Casino News

Complaint Rate Report from eCOGRA-Protected Online Casinos

July 22nd, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

eCOGRA is one of the most trustworthy online casino accreditation organizations in the industry. The firm applies rigorous standards to casino operators and even releases dispute resolutions statistics twice per year. This allows the online gambling industry to be privy to the status of disputes that occur at different online casinos between the operator and their customers.

2011 Half-Year Dispute Report

The 2011 half-year dispute report was recently released by eCOGRA Fair Gaming Advocate Tex Rees. The highlight of the report is that eCOGRA-accredited online casino operators have once again maintained a low complaint ratio under 0.5 percent per site over six months in 2011. Even more amazing is the valid complaints received by the organization were resolved within 72 hours.

Quick and Efficient Responses

Apparently operators have been quick and cooperative in cases where eCOGRA representatives have requested additional explanations or information. The operators have then had a fast turnaround time once the findings of each case were announced. Also, only a small handful of players circumvent the terms and conditions related to gameplay and payouts. However, these players are becoming more creative causing operators to develop improved methods of identification.

Safe and Fair Seal

eCOGRA currently boasts of 145 tier one online gambling websites which are owned by the largest and most established operators across the Internet. The organization also offers free dispute resolution to players betting at casino that have received the “Safe and Fair” seal. In the first half of 2011, 475 complaints were logged by eCOGRA with 57 from players wagering at unapproved online casino.

Breakdown of Complaints

Also, 60 complaints were determined to be invalid because the player was unable to provide the required information. This leaves 358 total complains recognized by the Fair Gaming Advocate. The breakdown of complaints is as follows: 41 percent were related to cash-in problems, 23 percent were bonus issues and 21 percent equated to locked accounts.

Complaint Resolution

The average complaint rate was 13 per week from all 145 accredited online casino operators. Additionally, during this time period the number of valid disputes resolved in favor of the player decreased by 3 percent (from 2010) to 40 percent. The primary reason for this was the large number of gambling syndicates uncovered by operators who broke the terms and conditions.

This report is important to the online gambling industry as it proves to the naysayers that those online casinos with the eCOGRA seal are safe and fair to players. This also checks the checker in that they are providing a fair service to the online gambling industry as well as the player.

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Closure Notice from the English Harbour Group

July 20th, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

Over its many years in business, the English Harbour Group has provided players with many popular games from Vegas Technology. Unfortunately the first sign of an issue occurred in May 2011 when the group was found to be directly linked to the Black Friday events in the United States. Following the incident, an announcement was released, “E.H. Gaming Ventures closed all of its casinos to new player registrations on May 16, 2011. The casinos remain open to existing players.”

Casino Settling

However, all brands of the group including, Millionaire Casino, Caribbean Gold Casino, VIP Slots Casino and Silver Dollar Casino continued providing regular promotions and events. At this point online gambling experts believed that the casino had settled down despite the minor inconvenience. Apparently this was not the case.

Finding Alternative Payment Options

In a post given by an English Harbour representative on July 8th, 2011 at a public online casino forum, the casino was said to be operating as planned for the customer. As a result of the events that have occurred in the United States the past several months, many online gaming sites are facing the challenges of offering reliable deposit options. Therefore, the group was attempting to function normally during this time with the hope of finding alternative payment options.

Closure of Brands

It comes as a complete surprise that all English Harbour online casinos are announcing a closure on their homepages. The notice at each brand states, “We recommend that you play out your balance or request a payout prior to August 1st. In the event that you have any questions please contact customer support. We would like to thank you for your loyalty through the years.”

Continued Operation

At this moment, the United Kingdom version of the English Harbour Group is functioning normally without this announcement. Similar UK domains are functional but others are not. It almost appears as if the English Harbour Group is eliminating .com domains which are controlled by the United States but is trying to keep all other domains functioning. Hopefully the operator will issue a statement to its players informing them of their intentions.

The English Harbour Group and subsequent casino brands have been around for a long time. Therefore, it would be a shame to see them close down. However, since the United Kingdom versions are still functional, perhaps there is hope for their continued operation after all.

