The Alderney Gambling Control Commission: you follow the rules but you still dont get paid. Why bother with regulation at all?

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Online gambling regulation by accountable governmental bodies is a good thing for one reason and one reason alone: it offers protection to the player. There are many reasons why it&#8217-s good for the industry in terms of profit and image, but all that is irrelevant if the player side is missing from the equation, as without the player there is no industry.

I outlined serious flaws in the Malta Lotteries And Gaming Authority in my LGA article a few weeks ago. In recent days a regulator much closer to home has come into the spotlight. (The following appears in moreorless the same format in the Alderney Gambling Control Commission article on my own site.)

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission oversees remote gambling within the states of Alderney in the Channel Islands. In the blurb on the homepage we find the following:

The Commission ensures that its regulatory and supervisory approach meets the very highest of international standards.


So, does this have any practical relevance to the player?

As reported at Casinomeister, in early July 2008 a player deposited at one &#8220-PKR Casino&#8221-, receiving a signup bonus in the process. The next day he was tempted to re-deposit with another bonus invitation, after which he cashed out his balance.

Three days later, the casino revoked his bonuses on the basis of &#8220-bonus abuse&#8221-:

After a thorough review of your account it is evident that you have abused the PKRCasino Reload bonus. You have now been permanently banned from PKR and all funds gained by abusing the reload bonus have been seized.

Since the player had infringed no terms, he appealed to the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. A week or so later the Commission released the following quite breathtakingly atrocious findings:

You made two large deposits, $200 and $500. The first deposit of $200 is the maximum eligible amount for a first time deposit bonus. The second deposit is again the maximum eligible amount for reload bonus.

As soon as the bonuses were cleared you requested a withdrawal, each time within five minutes of clearing the specific bonus.

You did not engage in any play between the first withdrawal and the second deposit when the reload bonus became available.

The only game you played was casino hold em.

The vast majority of the bets you made were the minimum $1. This is quite a small bet amount when compared to the amounts that you deposited. Only the basic main bet was played, never the side bet (AA bet).

The total amount you bet on the account was $20,002.00, this reflects the $10,000 bet to claim the first deposit bonus and then a second $10,000 to claim the reload bonus. It is clear that as soon as the bonus was released no more games were played.

Play only occured while a bonus was pending.

The Commission has thoroughly investigated your claims and are found to be in agreement with PKR Limited’s decision to exclude you from their site. On obtaining details of your game play it’s apparent that you have abused the bonus scheme that was offered to you.

In accordance with sections 9 and 10 of PKR Limited’s terms and conditions, of which you agreed to adhere to at all times, they are more than within their rights to close your account and seize all funds

Here is section 10 of the above-mentioned terms and conditions:

PKRCasino reserves the right to withhold any bonus payment if it believes that the promotion has been abused and/or where the terms of the offer are not fulfilled, or any irregular wagering patterns are found.

So, according to the Alderney Commission:

The player played no disallowed games.

The player made no disallowed wagers, or disallowed wager sizes.

The player did not wager less than the stipulated amount.

In short: the player broke absolutely none of the rules of the contract.

PKR does not define &#8220-abuse&#8221-, nor &#8220-irregular wagering patterns&#8221– PKR does not, in fact, state that it must be unequivocally sure about this apparent abuse, only that it must believe that the undefined indiscretion has occured. And if PKR Casino believes that something which they cannot define may have happened, they reserve the right to confiscate players&#8217- money.

This must count as just about the most vague, inadequate and frankly risible condition you could find in a contract. Why not just say &#8220-we&#8217-ll keep your money if we don&#8217-t like your name&#8221-? Or &#8220-&#8230-if there&#8217-s a &#8216-y&#8217- in the month&#8221-? Or &#8220-&#8230-on Tuesdays&#8221-?

Would such absurdities be any more ludicrous than guesswork about a non-defined activity?

And yet, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission endorses this condition.

This is a precedent-setting move, as it sends a message out to players that casinos under Alderney jurisdiction may confiscate their legitimately-earned funds with absolute impunity, safe in the knowledge that the AGGC will do nothing to stop them.

