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Golden Palace Bonus Abuse Lockout Controversy
IntroductionThis is a long story so let me start at the beginning. For several months prior to the controversy in question the Golden palace routinely offered 20% deposit promotions on a monthly basis for purchases up to $10,000. Their sister casino 'Casino Depot' also had such promotions but less frequently. Word about this had evidently spread from one person to another and many people, including myself, were taking advantage of this generous offer.
Evidently in April the management finally realized they were paying a lot of money to people who were only playing during promotion periods. On April 21 I received a letter from the Casino Depot informing me that I was breaking a mutual trust relationship between player and casino by only playing during the promotions. They also said that if this pattern continued they would suspend me from further promotions. That was entirely fair and I immediately began playing with my existing balances without any bonus in an effort to stay in their favor. Other players made purchases in response to this e-mail and played with those funds.
In late April and early May they began to take more forceful action by locking out players they considered guilty of bonus abuse. First they locked me out of my Casino Depot account. In an effort to show my good faith I continued to give a lot of play at the Golden Palace but was locked out there in mid-play. At the same time two posts defending the Golden Palace under the handles of 'Very Happy Player' and 'Jersey Girl' were made in a forum on online gambling at www.casinomeister.com. The IP addresses of said posts were traced to the same source of e-mail originating from the Golden Palace. Suffice it to say many players were enraged, including myself, by this time.
Some speculated that it was just an emotional overreaction on their part but the Golden Palace has been quite consistent in their stance on bonus abusers. Following this synopsis is their statement defending their actions. The week of May 10-12 I personally spoke with Mark, head of security, and other Golden Palace staff at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit in Montreal, all of whom continued to firmly defend their actions. They said they would review accounts on a case by case basis but definitely gave the impression that the typical bonus abuser would not get back any of their funds, including those based on deposits resulting from the Casino Depot warning e-mail.
Weeks past without any change in my own situation, I remained locked out. Then on June 6 they sent me an e-mail saying that they had authorized the unlocking of my accounts and welcomed me back. However this should not be interpreted as a reversal of their position. I spoke with Mark who said that they decided to open my accounts based on the fact that I did have some non-promotion play at another casino, that I did not have multiple accounts at any one casino, and that I did not have a large number of total accounts spanning across various other casinos. They want to stress that this is not a precedent case. In particular they do not want any phone calls from other players in response to this announcement.
When I spoke with Mark on June 6 I asked when the audits of other players would be finished. Mark told me that they were almost finished. On June 8 Mandy Crerar with the Golden Palace sent me a follow-up e-mail stating that, "Following lengthy discussions and a detailed review, we are of the opinion that all queries from players have been fully investigated and resolved adequately." So if you didn't get your money back yet it seems you aren't ever going to get it back. This at least establishes some degree of closure although I know there are a lot of players who are still very upset.
Although there are still a lot of sore feelings on both sides I think everyone has something to learn. Players, don't be too greedy and don't assume anybody is going to insure any kind of law and order to online gambling. For purposes of regulation it may as well be considered illegal. Casinos, if you don't want angry players then just abide by your own rules. If you don't like bonus hustlers then either tighten the rules or try to detect them early and just don't offer them any incentives in the future.
The following is the statement by the Golden Palace, sent to me on May 16, regarding the action it has taken against players who only play during promotions.
The Golden Palace Online Casino would like to take this opportunity to reiterate its promotional policy.
The Golden Palace routinely provides promotions for its players. The intention of these promotions is to reward our players by "comping" them with various bonuses. As the name implies, these are complementary promotional bonuses given to players as an acknowledgement of loyalty. The casino is under no obligation to provide these bonuses, but does so in the hope of creating and strengthening a positive relationship between the casino and its players. The vast majority of regular players greatly appreciate the chance such bonuses offer to enhance their play, by allowing them to sample new games or simply to extend their time at the casino.
Naturally, as with any complementary bonus, the casino applies certain conditions to the promotional policy in order to ensure fair play and to allow the continued enjoyment of our generous promotions. Land-based casinos have similar policies regarding "comps". They may, for example, offer players a complimentary room for playing at their casino. This is a gesture of goodwill on their part in recognition of a player's loyalty and continued patronage, and of the relationship that exists between the casino and its players. Of course the player has every right to play wherever he chooses; if he should discontinue playing at the establishment that offered him the original "comp," the relationship would also change, and the "comps" would no longer be offered. In a relationship of this nature, a player is only "comped" for regular play.
