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Sun Vegas – confiscated winnings

Ruling

Found for the Player - Sun Vegas have enforced their bonus terms inconsistently in a fashion that ensured they came out ahead despite a situation where both parties were at fault. As such we have moved all the Vegas Partner Lounge properties to Not Recommended status.

Read our Sun Vegas Casino Review.

Player's Complaint

Sun Vegas casino has confiscated £18600.

Casino: www.sunvegascasino.com username: [EDIT]

The e-mail of my casino account: [EDIT]

Description:

I have been playing at Sun Vegas casino since February 2012 losing a net sum of £18,175. This was before I got lucky on 7.10.13. When I logged out of my account that day I had £ 13,700 in pending withdrawal in addition to £13,500 in my account balance. The next time I logged in these £27,200 disappeared. At the same time, the sum of my deposits that day, £8600, have been returned to my Neteller account. The rest, a total of £18600 has been confiscated. The following exchange of mails between me and the casino tells it all:

The emails exchange:

Them:

Dear *[EDIT]*

Thank you for choosing to play at Sun Vegas Thumper.

We are happy to inform you that your Cash-In has been finalised. Your Cash-In will be paid into your account as soon as possible. Please familiarize yourself with your preferred *banking method* to see how long it will be until the money is available in your account.

At Sun Vegas Thumper we strive to ensure you the best in service and delivery. For this purpose, you can chat directly with a consultant who is dedicated to assisting you with all your queries right now. For all general enquiries, please e-mail*banking[@]vegaspartnerlounge.com.*

Feel free to contact us at any time.

Kind regards,

Withdrawals Manager

banking[@]vegaspartnerlounge.com

(They just forgot to mention that they Finalized it by confiscating most of it...)

Me:

15/10/2013 21:10 - [EDIT] wrote:

Hi,

When I logged out of my account on 7.10.13 I had £ 13,700 in pending withdrawal in addition to £ 13,500 in my account balance. I have received only £ 8600 to my Neteller account so far and the balance in my account is suddenly 0.

Please complete the withdrawal to my Neteller account and fix the account balance.

Best Regards,

[EDIT]

.

Them:

On 10/16/2013 1:04 PM, [EDIT] wrote:

Hi [EDIT],

Thank you for your email.

The decision was taken by our Risk department who have identified your gaming strategy and wagering as that of a professional gambler. This act was repeated multiple times and is therefore seen as a deliberate action to swing pay out odds in your favour. Our Terms and Conditions regarding this matter dictate that we close the accounts of such offenders however given your account history, we have decided to keep your account open.

The £8,600.00 you received in your Neteller account was for your deposits made which was refunded to you.

Should you require any further assist, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards,

[EDIT]

VIP Manager

Vegas Partner Lounge

Me:

17/10/2013 09:40 - [EDIT] wrote:

Hi [EDIT]

Why didn't you refund my deposits when I lost over 10k last month or when I lost over 12k the month before that? Or maybe you should refund me the over 110k I deposited since registering over a year and a half ago??

[EDIT]

Them:

On 10/18/2013 1:48 PM, [EDIT] wrote:

Hi [EDIT]

Thank you for your email.

The refund of your deposits were made for the duration of our Risk division reviewing your account/gameplay. It is for this reason that only the deposits made between this time frame have been refunded to you.

Hope you enjoy your weekend.

Kind regards,

[EDIT]

*VIP Manager*

*Vegas Partner Lounge*

Email: [EDIT]

Me:

Hi [EDIT]

Thank you for your email.

I would like to kindly request that the risk division review my game play during August, September and the beginning of October.

Once they do so, they will find a very similar, if not identical, game play to the one on 7.10.13, which they did not accept.

If they still remain in the opinion that my game play is not to their liking, could you please ask them to equally reverse all those gaming sessions too and credit my deposits of nearly £53,000 back to my Neteller account?

Naturally, they may reduce the amount of £27,700, already paid to me over that period.

Thank you.

[EDIT]

Them:

Hi [EDIT],

Thank you for your patience regarding this matter.

I received feedback from our Risk department that they did not specifically review a certain date range as you initially anticipated. They reviewed month's of game play before they identified your gaming strategy and wagering as that of a professional gambler. I have also been notified that we are unable to refund any deposits made on your Sun Vegas Casino account. The only refund that took place on your account was for £8600 which you already received.