As such, I would like to ask the AGCC the following questions:

1) Since a straight observance of all the stated rules is not acceptable to you, precisely what would a player need to do to earn his full cashout at one of your licensee casinos WITHOUT incurring your displeasure? Which additional rules would you have a player observe?

2) You appear unhappy with the playing of just the one game- how many, and which, additional and unstated games would one need to play to earn a full cashout, and why do you not require that the casino list them?

3) You appear unhappy with issues of betsize- what betsize is acceptable to you, and why do you not require that the casino list it?

4) You appear unhappy with strict observance of the required wagering- how much additional wagering do you consider acceptable and why do you not require that the casino state this?

5) You appear unhappy with the timescale of withdrawals (&#8221-within five minutes&#8230-&#8221-)- how soon after requirements are met is acceptable to you for withdrawing, and why do you not require that the casino state this?

6) You appear unhappy with the lack of play occuring outside of bonus requirements- how much additional play is acceptable to you, and why do you not require that the casino state this?


7) Why in the name of heaven can a player abide by all the given rules and not be paid in full?

I hope that at some point the AGCC will address these points, as it seems clear that a player who simply follows the stated rules is guilty in their eyes of an indeterminate indiscretion.

There is nothing new about incentivising bonuses – they occur even in the UK banking sector. Take a look at the Alliance And Leicester esaving account:

Earn 6.50% AER (variable), this rate includes a 0.88% bonus payable until 31 August 2009

The bank uses a bonus to boost the customer&#8217-s interest, giving them a nice, catchy headline rate. They may lose money on the bonus, but the idea is that the new customers they&#8217-ll gain will more than compensate for the loss. If the customer shamelessly empties his account when the bonus period expires and goes elsewhere, the bank does not confiscate the bonus funds. If they did, it would put them in quite monumental breach of UK law. And at the end of the day, why would they? – they should still make money overall.

The exact same marketing concepts govern bonuses offered by online gambling operations: &#8220-give &#8216-em money and you&#8217-ll make money&#8221-.

So if a profit-motivated customer of a UK bank cannot have his funds unfairly confiscated, why can similarly focussed customers of an operation under the jurisdiction of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission be subject to such outrageous treatment?

Well, here&#8217-s where it get&#8217-s interesting.

The answer is that there is nothing in Alderney law which prevents it.

In the UK and across many, if not all, other EU countries, trading standards legislation does not recognise the legality of anti-customer clauses in contracts – take a look at the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999:

If there is doubt about the meaning of a written term, the interpretation which is most favourable to the consumer shall prevail&#8230-An unfair term in a contract concluded with a consumer by a seller or supplier shall not be binding on the consumer&#8230-The contract shall continue to bind the parties if it is capable of continuing in existence without the unfair term.

One example of an unfair term is given as:

&#8220-&#8230-giving the seller or supplier&#8230-the exclusive right to interpret any term of the contract

You can see how this legislation would make it difficult for a business to hold customers to clauses like &#8220-we reserves the right to withhold any bonus payment if it believes that the promotion has been abused&#8221-.

Unfortunately, there is no trading standards legislation in Alderney, and as such nothing that protects the consumer from unfair practice – take a look at the &#8220-fair trading&#8221- section of the States Of Guernsey trading standards page of the Guernsey government website:

In March 2000 the States of Guernsey approved the introduction of legislation relating to the sale and supply of goods and services, unfair contract terms, misrepresentation and the disposal of uncollected goods. This legislation is at the stage of preparation and subsequent introduction

I spoke to the Guernsey trading standards office yesterday, and they confirmed that this is still the case – this legislation, though in the pipeline, is still not in place in 2008, fully eight years later!

I also spoke to the State Office of Alderney, and they confirmed that the same applies: there is no trading standards legislation in Alderney.

So where does this leave the player, on the receiving end of an outrageous decision issued by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission?

During my afternoon of phone conversations with the various Channel Islands public bodies, the Alderney Greffier pointed out that there is an appeal process listed in the 2006 eGambling Ordinance (see page 21, &#8220-appeals&#8221-). However, she acknowledged that this is a potentially rocky path:

Acceptance of the appeal request is down to the court itself.

