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Smart Live - Retrospective Terms Change - Winnings Witheld

Ruling

Found for the Player - While this case isn't entirely clear cut, the fundamental fact that Smart Live casino have closed and while they are paying players as there is a dispute related to this balance the intervention of their appointed ADR would be required to reach a resolution. As IBAS will not review disputes against a closed operator the player is left with no recourse and to have their issue reviewed and has been failed by the system.

Read our Smart Live Casino Review.

Player's Complaint

Hi ThePOGG,

Unfortunately I have another disagreement with an online casino that I need your help with. It also relates to a casino retrospectively changing terms and conditions, and trying to enforce them for my play.

I have been playing at Smart Live Casino since 2011, with several ups and downs along the way. I have deposited over £30,000 and have my own VIP Manager, [EDIT] ([EDIT]). I regularly receive deposit bonuses. On Wednesday 29th June Smart Live were offering a 50% to £500 bonus which was advertised on their website and also sent via email. The terms were displayed on the website, but were taken down at the end of the day. Significant terms were not included in the email.

I deposited £1,000 for this bonus, and after beating the wager requirements I had over £6,000 in my account. I requested a withdrawal. The next time I logged into my account I noticed my withdrawal had been cancelled and only my deposit was left in my account. I emailed [REMOVE]Irene[REMOVE], who informed me I had broken the bet limits in the T&Cs for the bonus. The term she quoted was:

"Smart Live Gaming reserves the right to withhold any withdrawals and/or confiscate all winnings in case a player places single bets higher than 20 GBP before the wagering requirements for the bonus have been met."

Whilst playing with the bonus I did bet more than £20 but less than 25% of bonus, so according to the terms provided by Smart Live, I had broken the bet limit.

I did check the terms before depositing, and did not remember such a low betting limit. Some other terms had changed from previous promotions, so I spoke to Live Chat to clarify these changed terms. I have a copy of this chat transcript. I find it highly unlikely that I would have spotted some changes in terms, but not other changes, when there were less than 20 terms in total. Previously the bet limit for promotions had been 25% of bonus.

I had not taken a screenshot of the terms and conditions at the time, which no player should have to do. Luckily when I checked Bing Cache they still had a copy of the terms for the promotion from Wednesday 29th June. The relevant term stated:

"Smart Live Gaming reserves the right to withhold any withdrawals and/or confiscate all winnings in case a player places single bets equal to or in excess of 25% of the value of the bonus before the wagering requirements for the bonus have been met."

This is different to the terms quoted by Smart Live, and my play would not have been in breach of these terms. I replied to Smart Live, asking them to confirm with management, that the terms had not been updated at all during the course of the promotion, they have replied in writing that the terms were not updated. I have not told them I have a cached copy of the terms which disproves their claims.

Given the evidence I have, I believe Smart Live have intentionally lied to me, taking down T&Cs from the website before the promotion had expired (players had 7 days to wager their bonus) and providing fabricated terms via email that were not displayed on their website. I can provide copies of my chat transcripts, emails, and cached T&Cs upon request.

Account Details:

Username - [EDIT]

Email - [EDIT]

Read the casino review

18 Responses

User icon
ThePOGG
July 7, 2016

Hi seanysean8 - welcome back!

Before I go any further can you forward on the URL of the promotion page and any screen shot evidence you may have gathered from the search engine caches to [email protected]?

Thanks,

ThePOGG

User icon
ThePOGG
July 8, 2016

Hi seanysean8 - thanks for providing that screen shot. Having reviewed the terms I'm not convinced this as clear cut as the operator having changed the terms after you played. You are partially right in that the following term has been changed:

"18. Smart Live Gaming reserves the right to withhold any withdrawal and/or confiscate all winnings in case a player places a single bets equal to or in excess of 25% of the value of the bonus before the wagering requirements for the bonus have been met."

This has been changed to:

"25. Smart Live Gaming reserves the right to withhold any withdrawals and/or confiscate all winnings in case a player places single bets higher than 20 GPB before the wagering requirements for the bonus have been met."

That is a change and could make a difference to your case. However, the terms from your screenshot also include:

"15. Please note that no more than £20 can be wagered per spin on any bonus funds gained from this offer."