Kind regards,

[EDIT]

*VIP Manager*

*Vegas Partner Lounge*

Email: [EDIT]

Me:

Hi [EDIT]

Thank you for your email.

I have been playing at your casino for the past 20 months using the same games and "game play" all along. During this time I lost a net sum of more than £18000.

As I did not breach any terms, it is clear from your reply that you allow yourself to reverse the result of my gaming sessions only when it suits yourself, that is, only when I win. Please note that I intend to take the matter further and will keep you informed.

Kind regards,

[EDIT]

Dear Pogg

I don't know what to add to this unbelievable emails exchange....

I believe that it speaks for itself, but please do not hesitate to ask me for any further info/proof you may need. I'd appreciate it greatly if you could check it out.

Kind regards,

[EDIT]

Read the casino review

9 Responses

ThePOGG
Nov 25, 2013

Hi veronika - thanks for getting in contact.

I'll contact Sun Vegas now and see what I can find out for you. Please bare with me.

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Dec 03, 2013

Hi veronika,

To keep you in the loop, I am currently discussing this issue with Sun Vegas. So far nothing that you've said has been contested and as such I've not come back to you.

I'll continue discussing the fair resolution to this issue as long as I feel there's any likelihood of a possible outcome, so please bear with me.

Thanks.

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Dec 05, 2013

Hi veronika,

To keep you in the loop - one of the management team at the Vegas Partners Lounge group has requested to speak with me on Friday to clarify the situation. I hope to have more information after that.

Thanks.

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Dec 10, 2013

Hi veronika,

There was a slight delay and I've only just spoken to Vegas Partners Lounge just now. Here's what I think of this issue and what Vegas Partners Lounge have told me;

1. There is a clear max bet rule when playing with a bonus at the Vegas Partners Lounge venues. As we've been monitoring the terms and conditions at their casinos for many months now, I can confirm that this has not changed during this time frame. As such your play was in violation of bonus rules.

2. You've stated that you were playing for an extended duration of time using the same betting system. My stance on this is that ALL sessions where the max bet term was violated should be considered void, not just the last session and that we should strive for a situation wherein neither the you not the casino come out substantially financially penalized for the rule violation (i.e. we sum the deposit made where the rule was breached and subtract all withdrawals made from play where the rule was breached leaving us with the difference between the amount you deposited and the amount you were paid).

3. After discussion Vegas Partners Lounge have stated that during the sum of all the play sessions where you did breach the maximum bet rule, you've actually been paid substantially more than you've deposited to the casino. This means that in actual fact - if all affected play sessions were voided - you would be due Sun Vegas money.

This last point is of specific importance - if you wish to contest it I need you to email Sun Vegas stating that you give them permission and ask them to release your transaction history to me for review. When you do this you should cc [email protected] so that I know you've sent the email. If you do that I'll review the deposit/withdrawal history over the affected sessions and insure their information is accurate.

If you do not wish to contest it (i.e. you agree that you are financially ahead of Sun Vegas over the sessions you breached this term) there really is no grounds for me to argue for the return of any further funds to you. Simply put, you broke a rule. You've received more funds that you would be entitled to if this rule is enforced consistently (to all sessions rather than just your last winning session), so you've come out ahead despite failure to adhere to the rules.

ThePOGG
Jan 03, 2014

Hi veronika,

To maintain realistic expectations and keep you informed as to what's going on, I have received some limited information regarding the financial transactions on your account (though this was before you're request to Sun Vegas to email your transactions to yourself). The information isn't entirely as clear as I would like and as such I'm going to require further clarification.

Unfortunately the team member I'm liaising with regarding this issue will not be back in the office until the 28th of January meaning I'm unlikely to get any further info until early February. In early February there's also the London Affiliate Conference which I will be attending and will likely take my contact out of the office again. It may be possible for me to discuss the issue directly there.

What I'm trying to say is that this is going to take some time so please bear with me. Regardless of the delays I haven't forgotten about your case and am actively working to get all the necessary information.

If you receive any further communication from Sun Vegas please forward it on.

Hope you've enjoyed the festive season.

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Jan 24, 2014

Hi veronika,

I realise that there has been an extended delay here but the member of staff handling this situation has returned to the office early and we are now discussing the issue.

Presently Vegas Partner Lounge has agree to provide me with the full play history for your account. Once I have that I will go through it transaction by transaction to establish exactly what play was in violation of the terms and what play was legitimate. As Sun Vegas only hold 6 months worth of information on player accounts, this does involve them going to Microgaming to retrieve older information. Software providers are notoriously slow to respond to these types of issues, so bear with me while I get the required information.