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New Casino Lobby at Bodog Online Casino

July 18th, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

Bodog online casino recently announced the revamping of its casino lobby. Since the online gaming industry is so competitive, simply providing innovative games and excellent promotions is no long sufficient. Players look for gaming sites with easy navigation throughout the application. Bodog online casino has answered this call by refurbishing the lobby to accommodate its customers.

Innovative New Interface

Many of the 100 gaming titles from Realtime Gaming featured at Bodog Casino are innovative slot games. Therefore, the new lobby interface offers immediate access to all game information resulting in an easy selection of games amongst new players. The interface is fast and easily navigable. Players do not need to worry about learning new procedures to be able to use the lobby. It is as simple as logging in clicking and you are at your destination.

Search Bar

One of the newest features is a search bar that assist players by zeroing in on specific games or other information without the need for navigating through the lists. Tools to sort according to the predetermined parameters have proven to be important for players. Most participants at online casinos do not wager on every game available, instead they have a list of favorites. The new interface allows for players to create a customized games list of their favorite competitions.

Panel and List Views

Another new feature is the panel and list views. The panel view displays game icons directly in the panel while the list view simply presents the game titles in a tabular arrangement. Each view boasts its own advantages which is the main reason for the selection. Those already familiar with the icons will find the panel view convenient while those knowledgeable with the titles can easily use the list view.

Recently Played Games List

Also in the panel view are five easy-to-read categories which further simplifies soring and navigation. Furthermore, toggling between the two views is extremely easy. In each view, the recently played games are listed which is convenient for those players who repeatedly wager on the same online casino games.

The new casino is a blessing to new online players that could easily become lost in the vastness that is Bodog online casino. Navigation and an easy-to-use interface is an excellent method of consistently repeating business while attracting new players. Bodog has hit the nail on the head with their new lobby.

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Pirate Treasure Promotion

July 13th, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

Virgin Casino recently ended its pirate-themed promotion entitled, “Pirate Treasure Promotion”, which was announced with the tagline, “Jackpots Ahoy! Come on board our latest Slot Game, Chest of Plenty, coming this Wednesday, and grab a share of the pirate treasure – up to £650 Cash!”

Promotional Rules

The format for the event was familiar to Virgin Casino players. They were required to wager between GBP 500 and GBP 25,000 on the new slot game, “Chest of Plenty” and several other slots during the promotional time period. Those who achieved one of the amounts would receive a corresponding cash reward. There are ten tiers set by the casino.

Wagering Requirements

On the high end, to acquire GBP 650, players had to wager at least GBP 25,000. On the opposite end, those that bet GBP 500 would receive GBP 10. The promotion began on July 4th, 2011 and ended July 10th, 2011 with all credits being awarded the following day.

Double Diamond Slot Games

The list of acceptable games that applied to the promotion ranged from action to classic three-reel slots. One three-reel slot game that boasted the theme of riches was Double Diamond from WagerWorks. If the Double Diamond symbol matched any other icon, it doubles the payout. Two Double Diamond icons equated to the payout time four. Finally, three Double Diamond characters equaled the top jackpot reward.

Da Vinci Diamonds

Another similar featured game was Da Vinci Diamonds, also developed by WagerWorks. The theme of this game is Renaissance art and period paintings which acted as the symbols. The best aspect of the game is Tumbling Reels in which the symbols fall from the top of the screen as opposed to spinning. Winning combinations disappear while new symbols roll down the reels.

Other Eligible Slot Games

Other popular slot games on the list that were eligible for the promotion included 100,000 Pyramid, Crocodopolis, Wolf Run, Star Trek, Cleopatra, Wipeout and the War of the Worlds. All games on the list were developed by WagerWorks. Virgin online casino is licensed and regulated by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.

Since Virgin Casino is not specific to any specific third-party online gaming supplier, they are able to provide players with a variety of games from various vendors. This allows for a large amount of diversity and selection for players. Therefore, when the casino offers promotions, they have the luxury of focusing on specific types of games.