Alderney solicitors charge upwards of ?400 an hour, making the pursuit of anything other than very large sums completely self-defeating.

Exactly what would happen as a result of a successful appeal is by no means guaranteed in terms of customer satisfaction.

Lastly, in the case of an appeal against unfair contract terms, when there is no actual law prohibiting such terms in the first place, it requires quite a stretch of the imagination to think that the court might find for the customer on that basis!

As such, appealing against a decision from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission is most likely an exercise in extreme pointlessness.

None of this should even be remotely necessary- an ostensibly respectable and competent governmental body should not be taking decisions based on what a customer might have done in relation to undefined, and frankly undefinable, terms – this is grossly unprofessional and grossly unfair. Vague talk about &#8220-bonus abuse&#8221- is the stuff of the lowest level of online casinos- it&#8217-s unthinkable that a governmental regulatory body would talk in the same manner. A serious regulator needs to take fair and balanced decisions: did the customer break any clearly defined rules? If so, he should not be paid. If not, he should receive his money- if he does not receive his money having broken no rules, then action against the operator should be forthcoming, up to and including the revocation of the operator&#8217-s license.

Not so in the case of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. What did they say? It bears repeating:

it&#8217-s apparent that you have abused the bonus

What is the lesson that players can take away from all this?

Well, take your chances by all means- a lot of the Alderney-based casinos are decent operations so you&#8217-ll probably be alright. But remember that if you are NOT alright, if you accept a promotional bonus, on the casino&#8217-s specific invitation as part of their marketing campaign to snag your deposit, and you cash out only to then find you&#8217-re the subject of ill-defined accusations of unacceptable behaviour you apparently may have indulged in, then you can expect no quarter given from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission on the basis of their performance in this case.

This was, I think, a test case for the AGCC, the first one of its kind that&#8217-s been in the public domain.

What a shame they fell at the first fence and set standards in online gambling back about ten years.

What is the point of &#8220-regulation&#8221-, if the reality is this?

15 thoughts on “The Alderney Gambling Control Commission: you follow the rules but you still dont get paid. Why bother with regulation at all?

  1. medemi said:

    I wast just looking to expand my business activities. But the UK is too hot at the moment.

    Alderney… thanks for the tip.

  2. Caruso said:

    It’s a valid point I assume you were making. Highlighting this kind of regulatory practice sends a big, fat message to disreputable operators that the body in question will give them an easy time, thereby encouraging them to flock to the jurisdiction in question and resulting in the person publicising the practice effectively shooting themselves in the foot and making things potentially even worse for the player.

    I think it’s still well worth it for getting the information into the public domain, though.

  3. medemi said:


    I’m supporting you. There is no substitute for openness.

    Indeed, almost everything we do has it’s upsides and downsides. But then we can’t make this a better world by ourselves. You do your bit (and you do it very well) and I do my little bit. If there aren’t any others who are willing to help out, then so be it. I won’t lose any sleep over it. I was also having some fun because we have no chance of improving anything when our activities are boring.

  4. Caruso said:

    Thanks. Yes, agreed. I don’t lose any sleep over it either, but this kind of thing bothers me a lot, as any gross injustice does.

    BTW – and I don’t want to be seen as spamming the hell out of M.O. and Chris is welcome to pick me up on it if my links get excessive – there was another issue that ties in with this, and is also an extraordinary breach of regulations if correct. The player in question lost his Moneybookers account at the time of this incident. Moneybookers denied any involvement from PKR, but have refused him any explanation whatsoever. If correctly reported, this is an absolue contravention of the 1998 Data Protection Act, which says as follows:

    “7 Right of access to personal data

    1) Subject to the following provisions of this section and to sections 8 and 9, an individual is entitled –

    a) to be informed by any data controller whether personal data of which that individual is the data subject are being processed by or on behalf of that data controller,

    b) if that is the case, to be given by the data controller a description of –

    i) the personal data of which that individual is the data subject,

    ii) the purposes for which they are being or are to be processed, and

    iii) the recipients or classes of recipients to whom they are or may be disclosed,

    c) to have communicated to him in an intelligible form –

    i) the information constituting any personal data of which that individual is the data subject, and

    ii) any information available to the data controller as to the source of those data”

    I’ve written about it in my Moneybookers potential breach of UK law article.