Recently, the Golden Palace Online Casino's promotional policy has been seriously and maliciously abused. A few individuals have taken unfair advantage of the promotions, completely disregarding the conditions of the promotional policy. There is no indication that they are in the least interested in an ongoing association with the casino. These individuals only come to the casino to play our games when we hold a promotion.
Golden Palace encourages people to play and to enjoy the promotions offered. In fact, Golden Palace goes one step further than land-based casinos, by offering "comps" even to players who have not played regularly. Again, this is done to encourage and foster a positive relationship between the casino and its players.
We want people to enjoy our promotions; we do not want to be abused.
After paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars to players who abuse promotions, we have decided to put an end to this situation. Just as land-based casinos would revoke a "comped" hotel room, we have identified those who have been abusing this policy and have locked them out of our system. Their bonuses were withdrawn and all credits that were purchased have been refunded. (Note that the vast majority of regular customers who legitimately played were not affected.)
In order to ensure the quality of the gaming experience that the majority of our regular players continue to enjoy at the casino, Golden Palace reserves the right to identify and exclude those who abuse the promotional policy. This does not represent a change in policy; it has always been clearly stated in the conditions of the promotional disclaimer. It is our intention to continue to offer promotions to those that are genuinely interested in playing at the casino. We will also continue to safeguard their interests by enforcing the conditions and excluding dishonest and unscrupulous players.
Following is my reply written after I received it.
According to their statements such as, "the casino applies certain conditions to the promotional policy in order to ensure fair play" it would seem the affected players were not meeting these unspecified "certain conditions." Based on their promotional rules and e-mail announcements I have seen the only initial rule was that the player had to gamble at least the sum of the deposit and the bonus. Later a rule was added that craps and roulette play did not apply towards earning a bonus. Recently another rule was added that all play had to be completed during the promotion period, generally running from a Monday to Thursday. Speaking from personal experience I abided by all these rules. In fact I exceeded the quota of gambling required by 50 to 100% every time I believe. If anyone can show me a rule that was made public before the recent lock outs requiring off promotion play I would be happy to retract my objections.
They also defend their action to seize account balances by comparing their action to a land-based casino denying a comped hotel room. I would compare their actions to locking a customer out of their hotel room and keeping the belongings left inside. I have never heard of a respectable casino doing anything like this. A land-based casino would likely cut off future comps and perhaps deny future entry but would not steal that player's money on the table or take by force a comp already given.
To be honest I actually feel a little guilty for the easy promotional money the Golden Palace and Casino Depot have given me. Month after month the same promotional e-mail would come and I accepted the offer almost every time. As a show of good faith I always played much more than I was required to. If other online casinos were not always offering other promotions I probably would have done some off promotion play. However I felt it was foolish to play anywhere for free when someplace else was having some kind of promotion. In retrospect I probably was too greedy and plan to curtail all promotion play in the future. However I stand by the fact that I obeyed every rule put forth to me. Instead of punishing players like me they should blame themselves for letting this so on as long as it has.
I would like to publicly thank the Golden Palace for all the promotional money they have given me. The glowing review of their casino and the Casino Depot was an expression of my very good feelings about them. When I met with their staff recently at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit in Montreal they were polite and gracious to me despite this dispute. However their recent action has shown both that they do not abide by their own rules and are vindictively blaming the players for their own mistakes.
Other casinos owned or operated by the Golden Palace: Bugsy Online, Caesar's Gold, Casino Depot, Crazy Horse, Easy Rider, Flamingo, Go Casino, Gold Nugget, Golden Palace, Grand Online, Grand Riviera, Kosher, L'Oasis, Lucky Charm, Merlin's Magic Castle, Mystique, Online Vegas, Pacific Princess, Premiere, Ramses Valley of Kings, Six Shooter, Star Online, Top Card, Triple Win, and Tropicana.
Written by: Michael Shackleford