At Casino Guru, we believe that the way casinos treat their players is one of the most important signs of their quality – not only those that bring a lot of revenue, but all of them.
Unfortunately, it is still basically an industry standard to use terms and conditions that limit players in terms of how they can play, and how they cannot. Many players may not always be aware of these limitations, which can even lead to them losing their entire winnings in some cases, all because of unknowingly breaking some of these terms and conditions.
While some of them certainly do make sense (e.g. one account per player, banning deposits made from other people's accounts or cards, etc.), there are other rules which we consider to be unfair towards players.
It is our goal to contribute to changing these standard, improving player safety, and ridding the terms and conditions of online casinos of unfair clauses.
Below, we will take a closer look at one of the most common areas of terms and conditions we consider to be unfair – banning specific or broadly defined betting patterns, which is mostly connected (but not limited) to bonus abuse.
Note: At the end of the article, you can find examples of specific rules we consider to be unfair, the reasoning behind our position, as well as what we think should be done instead.
All casino games are configured to give casinos a mathematical advantage. This means that the casino will always be profitable in the long run. It is a direct consequence of mathematical laws that are present everywhere, casino games included. We even dive deep into this topic in our video about the mathematics of casino games.
Mathematical laws dictate that, as long as probabilities of individual results remain unchanged (therefore the game has a fixed RTP), no betting strategy can give players an advantage over the casino and make them profitable in the long run. Just take a look at our article about Martingale and other common roulette strategies in this article.
As long as bonuses are not part of the equation (we will discuss bonuses and their effects below), it does not make any sense for casinos to ban any betting patterns and strategies. The only consequence of banning them is a worse user experience for the players, which is why really good casinos do not do it.
Now, let us take a look at the effect of bonuses in all of this. When a player gets a casino bonus, it is often possible to meet the wagering requirements, while statistically losing less than the value of the bonus. Thanks to this, players can actually be profitable in the long run. But can this be considered cheating? We think it definitely cannot be.
Casinos often argue that players should play to have fun, not to win money. While we do agree with this from the perspective of responsible gambling, the possibility of winning money definitely is part of the fun. Labeling players as cheaters just because they want to win is simply absurd.
Casinos have an advantage in all casino games, and they also control the bonuses they offer to new or existing players. There are many common rules that limit the ability of players to abuse bonuses, such as maximum bet, maximum win, wagering requirements, decreased contribution of certain games towards the wagering requirements, etc.
If a casino configures their bonuses in a way that allows players to gain an advantage thanks to them, we consider this to be the casino's fault, and definitely not the players'. As long as players comply with other fair terms and conditions (such as only opening one account, playing under their own name, etc.), we find bonus hunting to be perfectly acceptable.
Note: Of course, if players open multiple account or use other people's details to play, they should not be paid out; however, not because of using betting patterns or strategies, but because of breaking the aforementioned other rules.
Last but not least, it needs to be said that any way of playing can technically be called a 'betting pattern'. Rules forbidding betting patterns are often very subjective and can theoretically be used against all players.
If a casino identifies a bonus abuser, it is their right to exclude them from any future promotional offers or to ban them from playing in the casino altogether going forward. However, it is not acceptable to cancel the winnings they have already accumulated.
Now that our position is clear, let us take a look at few examples of unfair rules and how related issues should be handled instead, in order to provide a fair, user-friendly gambling experience.
If it appears that you are participating or attempting to participate in promotional abuse irregular play strategies, we have the right to freeze your account until the matter is resolved. If it is found that you are engaging in any of these activities, we reserve the right to block your account and cut all funds in the account.
It is not fair to cancel winnings of a player who has not done anything illegal. Of course, it is acceptable to close the player's account, but only after all winnings have been paid out.
Therefore, we think that this situation should be handled by paying out the player's winnings, which can be followed either by blocking the player from receiving any further promotional offers and bonuses, or by closing the player's account.
It is strictly prohibited to engage in any promotion abuse. This includes, but is not limited to:
- moving from high risk betting to low risk betting after a big win, for the purpose of clearing wagering requirements
The fact that the casino is prohibiting promotion abuse is unfair in and of itself, but we will focus on the second part of the clause here.
To start off, we think that players should be able to play in whatever way they wish, as long as they follow other bonus rules, such as maximum bet. Additionally, this rule is meant to deter bonus hunters, but it actually influences recreational players the most. These are the ones that are worried that they might lose their winnings, so they often decrease their bets after a win. True bonus hunters do not mind an increased variance. They focus mostly on their expected value, which is not affected by this betting pattern.
Instead of rules like these, casinos should focus on setting the wagering requirements, maximum bet, game contribution and other bonus rules in a way that makes it more difficult or even impossible for players to abuse their bonuses.
If it appears that you are participating in strategies that we in our sole discretion deem to be promotional abuse or irregular playing we reserve the right to deny, withold, revoke or withdraw your entitlement to any promotion, winnigs or bonus or terminate your access to the website and block your account. In such circumstances we shall be under no obligation to refund any funds that may be in your account other than your original deposit amounts.
There are many things to point out in this example, but we will focus on the fact that there are no exact definitions here. The casino does not even forbid specific activities or betting patterns, so this rule can be used to cancel the winnings of anyone that has used a bonus.
Instead, forbidden activities and betting patterns should be defined in more detail, so that players know what they can and cannot do when playing with a bonus. However, even when these are defined in detail, the casino should still pay out the winnings and proceed the same way as described above, after the first example.
A user who makes many different bets, each of which has minimum expectation to win, in order to receive an increased bet volume with minimal loss of balance, will be suspected of abuse a bonuses and will be instatntly excluded from current and subsequent bonuses.
Again, it is not acceptable to cancel the player's winnings from the current bonus. Additionally, all casino games have a house edge, so the casino is profitable even when players place low-risk bets. In fact, this rule will not stop bonus abusers. It will actually limit recreational players the most.
Casinos should focus on adjusting other bonus rules to make bonus abuse more difficult or not profitable, as well as improving the mechanisms used to identify bonus abusers, so that recreational players are not mistakenly flagged as bonus hunters.