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Suspension of Play by Full Tilt Poker

July 7th, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

On April 15th, 2011, the top three American online poker rooms were indicted and subsequently shut down by the Department of Justice. This sudden elimination of these poker powerhouses came as a shock to the online gambling community. It had such a profound impact that the day has been dubbed, “Black Friday.” Poker Stars, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker immediately enacted damaged control to safeguard their gaming reputation and operations.

Effects of the Indictment

Unfortunately, Full Tilt Poker has not been able to withstand the impact of the indictment. As a result, the casino recently suspended all operations which affect players across the globe. Following the indictments on Black Friday, the licensing authority of Full Tilt Poker (the Alderney Gambling Control Commission) announced it would review the situation.

The Alderney Commission Investigation

Almost three months later, the Alderney Commission released the findings of its investigation and determined that it was necessary to suspend Full Tilt Poker’s license which inevitably suspends all operations. During the investigation, the Commission found that Full Tilt Poker was operating contrary to Alderney legislation.

Full Tilt Poker’s Current Activities

Currently, Full Tilt Poker’s servers are inactive and all play on the site has been immobilized. There is however plenty of chatter regarding the incident at the poker forums. The common reactions are of resignation, not anger. The Full Tilt website simply states the system is shut down due to maintenance and advises players to check back at a later date.

Return of Deposits

This suspension could not have occurred at a worse time for the poker site. Following the indictment, the poker room progressed to the advanced stages of negotiations with a third-party financier that would allow the company to return all deposits made by online American players since they were no longer able to play at the site.

PokerStars Reaction

The other leading American online poker room, PokerStars, reacted to the recent new about Full Tilt and assured the online gambling community that it does not face the same complications. More specifically, representatives announced that operations would continue as usual and all funds in player accounts are safe and available for withdrawal at any time. Also, the Isle of Man Gaming Commission remains intact and PokerStars is in full compliance with licensing requirements.

Not surprisingly, traffic on PokerStars has increased by five percent following the Full Tilt suspension. To become available, Full Tilt Poker may have to switch regulatory bodies which could take many months to become approved. Unfortunately this move by the Department of Justice could cripple Full Tilt Poker.

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July Events at Omni Casino

July 6th, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

Canada Day is celebrated in the country on July 1st of each year. In 2011, Omni Casino decided to with all Canadian players a happy and safe Canada Day by awarding them a special bonus. For the special day, Canadian players were eligible to receive a 100 percent matching bonus up to $100 on their initial deposit of $10 or more.

Canada Day Promotion

At the same time as the announcement of the Canada Day promotion, the Omni Times newsletter also previewed other major promotions for July 2011. First, the Crazy Cash Table Games event is expected to add many more players to the various table games offered by the casino operator. The event will offer cash back features mini contests and deposit bonuses. The dates of the promotion have not yet been released.

Beat the Heat Tournament

Another upcoming promotion is the Beat the Heat online slot tournament which will begin on July 15th and end July 31st. The guaranteed prize pool is set at $9,999 with more details to come as the event approaches. The Christmas in July promotion will begin on July 25th and end July 29th. Like the Beat the Heat tournament, further details of Christmas in July will be announced in the near future.

Sizzling Summer Cash Bonus

Additionally, Omni Casino recently introduced the Sizzling Summer Cash bonus which will begin July 6th and end the following day. The casino will match 120 percent of the deposit with a minimum of $30 and a maximum of $80. The giveaway is available on the first deposit made on July 6th and the first on July 7th. Other regular bonuses are also available such as the Super Value bonus on July 5th.

No New Releases

The most recent edition of the Omni Times did not mention the release of any new game in July. However, the industry rumor is that Playtech has several new games line up for release. Currently, Top Trumps Celebs is the most popular game at the casino followed by Pharaoh’s Secrets and Kong.