While the above isn't as clear as it should be it does lay out a restriction on bets of £20 or more "on any bonus funds". Given the restriction of £20 that Smart Live have applied it seems clear that the intention of this term for the purposes of this bonus was to have a £20 bet restriction. However as the term stipulates that the restrictions apply to bets with "bonus funds", regardless of the intent the restriction has to apply only to bonus funds. As such I've reviewed the Smart Live terms and conditions to determine in what order funds are used during bonus play (deposit then bonus or bonus then deposit). There are no terms defining this. As such it seems fair to conclude that Smart Live use the industry standard of deposited funds used first then bonus funds. This would also be the more favourable interpretation for the player. That being the case, you would only be in violation of this term if your balance has dropped to the point where you had lost your deposited funds and were wagering with bonus funds. In other words, if your balance ever dropped below £500 I'm afraid you would have been in violation of this term. I'll contact the operator to discuss further and let you know what I hear. Thanks, ThePOGG

User icon
seanysean8
July 8, 2016

ThePOGG,

Thank you for reviewing. If the cached terms I sent through were the terms posted on the website when I checked them, I think I need to get my eyes checked as I seem to have missed that second critical term. I agree this would change the nature of the dispute. On the other hand the terms could have been updated multiple times that day, and we have no way of knowing this.

It certainly does seem like Smart Live intended to reduce the bet limit for this promotion, and added a lower bet limit, but forgot to remove the old bet limit. This has resulted in 2 (possibly) conflicting terms. I guess both the £20 and 25% limits could be valid for the same promotion, but it does seem a bit misleading to split the limit into 2 seperate terms if this was their intention. They have also removed all references to 25% limits now so I think it was a mistake this was left in the terms on 29th.

I have checked my account history, and if Smart Live count bets with cash first as you suggest, I did not dip into the bonus funds for my entire play session on 29th June. I would provide a screenshot for you but I can only display 10 records or so per page, and the entire history is 55 pages! As you have asked Smart Live to confirm this anyway, screenshots of my account history should not be necessary.

It is worth noting that Smart Live quoted the following term when voiding my winnings:

"Smart Live Gaming reserves the right to withhold any withdrawals and/or confiscate all winnings in case a player places single bets higher than 20 GBP before the wagering requirements for the bonus have been met."

This term is not listed in the screenshot provided.

They did not quote the term in the screenshot which states:

"15. Please note that no more than £20 can be wagered per spin on any bonus funds gained from this offer."

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

User icon
ThePOGG
July 27, 2016

Hi seanysean8,

I've finally managed to get a response from Smart Live to our attempts to discuss your complaint (note that the do not currently have the details of your complaint and the conversation never moved that far forward).

Unfortunately Smart Live have reverted to their previous position of insisting that they will not discuss complaints with 3rd parties regardless of the situation. As such our involvement in this issue can't move forward.

However Smart Live failed to raise in their communications with us, unlike other UKGC licensed operators taking this position, that they do in fact HAVE to discuss complaints that come up with their appointed ADR service IBAS. As such I would recommend taking your complaint to them. As long as you haven't used bonus funds during your play I feel there's a case against this operator in this instance.

Sorry we couldn't be of more help,

ThePOGG

User icon
seanysean8
July 27, 2016

Ok, thanks for your input. I will contact IBAS now and revert back with the outcome.

User icon
seanysean8
July 27, 2016

It is worth noting that they have not paid my deposit back, depsite requesting this almost a month ago. Support/VIP manager are refusing to reply to emails.

User icon
seanysean8
August 3, 2016

Another update, no response from multiple emails to Smart Live, and my withdrawal of £1,000 is still pending (now over a month).

I submitted a complaint to IBAS a week ago, and despite trying to contact them multiple times, I have received no response.

Seems everyone is ignoring me. Any other avenues I can try?

User icon
ThePOGG
August 5, 2016

Hi seanysean8,

IBAS will not be ignoring you. However they are a large organization that will be dealing with hundreds of player complaints at any one time. We function solely in the remote sector and average around 40 open complaints at any one time. IBAS are FAR larger than us and deal with both the remote and offline sectors, there open case load will be far larger than our own.

Further to this, ADR guidelines provide up to 90 calendar days for the ADR to reach a conclusion for a complaint, though that can be extended in exceptional circumstances. As such IBAS have a lot of time remaining before they have to have reached any conclusions.

In short, I'd suggest being patient.

Other than IBAS your options are pretty much limited to legal action and that's not something I'd be confident to provide guidance on.

ThePOGG

User icon
seanysean8
August 7, 2016

Fair enough, thanks for explaining. Presume you are aware of this: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/Press/2016/Interim-suspension-of-operating-licence-Smart-TV-Broadcasting-Limited-Plc-trading-as-Smart-TV-Broadcasting-Limited.aspx

User icon
ThePOGG
August 9, 2016

Hi seanysean8,

I was not aware of that when you sent it through - thank you. I do know that they're getting themselves in a lot of bother at other significant affiliate sites. I could be wrong, but this doesn't look very good right now.

