Resolving disputes with an online casino
Last update: September, 2015.
Chances are you're reading this because you didn't pick the best casino. You probably chose one whose payouts aren't audited, or which is on a blacklist. You almost certainly didn't choose the only one we recommend, Bovada, because complaints about them are exceedingly rare. If any of these is the case, then chalk this up to experience: be careful which casino you choose next time. It's a hell of a lot easier to avoid picking a bad casino in the first place than to try to get your money back once it's already gone. You may yet be able to recover your money, but whether you can or not, you'll know to be careful next time.
Of course, whether you picked a good or bad casino, right now you're interested in resolving your dispute. Your complaint probably falls into one of these areas:
- You think the casino's games are fixed.
- You didn't get a bonus you expected.
- You tried to make a withdrawal but the casino won't pay you
You think the casino's games are fixed
It's highly unlikely that the casino is cheating unless you're dealing with a casino that has a history of cheating. (See the Wizard of Odds' list.) Most casinos don't cheat because they'd make less money that way, because they'd never get any repeat business — not to mention that getting a bad reputation in this business can easily kill an online operation. A casino winds up making less money if it cheats, so cheating is rare.
Also, almost all online casinos run software from one of about a dozen reputable providers. The software controls the game, so it would be hard for the casino to fix the game even if they wanted to.
Finally, remember that the casino has no need to cheat. The odds are already against you. If you're the kind of player who plays until your whole deposit is gone (and most players are), then fixing the games is pointless: the casino will get all your money sooner or later anyway.
Nevertheless, if you're convinced that a casino is cheating, then send us detailed records of your play and we'll try to see if anything looks amiss. Detailed records means the cards that were dealt, dice that were rolled, or roulette numbers that hit for at least several dozen rounds. If you merely tell us how much money you lost, or how many hands you lost we won't be able to help you.
You didn't get a bonus you expected
Many online casinos make the bonuses really difficult to qualify for. Usually you have to gamble a minimum amount of money, and often certain games don't count towards the play requirement. For example, at Captain Cooks they ignore play on just about everything — Roulette, Craps, Baccarat, SicBo, Video Poker, and Blackjack. (Gee, what else is left?)
So the first thing is to read the fine print on the casino's website and determine whether you really did qualify for the bonus. If you think you did, write to the casino and ask them why you didn't, quoting the terms of their bonus offer back to them. If they still disagree, then see the section below about resolving disputes.
We hate to sound like a broken record, but this is yet another reason to play only at Bovada. They give a simple 10% bonus on the first deposit, and you can play anything — nothing is excluded.
You tried to make a withdrawal but the casino won't pay you
This is probably the most common complaint against an online casino. The problem is exacerbated by the facts that the casino's bank is located offshore; PayPal, Neteller, and U.S. credit cards won't deal with casinos; and if the casino is mailing you a check then you have to wait for an international mailing.
If at all possible, you should request withdrawals through an online payment service or a bank wire. Electronic methods should be easier (and faster) for the casino to deal with.
If you're in the U.S., be prepared to wait a while to receive your payout. Due to a complicated legal climate, casinos have a hard time finding banks and payment processors that will handle payouts for U.S. players. It could be as long as six weeks.
Let's say you've read the above, you've written to the casino without success, and you've waited a reasonable amount of time for the issue to be resolved, and it hasn't been. Now what do you do?
The odds are against you at this point. Online gaming is largely unregulated, so there's not really anyone you can complain to who has any authority to act. That's why it's so important to pick a good casino in the first place, because once you get into a position in which you've got a problem, it may be too late. The only good player advocate we know of is Casinomeister, which tries to help resolve disputes as time permits.If the casino is a member of the Interactive Gaming Council then they've agreed to allow IGC to try to help mediate disputes, although the casino has no obligation to submit to mediation or arbitration. And the casino isn't a member of IGC then of course this does no good at all. But if the casino is an IGC member, it couldn't hurt to take your complaint to the IGC.
Bovada has agreed to let me mediate disputes for readers who open an account after clicking over to them from my site, play the casino games, and have a dispute they can't resolve on their own. But it's unlikely that your problem is with them, because nearly nobody has a problem with them. That's the primary reason I recommend them exclusively in the first place.
Next, you can report your issue to websites which maintain blacklists of bad casinos, like Wizard of Odds and Casinomeister. They might not be able to investigate your claim, but if they can, or if they've received other complaints about the same casino, then the website might at least add the casino to their blacklist to warn other players away from them.
At this point you might think this article wasn't very helpful, because it didn't detail a solid way for you to resolve your dispute. There's a reason for that: If you have a problem with a casino and it's not Bovada, then your options really are limited. If there were some magic way to get your issue resolved then we'd list it, but there's not, so we don't. Good luck.