.
Enterbet is placed on the blacklist for stealing content from my site. Much of their games rules were copied word for word this site.
All Elka System/Oyster Gaming casinos.
After getting some anecdotal evidence that Netgaming.com was cheating in free play mode I gave them a try. In their single zero roulette game I placed 200 bets on red. My results were 133 wins and 67 losses. The probability of 133 or more wins in 200 spins is 1 in 3,788,515. So obviously they were letting me win. I blame the software for this and thus add all Elka/Oyster Gaming casinos to my blacklist. Besides this reason they have had a terrible reputation in the industry for years. Furthermore one of their clients, NetGaming, sold me out to pornography spammers. I used to maintain a list of Elka/Oyster casinos here but checking a random sampling of about ten 100% had vanished. So I believe this group to be fortunatly defunct. However the Casino Meister keeps a list of casinos that have used their software.
All Start Your Own Casino casinos
This software by their own admission can guarantee the operator a specified minimum win. As stated on their web site, "Our proprietary random number generator is calculating your profit before the winning/losing number is sent back to the game. You can set a minimum profit that is always kept for you! This also ensures that you will not wake up with $20000 debts!" Thus the games cannot be completely fair and random. I used to list three casinos using this software, but all three links are dead, as of July, 2009.
All MGM Gaming Systems casinos
The Wizard of Odds recommends you to not play joker poker at all casinos that use MGM Gaming Systems software. Based on my play at Transnet Casino (click here for full story) I very strongly believe that this software is not playing a fair game of Joker Poker. Besides Transnet other casinos that use this software include Axel, Casimodo Palace, Casino XO, Lazarus, Master Blackjack, Moon Palace, Paradise Players, Players Palace, Tiger Dragon, and Vino. (Update: All these casinos fortunately seem to have vanished)
All Vegas Strip casinos
I played at Cleopatra's Casino when they had a $100 bonus for $100 deposit promotion. I ran my balance up to $300 and cashed out. The $200 in bonus/winnings arrived 20 days later by Fed Ex, with an apology for taking so long. As usual with Real Time Gaming casinos everything went very smoothly and the bonus was paid quickly and without fuss. However I got a complaint from a player in July 2001 saying he responded to a Cleopatra promotion through this site. The player in question claims they refused payment of winnings and ignored all his inquiries. I put in an inquiry myself about the situation, which they never responded to. Failure to respond to my inquiry is just cause for me to remove my endorsement. This casino is part of the "Vegas Strip" family of casinos, a group I have been hearing a lot of complaints about. The GameMaster reports they have refused to pay winnings to players just for living in Denmark (a country known for Internet casino fraud). Other Vegas Strip casinos include America's Online Casino, Cleopatra's Casino, Club Regal Casino, eWorld Casino, and Club Mardi Gras Casino. Last date played: May 9, 2001. (Real Time Gaming software)
When I played at Casino Bar on May 27, 2002, and December 13, 2002, the evidence will show that I didn't get a fair game of blackjack. Three other webmasters also tested them and the results were also not in line with a fair game. For the entire story please visit Casino Bar investigation. Date last played: December 13, 2002 (C.O.A World Entertainment software). As of July, 2009, Casino Bar seems to have vanished.
During the glory days of Internet casino bonus hunting the Golden Palace offered a 20% bonus on purchases up to $10,000, every month. I personally collected $2000 in bonuses every month, and sometimes from their sister casino Casino Depot as well. In April 2000 they evidently started to realize what was going on and sent players letters stating that if they didn't play more during off promotions they would not be offered future promotions. This was fair and I gave them more free play. Others made deposits immediately after receiving this letter and played. Shortly after this they took an even stronger stance and locked out all players suspected of bonus abuse. By early June they had finished their investigations. Some players, including me, got their money back, and some did not. Golden Palace says those funds were donated to charity. I am of the opinion that every online casino should abide by its own rules. Seizing funds from players whose only fault is taking advantage of the bonuses that were offered is not acceptable. Not until the Golden Palace refunds the accounts of all players from this debacle will I remove them from the blacklist. For the long version of this story visit my Golden Palace statement. (Playtech software)