ThePOGG

User icon
ThePOGG
August 29, 2016

Hi seanysean8,

Have you had any response from IBAS?

Unfortunately it appears that SmartLive have now closed, though they do appear to be paying withdrawal.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

User icon
seanysean8
September 7, 2016

Received 15th August:

Dear Mr xxxx

I acknowledge receipt of your submission outlining your complaint against Smart Live.

In the past 48 hours we have read that the Gambling Commission has decided to impose an interim operating licence suspension on Smart TV Broadcasting Ltd, which runs the Smart Live brands among others.

http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/Press/2016/Interim-suspension-of-operating-licence-Smart-TV-Broadcasting-Limited-Plc-trading-as-Smart-TV-Broadcasting-Limited.aspx

In the circumstances, it is unlikely that IBAS will be able to assist with any disputes regarding Smart TV until the Gambling Commission’s investigations have concluded although we will attempt to see whether any progress can be made. If we become aware of any information that might affect your dispute we will advise you as soon as possible. We also suggest that you continue to monitor the Gambling Commission’s website for further progress updates.

regards

IBAS

User icon
seanysean8
September 7, 2016

Received 6th Sept:

Dear Mr xxx

Following an email from the Gambling Commission we have been advised for clients waiting payments to visit their site.

http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/Press/2016/Smart-TV-Broadcasting-Limited-–-surrender-of-licences.aspx

Regards

IBAS

User icon
ThePOGG
September 7, 2016

Hi seanysean8,

In that case I would recommend contacting both IBAS and the Gambling Commission and explaining that as your funds were confiscated - in your opinion wrongly - you would need a ruling from SmartLive's ADR before they would process a payment for you.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

User icon
seanysean8
September 8, 2016

Contacted IBAS and UKGC as recommended above and received a very quick response from IBAS:

Dear Mr xxxx

I am sorry the matter is out of our hands now the Gambling Commission are involved.

I would hope that now clients are being asked to complete the form there might be funds available as normally when an operator ceases trading customers are not asked to do this.

It may be worth asking the Gambling Commission for the details of the administrators dealing with Smart Live’s affairs.

Regards

IBAS

User icon
ThePOGG
September 9, 2016

Hi seanysean8,

In my opinion this likely puts you in a very bad position.

As far as SmartLive are concerned they don't owe you anything. While I'd still recommend submitting the claim form, I would be very surprised if that by itself got you paid.

I'd suggest contacting the UKGC directly on this number +44 121 230 6666. Explain the situation - that SmartLive were non-responsive to one ADR and due to them giving up their license their appointed ADR won't intervene and that without a ruling in your favour you feel it highly unlikely that will choose to pay you. Hopefully the UKGC may be able to do something in this unusual situation.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

User icon
seanysean8
October 18, 2016

I contacted the UKGC but they said to email about the specific issue. It has taken a while for them to respond but I have now received a template answer that they cannot help players recover funds and that players play at licensed casinos at their own risk.

They then recommended I fill out the form on the Smart Live website again. Frankly I'm not impressed. I can forward the entire email if you would like to see it. I have read on another website that Smart Live are being investigated by the Insolvency Service but I don't know what that entails.

User icon
ThePOGG
November 4, 2016

Hi seanysean8,

Unfortunately I think this is a situation where you're completely out of options.

To be entirely fair, I don't think your case is clear cut, it's no guaranteed thing that you would get paid even on a full review of your case.

However, the system has absolutely failed to give you the opportunity to have your case properly reviewed. SmartLive appear to have gone out of business and the implications seem to be that they've run out of money. SmartLive's ADR are refusing to review the case as the operator has closed. The Gambling Commission are refusing to review the case as that's what ADRs are in place to do and suggesting submitting an application to the operator to be paid. That won't work as the operator have already decided not to pay you and without 3rd party intervention they won't change that position.

The only option let is to consider taking legal action. I couldn't provide any advice on doing that and more significantly, as the operator appears to be having financial difficulties and this is beyond a small claims court issue, there's a good chance you could spend a significant amount in legal fees with little possibility of any redress.

All in all this is a horrible situation but there's really nothing further we can do. Sorry!

ThePOGG

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seanysean8 consented for ThePOGG to act on their behalf and share the personal information that they provide to ThePOGG with the following agencies for the purposes of resolving their complaint:

July 7, 2016

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