    If any financial institution, eg. a bank, closes your account, they are required by law to tell you precisely why. The same applies to Moneybookers. When I asked MB about this, they said I should base my opinions on the service I received and not that of others. Well hey, that’s very helpful.

    Anyway, not to digress, this was about the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, but it’s all part of the story.

  5. Caruso said:

    I’ve emailed the article to a member of the AGCC I spoke to other day when I was researching the Alderney legal situation. I look forward to their comments, particularly in relation to my above questions.

  6. Chris F. Masse said:

    @Caruso: Good.

  7. Caruso said:

    The silence, unsurprisingly, is deafening.

    No surprise. These people, and the industry as a whole, think they can say and do whatever and the PR bandwagon will just keep rolling along. They are by and large correct, as they have big media networks available where we have little to nothing.

  8. Sandracer said:

    The rule says playthrough the credits to the tune of for example: 20x deposit & bonus, and a popup informs the player while they are gambling that they can cashout, as they have met the terms and conditions specified.

    But according to Alderney to cashout once the terms have been met, warrants the casino the right to not payout the winner. 

  9. Caruso said:

    How can a comment I attempt to post, with links to the Gambling Commission and the DCMS, “seem a bit spammy”?

    Shrug. Whatever.

  10. Caruso said:

    I’ll try again.

    I sent this to the Gambling Commission and the DCMS, with the AGCC copied in:

    “Dear Sirs,

    I am emailing this to both the DCMS and the Gambling Commission as I am unsure who is the most appropriate recipient. I am also sending a copy to the AGCC.

    Regarding the matter of the whitelisting of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission:…../3310.aspx

    The whitelist entitles operators under these jurisdictions to advertise in the United Kingdom.

    The Alderney Gambling Control Commission recently issued a decision on a dispute between a player and an Alderney operator, one PKR Casino. I have written an article on the matter to which I’ll provide a link at the bottom of this email at which you will be able to access all relevant details. However, in summary: the AGCC found in favour of the operator, where the operator had confiscated funds from a player who had not broken any rules. The AGCC confirmed, in its findings, that the player had not broken any rules, but maintained that the operator was entitled to withhold funds notwithstanding.

    This has set a precedent for all players of Alderney-based online gambling operations, a precedent which effectively ensures that no player funds, legitimately earned through a strict observance of all rules, are safe, on the basis that the AGCC will not require their licensees to enforce payment under such conditions; moreover, they will support their licensees’ right to confiscate such legitimately-earned funds.

    These casinos, under the jurisdiction of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, have full entitlement to advertise in the United Kingdom, and as such, the funds of United Kingdom residents can be, and have already been, put in what is surely to be considered unacceptable jeopardy.

    My article can be read here:

    (link as above)

    What is your stance on the granting of advertising priviledges to a licencing jurisdicion, such as Alderney, which does not require that its licensee operators pay their players in full, where those players have broken no rules and have as such fullfilled all rules of the written contract? Is it acceptable that players in the UK be placed in the jeopardy that the Alderney jurisdiction represents? Can whitelist priviledges be revoked under such circumstances?

    Yours Faithfully,


  11. Chris F. Masse said:

    @Caruso: I see it worked out.

  12. Chris F. Masse said:

    @Caruso: You could publish that as a blog post, too. So more people will see it.

  13. Caruso said:

    If that’s OK with you Chris, I certainly will.

    What I did was to repost without links, then go back in and do some furious editing.

    Got it right on about the tenth attempt. :D

  14. Chris F. Masse said:

    @Caruso: Yes, do a post.

    Hummm… the anti-spam plugin is too strong…

  15. Gambling Commission and DCMS stance on the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, a regulator which condones its licensees' unlawful behaviour | Midas Oracle .ORG said:

    […] August 27th, 2008 This is a follow up to my Alderney Gambling Control Commission […]

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