Online gambling is a multi-million dollar industry with millions of people across the world playing every day making it one of the most potentially lucrative industries across the globe making it susceptible to being manipulated.
A History of Violence
The history of gambling is tainted by stories and legends revolving around criminals and gangsters who have used casinos and poker to extort money and take advantage of others for their own benefit and profit. Gang lords such as Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, and Bugsy Siegel have been linked to various scandals within gambling that have resulted in the fixing of outcomes.
It seems to be a relationship made in heaven for cultural referencing. Hit Hollywood movies such as Casino, Ocean’s Eleven, and Goodfellas have touched upon the associations between casinos and crime. This has not helped a stereotype being formed between gangsters and casinos – something that has transcended into online gambling.
That said, they say life imitates art and in 2015 a scandal embroiled online gambling when the Maltese gambling jurisdiction suspended a number of gaming licences after it found links between the online sites and criminal organisations such as the Ndrangheta Calabrian crime syndicate. The director of Fenplay, Vincenzo Giuliano, was one of more than 50 people arrested as part of the investigation.
Are They Safe?
Nowadays, there is a feeling of paranoia whenever we enter our personal or financial details into the internet. There are horror stories circulating about fraud and theft online leading to a number of people point blank refusing to use the internet for any kind of financial transaction. This includes gambling online.
However, things are not quite as dangerous as the worst case scenario suggests. Online casinos ensure that they comply with strict rules and regulations. Not only do they have secure payment methods and encrypted password systems but they are also independently audited on a regular basis to prove to players that there is no foul play going on.
The Potripper Scandal
The one argument conspiracy theorists keep relating to when they hint that online casinos and poker sites are rigged is the Potripper Scandal. In 2007, Absolute Poker witnessed one of the worst scandals in online poker history when a player, who went by the alias of “Potripper”, managed to manipulate the software used at the online poker site to enable them to see the hole cards of opponents on Texas Hold’em tables.
Rumours soon began to spread on various poker forums such as PocketFives and 2Plus2 about irregular playing patterns at Absolute Poker with the player identified as “Potripper” being repeatedly named as a frequent offender. It was also alleged that the offender was a former employee of Absolute Poker.
The scandal came to a head when in one tournament on 12th September, 2007, “Potripper” defeated the widely renowned player “CrazyMarco” in a heads-up. This led to “CrazyMarco” suspecting suspicious activity was in play and after informing Absolute Poker of his thoughts, the poker site divulged the entire play history of the tournament. Analysis showed that one player had shown unusual betting activity that was suspiciously accurate. That player was “Potripper”.
On 12th October, Absolute Poker released a statement denying they had found evidence of cheating but moved to suspend four accounts including “Potripper”, “Graycat”, “Steamroller”, and “DoubleDrag”. Those watching on believed that all four accounts belonged to the same ex-employee at Absolute Poker.
It has since been suggested that Absolute Poker had used the former employee to rake back money they had lost. Absolute Poker eventually admitted that their software had been hacked and the poker site was fined $500,000 by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. There has been a dark cloud associated with the poker site ever since. This was not helped when in 2011, on a day now referred to as Black Friday, Absolute Poker was indicted on charges of fraud and money laundering. The site was subsequently shut down with immediate effect and has never come back online.
Just weeks after Absolute Poker had been fined by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, another scandal cropped up at its sister site UltimateBet. This time it turned out to be a former consultant called Russ Hamilton who had used “God Mode” manipulation of the site’s software to see other players’ hands.
Surveillance recordings were taken involving Hamilton and a number of other UltimateBet officials that not only implicated Hamilton in the scandal but also hinted that other members of the UltimateBet hierarchy had known about the scandal and were making efforts to cover it up.
Failure to Pay
A number of other scandals in the online poker world have only added to players being paranoid about how they carry out their business. As mentioned, Black Friday in 2011 was a dark day for online poker with Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars being shut down by the US federal government after being indicted for fraud and money-laundering. This saw millions of online poker players either lose their money in their accounts or wait years before being paid what they were owed.
Is It Rigged?
Unfortunately, every now and again, a scandal will rear its ugly head. This is not strictly confined to online gambling. The stock market, sports, reality television, business, media, and just everyday life throws up individuals that try to abuse the system. Online gambling is just one of those industries that is particularly prone due to the large sums of money that are transferred every day.
To find out more about the variety of trusted online casinos available, check out this site. It provides reviews and ratings of the big brands operating in the field of gambling, casino and poker. The industry has moved away from small time companies and fly by night operations, and is now very much led by household names like 888 and others.
There have been the odd cases that give players good reason to lose faith in the entire set up but luckily the bad apples are simply in the minority. The vast majority of online casino and poker sites manage a safe and fair operation where players can enjoy gambling online without being at risk from cheats or criminals. Random number generators, secure software, and regular independent auditing have made it harder than ever for security to be breached. The old saying goes that the house always wins but that does not mean the house cheats to do so. Not the majority anyway!
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