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Jan 30, 2014

Hey veronika,

Unfortunately Sun Vegas have only been able to provide 6 months worth of play history. Apparently Microgaming don't have any data from further back than that, which does seem odd to me.

I have looked through the data they've provided and given my opinion based on the information I've seen. I am now waiting for them to respond. I don't want to say too much about what I've said to them at this juncture, but I do expect this to require internal discussion. Bearing in mind that next week is the London Affiliate Conference - which I will be attending and will take myself and most of my casino contacts out of the office for most of the week - I don't expect a full response until the week after next, but at that point we should finally be able to bring this to a close.

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Jan 31, 2014

Hi veronika,

To respond to your email, yes I have receive your previous emails.

There is no question that you did break the rules - the maximum bet rule at the Vegas Partner Lounge group has been in place for longer than ThePOGG.com has been active and was certainly in place over the period of the disputed play, something that I can personally confirm as we monitor terms and conditions at several VPL venues.

[EDIT], it wasn't until you hit several sizable wins in close succession that your play was thoroughly examined. Further to this, as you were breaking the rules, confiscation of winnings generated through illegal play is the standard course of action throughout the industry so it's not even slightly surprising or unusual that Sun Vegas took the action they did. What makes this issue different is that you've been breaking this rule for some time.

The bottom line here is that this is not a one sided issue - it is unquestionably your responsibility to ensure you are familiar with the rules of play. Had you met that responsibility this whole situation could have been avoided.

Alongside this you had a few very sizable wins while playing without a bonus in amongst a large amount of play that violated rules. Those go a long way to distorting your short terms results to allow you to - at a casual glance - appear ahead of the casino.

While your Neteller logs do roughly establish that you have lost more than you've won over the history of your account - something that the account information that Sun Vegas has provided corroborates - they don't provide much else in the way useful information. Within the play history that I do have access to, there are clear examples where your play was not in violation of any rules, notably when you were playing without a bonus and that play cannot be contested.

My objective throughout this conversation has been to establish whether or not the terms have been enforced consistently (i.e. enforced on all violating play or not enforced on any violating play), whether consistent enforcement would make any difference to the end result and as such whether or not you or the casino ended up ahead over only the play where the rules were violated. Sun Vegas have been understandable reluctant to engage in this examination, though credit has to be given that they ultimately have. Simply put, it's a no win situation for them; if it was to come to light that they'd come out ahead they would be expected to refund the difference, but if it turned out that you were ahead I could not force you to return funds to them and it's utterly unrealistic to expect you to do that of your own free will. At that point the mediation immediately favors the player regardless of the outcome, which is neither fair nor desirable.

To try and redress that balance and make the process fairer overall I've released my findings alongside my recommendations to Sun Vegas first. When they've had time to review these and have an internal discussion, I'll then be able to comment more fully on this issue.

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Feb 12, 2014

I’m going to start this report off by saying how truly disappointed I am with Vegas Partner Lounge in this case. The vast majority of player complaints I deal with do not evoke any personal reaction from me, but in this instance their behaviour is so clearly out of sync with any form of fair play that I am genuinely angry.

I’m going to break this report down into two sections; my analysis of the play and the response I received from Vegas Partner Lounge when they were presented with the findings.

Analysis of Play;

It should be noted before I begin my analysis that the play history I was provided only began around the beginning of July 2013. I did request that Vegas Partner Lounge provide me with the play history for the full lifespan of the account and was informed that they only keep 6 months’ worth of play history themselves and that they would have to contact Microgaming to obtain the rest. Apparently Microgaming was unable to provide any older information. I do find this lack of player records very troublesome both as it directly impacts this case and the implications for any future case that involves a long period of play.

In this case the player did, and was for a good length of time, break bonus terms and conditions with their play at Sun Vegas. Their playing pattern was very straightforward; they deposited, received a bonus and bet the entire balance on one spin of the Roulette wheel and if a substantial win occurred, shifted to a higher contribution slots game with low wagers to grind out the remaining wagering requirement.

Looking at the game play history, this pattern of play does seem to have begun around the start of July 2013, where a shift occurred to primarily bonus play and non-bonus play becomes less and less frequent (though non-bonus play does occur infrequently until shortly before the end of the player’s activities).

While it was a time consuming job, I went through the history transaction by transaction removing play where no bonus was taken/rules were broken and looking at all play where the maximum wager term had been exceeded.

