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Gambling Warning: PREDATORY ONLINE PROGRESSIVES
Players have characterised the T&Cs on progressive jackpots at a number of online gambling websites as predatory this week as the forum row over Joyland Casino and player SylvieP continues to reverberate around the Internet.
Briefly summarised, the issue involved a Canadian player who hit the jackpot for $4 188 719.98 playing the Beach Life progressive slot at Joyland - a Playtech powered brand which is now (but was not at the time of the big win) part of the William Hill Online group following the major Playtech-Will Hill deal earlier this year.
The "win" was widely publicised as one of the biggest jackpots ever paid out. The sad thing is that the player only received about half of the winnings.
It turns out that the Terms and Conditions under which the player gambled at Joyland specified a maximum payout of $9 000 a month. This would mean that SylvieP would have to be around for the next 39 years to collect her full winnings!
Playtech presumably made the full jackpot payment to Joyland's owners, whom Trading Markets.com identifies as Six Digits Trading, allegedly associated through a trust with Teddy Sagi....who is a major shareholder in Playtech.
Long story short is that following some email exchanges through hotmail addresses the player felt pressured to agree to a payment of half the jackpot to ensure that she was paid immediately and in one tranche.
SylvieP recalls: "Feeling like there was no way out of this I decided to go ahead and collect only $2,3 million (half the prize) plus bonus which was $61 000 in VIP points because I was not getting anywhere and I felt that the VIP manager was not honest because he was changing and using words one day and the next day there was always something else. So to collect most of my winnings and make sure I was getting it I did as per their request.
"I was forced to collect what they offered to a total sum of $2,3 million I was so upset that on our last conversation I requested a witness and also recorded the whole conversation when all the sums and terms were discussed with them in order to finanlise the 2,3 mill. I made the VIP [casino representative] talk and asked him how much was my total winnings how much I had lost as per their requests and my bonus points? He summarised it and he stated at the end that he had erased my account balance, after which I tried to re log in and was unsuccessful. I guess they have blocked my account."
Since this incident, the Joyland brand along with the playerbase (but not the actual company, we are informed) was transferred to William Hill Online as part of the "Purchased Assets" in a widely reported major deal with Playtech.
But William Hill have washed their hands of the affair, judging by statements made to Casinomeister owner Bryan Bailey by a Will Hill exec.
Playtech has thus far been less than forthcoming when approached by Bailey, leaving some major question marks over what happened here:
1) Is it Playtech policy to allow licensees to do what they like with the progressives prize once it has been paid to them by the network? A full payout is what players anticipate when they hit the big one - not offers of half the prize or payments to eternity.
2) Where is the missing almost $2 million left after the player was only paid half the prize? And to whom should it rightfully belong? Joyland? Playtech's progressive network?
The storm of criticism that has swirled around this issue has resulted in players and webmasters on information sites gearing up to compile a list of those online casinos that have this sort of constraint on payments of progressive jackpot prizes, so that players can be warned in advance to carefully check the relevant T&C before deciding whether they wish to play the progressives at a particular establishment.
Thus far, the nascent list contains the following: Please do not play at any of the following casinos.
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Obviously in touch with player sentiments and the developing list, two online casinos, Betfred and Bet365 have assured players that they will honour the expectation that any progressive jackpot won will be paid out without delay and in full.
This issue has triggered investigations of online casino T&Cs across the Internet as the list is developed, and could have important implications for progressives providers which pay jackpots in one tranche and immediately like Cryptologic and Microgaming...and perhaps in a negative sense for those that do not.
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