These upcoming promotions will be an excellent opportunity for players to pad their pockets. Tournaments, bonuses and other events are expected to be extremely exciting and improve the amount of traffic at the casino. Since no new games are scheduled to be launched in July, this is an excellent opportunity for players to add money to their wallet by playing on games they are familiar with.

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Neteller Remixing its Website

July 1st, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

Neteller released a statement to its customers via blog posting indicated that it will be revamping its website. The message specifically read, “We’re in the process of tuning up our website to make it easier than ever to find out how to get the most out of your Neteller eWallet, Net+ Prepaid MasterCard and all our other services. As part of this, our sign-in page has a new look and feel to it.” Furthermore, signing in will be as simple as before.

Customer Profile Section

One of the greatest changes was that Neteller users would be prompted to view and updated their information within the customer profile section. By ensuring contact information is current; Neteller will be better able to keep online players informed about giveaways, promotions, bonuses, improvements and other important news.

Other Benefits

The website has been redeveloped so it is more intuitive, gives account holders better navigation and is more aesthetically pleasing. The ease-of-use and navigation has been significantly improved as a result of the new layout. The most important user items are displayed on the left side of the web page. Also, after the user signs in, their account balance is always visible. Furthermore, a search bar has been added so users can find important details.

Collaboration of Utilities

Essentially, every utility needed by the average customer is now available in a single location including, funding online casinos and other accounts, learning how to manage affiliate accounts and utilizing a Net+ Prepaid MasterCard.

Customer Support Team

Additionally, the website has improved the communication between the customer and support team. Neteller highly recommends acquiring support from the email support form which is the most efficient method of alerting the support team of an issue. The process begins by clicking the “Ask a question” link on the support page which requires users to input their email address, subject ad question.

The system will then access its internal database to ensure it has the email address on file. For first time users, they will need to create a contact record in order to access help.  Once the system finds the email address it searches for a match to the inquiry in the FAQ area. If the answer is available, the user will be automatically directed to it. If not the user must finish submitting the question which will instantly be sent to the support team with a corresponding reference number.

The website is fast, efficient and easy-to-use, three of the most important aspects of a website. Users trying the site for the first time will be pleasantly surprised. The site should help Neteller continue to grow at a rapid rate.

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Online Gambling Moving Forward in Washington, D.C.

June 30th, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

Over the past several weeks, many concerns have risen with regards to the initiative of the Washington, D.C. council to introduce regulated online gambling. One of the greatest concerns was regarding the conflict of interest from an independent councilor who was employed by a legal firm with their hand in online gambling. The other major issue was the silence that Congress has maintained on the passing of a gambling bill.

Implementing an Online Gambling System

Regardless of these two concerns, the D.C. Lottery has decided to proceed with plans for implementing an online system for those living in the District. In a report released by the Washington Times, six online casino games will initially be offered which include, blackjack, Texas Hold’em and bingo. At first, the games will be available in demonstration mode to allow players get acquainted with the system.

Initial Point System for Wagering

The games will feature a point system in lieu of monetary wagering. This will also give developers the chance to tweak the software. The real money games will then be available four to six weeks following the implementation of demonstration mode. The games will initially only be available at public terminals known as platinum sponsors. To be eligible, players must be at least 19 and log in from within the city limits.

Streamlining the Process

Furthermore, the typical online gambling industry prohibitions of creating more than a single account and giving others access to that account will apply. Supporters of the gaming have stated that it is extremely critical to get the technology right the first time. This includes preventing players from logging in from outside of Washington, D.C.

Adding Revenue to the City Budget

The legalization and implementation of the system will bring millions of dollars in revenue to the city. For many cities, this revenue could make a significant difference. Future additions include additional online poker games, random number games, electronic instant tickets and Victory at Sea, a Battleship-type online wagering game.

On June 29th, 2011, the Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue will be involved in a hearing on future plans. This meeting is vital because the online gambling measure was added to the budget without public vetting. Therefore, the District’s CFO, Attorney General and other important parties will be briefed on how the system will work and why Washington is the first city to undertake the task.

