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Gone Rogue: How to Avoid Predatory Casinos

The first decade of the 21st century has seen a rapid expansion of online gambling. Now a widespread phenomenon, wagering on games of chance and skill, betting on sports and playing bingo games on the internet, has become available to anyone with a broadband connection to the virtual world. Juridical regulations have not, however, developed simultaneously with the growing international industry. Still lacking proper regulatory tools and effective sanctions, the global casino and bingo activity as a cash intensive business, is particularly vulnerable to criminal exploitation. Increased availability, lack of consumer protection, and cyberspace combined provide an ideal medium for the proliferation of rogue operators, illegal enterprises and other predatory entities involved in financial frauds.

''Rogue'' is a term used in the gambling community, to describe online operators that have strayed from the path of trustworthiness, reliability and morality, opting instead to use various, unscrupulous tactics to cheat and rob players of their money. Such entities that pray on the unsuspecting and the inexperienced, thrive in the online realm where they can hide behind avatars, false names and domains, and disappear at will without having to suffer any legal consequences.

Learn How to Recognize the Warning Signs of Shady Gaming Sites

We have witnessed far too many rogue operators exploiting players, and getting away with it all too easy. With the safety and well-being of gamblers being our number one priority, and the main reason behind the founding of TLF, we have made it our business to expose as many of these corrupt entities as we can.

Can you spot a rogue operator before the damage is done? Yes, you can, if you know how to take care of yourself while enjoying your favorite games. This guide was created specifically to help you, the player, easily distinguish between good and bad brands. Although the latter are known to employ multiple cunning strategies to promote their scams, gaming is still a relatively confined field in which repeated schemes are easily recognizable. Frauds can only use what limited means are available to them within the context of gambling operations, and after a while their machinations become very obvious. You will find out what exactly what to look out for when considering any online venue, in order to prevent such groups from taking advantage of your trust.

Licensing

A proper gaming license from a reputable regulator is usually a good sign, indicating that a site is not only willing to invest funds and resources into obtaining a valid permit, but is also ready to abide by strict laws and regulations. The lack of license is a major cause for concern!

The logo of a licensing jurisdiction should always be displayed on the homepage. Genuine seals are always linked to the official website of the regulator, more specifically to a section where all details of said license are available to public scrutiny.

Highly Regarded Jurisdictions

Among the most reputable jurisdictions in the iGaming industry, with disciplined consumer protection measures and a lineup of established patrons, are the following:

  • · The Malta Gaming Authority
  • · The Isle of Man
  • · The UK Gambling Control Commission
  • · The Alderney Gaming Control Commission
  • · The Kahnawake Gaming Commission
  • · The First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation
  • · Ireland Department of Justice
  • · Jersey Gambling Commission
  • · Schleswig-Holstein in Germany

iGaming Jurisdictions Favored by Criminal Groups

Rogue operators are attracted to licensing regulators that have low-cost fees, lenient application procedures, inadequate customer protection requirements, and those that do not demand banking reports to be sent to them for inspection. A license that is easily obtained does not, and should not, inspire confidence in any player. Among the best known are:

  • · Curacao
  • · Costa Rica
  • · Panama

If you come across one of the above mentioned logos, it doesn't necessarily mean that a site boasting it is bad. What it does mean, however, is that you should be more careful, and explore its reputation and terms of service in detail, before registering an account and playing for real money.

Reputable Affiliates

Established industry affiliates do not associate themselves with known criminal entities. They undertake regular screenings and background checks, to ensure partnering only with trustworthy gaming operators.

The seal of approval awarded by a legitimate affiliate, should provide added assurance that you have chosen wisely. If you are still unsure, contact the affiliate in question and they will gladly provide more information on each of their partner sites. Given that this is essentially gratis counseling, you will do well to embrace it whenever possible.

Pirated Software

Fake casino games have become a serious, widespread problem in recent years. More and more pirated slots and other software products find their way into the online market each year. Although such products are more prevalent in the casino, rather than bingo industry, awareness of this issue is still important. Most slots are fairly simple games, and producing their pirated versions is not too difficult a challenge.

In addition to being illegal, counterfeit products do not utilize tested and approved Random Number Generators - crucial elements that ensure the outcome of each round or spin is always determined at random.

With falsified versions, no matter how closely they resemble the originals, you can always count on RNG being altered in such a way, as to minimize chances of winning combinations to occur, or to prevent them from happening altogether.

Good forgeries are difficult to spot, but leading gambling directories and guides diligently investigate suspected distributors of pirated games. Findings are documented and published as warning reports on their websites, featuring detailed comparisons between genuine and fake games.

Infamous operators and providers of pirated software include 2WinPower, Desoft Gaming, all brands under Affpower affiliate group, and the majority of Israeli gaming groups.