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Online Gambling Growth Affected by Black Friday and Blue Monday

June 24th, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

It is inevitable that Black Friday and Blue Monday affect the growth of online gambling. However, stake holders are always left wondering by how much. Therefore, the reputed consulting organization, H2 Gambling Capital based out of the Manchester, U.K. recently released an assessment which revealed that online gambling growth will slow to 4.4 percent in 2011. This marks the slowest annual growth of the industry since data tracking began in 1998.

Low Global Growth

In early 2011, H2 Gambling Capital predicted gross win forecasts of 25 billion Euros. This represented a growth of 10.2 percent compared with 2010. However, H2 has since downgraded its estimate to 23.76 billion Euros as a result of Black Friday and preliminary results to date. This equates to the aforementioned 4.4 percent growth.

Reasons for Slow Growth

The firm listed several reasons for the slowing of growth in the online gambling industry. The greatest impact was that of Black Friday on the United States poker market. The H2 press release stated, “Black Friday occurring in the US that have decimated the scale of the Internet poker industry in that market. At this stage we have calculated that the impact will equate to as much as 765 million Euros of lost market value this year and further 100 million Euro loss next year.

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

The next most considerable reason was the effect the Japanese earthquake and tsunami had on the Japanese Racing Association, the largest interactive operator in the entire world. H2 indicated that the business decreased by around 13 percent in 2011. Other reasons include the economic backdrop and slow regulation of various online gambling markets.

The Silver Lining

The report further stated that the online gambling expected win excluding the United States and Japan was scheduled to grow by 12 percent in 2011. The primary contributor to this figure was the anticipated launch of online poker cash games and casino gambling in Italy toward the middle of 2011. H2 is expecting sizable growth in the market due to the move toward regulation in other European countries like Greece, Spain and Belgium.

Other than in the United States and Japan, it appears as if online gambling has a bright future. Once the cleanup and rebuilding is complete in Japan and the legalization of online gambling is implemented in the United States, the number will continue to rise.

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Casino Banking Product Released by Ukash

June 21st, 2011  |  Published in Casino News

Popular global payment solutions provider, Ukash, recently launched a new casino banking product. The focus of the provider’s products is to give players the ability to engage in casino transactions utilizing cash as opposed to credit cards and banking information. The company began by selling vouchers at a variety of retail outlets which could be used to fund online casinos. In 2010, Ukash allowed casino operators to pay out using these same vouchers.

UkashOut MasterCard

The next step in Ukash’s plan is the launch of the UkashOut MasterCard which allows players to “…convert online winnings back to cash safely and securely.” Therefore, when players receive their winnings, they can convert them to the MasterCard. Players can then use that card to withdraw cash from an ATM, use it for online purchases or at retail locations. The only condition is that the online or land-based retailer must accept MasterCard products.

Ukash Voucher

For those that desire to transfer winnings from an online casino to fund a different casino, the voucher and card are systematically closed resulting in a quicker and more convenient movement of money. The Ukash MasterCard is only able to be purchased and used with Ukash vouchers.

Statement from the CEO

The CEO of Ukash released a statement outlining that the MasterCard method is a major development for offering the complete gaming experience for players by offering the chance to convert winnings directly to cash. The result is a faster, more convenient form of cashing out for both players and operators. Furthermore, MasterCard is a globally-recognized financial brand which is trusted thus giving reassurance to the player.

UkashOut MasterCard Terms

Additionally, UkashOut can be issued in British pounds, Euros of U.S. dollars. Players will be able to hold only a single MasterCard for each currently. Online casino players will be required to complete a “Know Your Customer” process in order to acquire a card by mail which will then have to be activated prior to usage. This is a security requirement and standard global practice for all financial instruments.

In the near future, Ukash will be launching a television advertisement on Poker Channel TV throughout Europe. Additionally, any new signup between now and September for the UkashOut MasterCard will be eligible for a chance to win a seat at the EPT London poker tournament. The launch of this new product is a significant step for the online financial industry. Many other providers will certainly follow with similar products.

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