Terms and Conditions

Familiarize yourself with the house rules of your chosen venue. It is of the utmost importance that you carefully examine terms and conditions, no matter how complicated they might seem, as this is where the outcome of your experience rests.

When registering a gaming account, you are automatically agreeing to the company's terms, meaning you are legally obliged to respect the contractual agreement made with them.

Corrupted gaming sites use ambiguous, obscure or predatory terms to confuse customers. These clauses are cunningly assembled, in a way that can be interpreted differently, depending on who is reading. In case you find yourself disadvantaged and file a complaint, the brand will use such terms to counter your claims.

Unreasonable or too frequent player verification procedures

Demanding ID documents upon most or all withdrawal requests, is a standard tactic most rogue websites use to avoid due payments. Identity verification procedures are tedious for players, take time to do properly, and often must be repeated due to missing documentation.

We have seen some truly outrageous demands pertaining to these procedures, such as asking players to take a photo standing next to a road sign, or some other landmark in their home country or city.

Long Payment Processing Times

There is no good reason to process transactions longer than 5 working days. This is an agreeable limit most gamblers will find bearable, but anything longer than that is an exercise in patience that no person should be subjected to.

Delayed payments are the first, and often the only, strategy rogue sites use to withhold earnings. What they are trying to accomplish, is make players give up on their winnings after eventually losing all hope. You would be surprised how many gamblers would rather let go of their rightfully earned money, than deal with months-long frustrations, evasive answers provided by customer support, or no answers given at all.

Abuse of Promotions and Bonuses

Bonuses are ideal traps to lure in bonus hunters, or inexperienced players. As a promotional offer devised and determined by the operator itself, any bonus can be assembled with a sole intent to never let a player actually win any money. This is all too easy to accomplish using a few predatory terms.

Be especially wary of too-good-to-be-true promotional incentives, that coincidentally fail to include a precise and clear list of rules players need to oblige. The terms must be included in the bonus box itself, or at the very least, there must be a working link leading to related rules in the general T&C tab on the website.

If none of these are provided, your final resort is the customer support - contact them via available means, and ask them to provide detailed information about their promotions. If they refuse to do so, or give incomplete and confusing answers, you will then have a very good reason to steer clear of the said site.

Here is a list of predatory bonus terms most often used by rogue sites, that should give you an accurate idea of what to avoid in the future:

  • - limiting the amount you can stake in a maximum single bet, while a bonus is active
  • - limiting winnings from free, deposit-based or all bonuses, regardless of the amount deposited or credited bonus funds
  • - imposing high withdrawal limits, in order to prevent cashing out of smaller quantities, and consequently forcing players to stake earnings in an attempt to win a sum significant enough to withdraw
  • - country-specific restrictions: imposing significantly higher wagering requirements for certain countries only, preventing certain countries from claiming all or some promotional offers, or completing rollover on games that are otherwise allowed
  • - imposing varying fees for withdrawals via some, or all accepted banking methods
  • - failing to specify what precisely constitutes prohibited bonus abuse, or determining bonus abuse at the casino's sole discretion, often after a player has already won using bonus funds
  • - altering existing terms, removing or adding new ones retroactively, after a player has already won using a bonus, in order to override their right to cash-out
  • - confiscating entire balances and/or terminating accounts due to suspected bonus abuse at the absolute discretion of the company
  • - confiscating a percentage of winnings, in the amount that exceeds the corresponding total stake, or the amount deposited
  • - failing to disclose a list of games allowed for bonus play and/or wagering
  • - building a balance, changing bet sizes, bet structures or game types is deemed ''irregular play'' and will incur confiscation of funds, or voiding of winnings
  • - allowing funds to be withdrawn only via methods already used to deposit, even though their banking methods might not provide such an option
  • - dividing payouts over €/£/$ 300 into monthly increments
  • - discreetly or openly urging players to pay unspecified taxes on earnings to the casino itself

Additional Tips

In the end, what's left to do is use your wits and common sense to figure out the best course of action.

If you are not confident in your own experience and attained knowledge, consult your fellow gamblers for advise. Your own hide need not be ruffled in the learning process - it may sound harsh, but it is always better to learn from other people's mistakes. Fortunately, the bingo community is close-knit and helpful, relating personal experiences for others to benefit from.

Read online bingo reviews, published by proven industry experts. Quality content is relevant, up to date, unbiased and accurate, offering all the information a player needs to embark on gaming adventures well-prepared.

Before claiming a bonus, take screenshots of both the bonus and general terms and conditions for safekeeping. This way, should you find yourself accused of abusing promotional incentives, or failing to note certain rules beforehand, you can always provide evidence supporting your case either to the casino, or to a mediator acting on your behalf.

You can also request live chat transcripts, to use in a similar manner. Support agents at rogue sites will often change their story, depending on the situation at hand. Catching them in the act of lying can help solve the situation in your favor.

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