Maximum bet rules exist for the simple reason; A player can use bonuses to allow themself to gain an advantage over the house by placing large wagers to build up a balance or bust out quickly. In the long run this is a strategy that if allowed to continue will cost the casino money.

However, in this instance the results were stark – over all of the play that I was allowed to see where the player had violated the maximum bet term the player had deposited €13600 more than they’d withdrawn.*

Where a breach of terms is found to have occurred – meaning game terms and making no reference to illegal activity – it’s standard practice within the industry to consider that play and any winnings generated null and void, returning deposits from the affected play.

I also feel that it’s important to stress the fact that the player's betting style was the EXACTLY same both with and without bonuses. During the sessions where they played without a bonus they applied exactly the same strategy – making one large bet on Roulette with their entire balance straight off the bat and switching to a slots game if a large win occurred. This is strongly indicative that this was the player's preferred playing style rather than a engineered professional strategy.

The Response;

From the beginning, my priority in dealing with this case has been to thoroughly examine the player’s play history. Only by doing so could I establish what play was in violation of the rules and what wasn’t. This wasn’t as easy as it should have been – in a case like this where it’s not the final session of play from which the winnings were confiscated that’s the real issue but a long history of promotional violations, a full review of all play should have been the first task undertaken by the casino security department long before any complaint ended up at my door and it took me a substantial amount of effort to convince the casino to release any play information to me.

Throughout the early days of this issue Vegas Partner Lounge casino representatives consistently maintained that the player had ended up substantially ahead of the house and it was a sharp spike that lead to the security checks had been run that detected the issue. However when I eventually managed to get Sun Vegas to provide an account report, this claim was not supported by the figures. In all of the short term, medium term and lifetime of the account reports the player had lost to the casino high four to low five figures.

While Vegas Partners Lounge were prepared to engage with discussion of the issue I put this discrepancy down to a failure to have the figures in front of the representative at the time statements were made or erroneous conclusions based on some big positive swings in the short period before the issue came to a head.

Upon reviewing the figures detailed above*, I presented Vegas Partners Lounge with a number of options that would allow this issue to be fairly resolved;

1. Return the remainder of the confiscated win. This would have been the cheapest option for the casino and while there was a breach of terms and conditions would have resulted in a consistent application of the term across all affected play – i.e. the term would not be enforced.

2. Void all play where the term was broken, returning deposits. This would be substantially more expensive for the casino, but would again have resulted in the term being consistently applied across all play.

3. Refund the difference between deposits and withdrawals across the lifetime of the players account. This option would have been the most expensive for the casino and in my opinion would make little sense, though it would result in a situation as if the player had never signed up.

Any of the above actions would have allowed me to support Sun Vegas.

The following was the response received from Vegas Partners Lounge;

“I discussed this case with our Management team in great length and we still believe that we acted in a manner that was fair and just. You and I have gone over the merits of this case for weeks now but the crux of the matter for us, is that [EDIT] was in breach of our Terms and Conditions and we did not knowingly allow her to play in an abusive manner. Had we picked up the fraud earlier, we would have acted earlier. We cannot be held liable for any funds [EDIT] lost while trying to defraud us. Effectively the logic that is being employed by [EDIT] and yourself is that if crimes were committed or attempted, the person committing or attempting the crime should not be held liable if it goes unnoticed and further to this they should be reimbursed for any funds lost during their failed attempts to commit the crime.

We appreciate the time and effort you have put into mediating this case however we feel that the ruling is one-sided. We strongly believe that our actions were fair and that we have not broken any laws of our regulating bodies. For this reason, we would appreciate it if [EDIT] logs a formal complaint with our licensor the LGA (Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta). [EDIT] can submit her complaint by emailing, complaints[@]lga.org.mt. Should the LGA rule in favour of [EDIT], we will agree to any settlement they see fit.”

I have several major issues with this response that I will detail below;

1. Accusations of criminality – In the response both the words “fraud” and “crime” are used. This is a MASSIVE misrepresentation of the situation.

The definition of fraud is as follows (taken from google);

“wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain”

I’ve dealt with a large number of cases that involve potential fraud where documents appear to be tampered with or faked altogether and these cases absolutely qualify as “criminal deception”. The faking of government issued ID, bank statements or utility bills to try and convince a casino that you are someone you’re not is certainly “deception” and in the case of government issued ID most certainly “criminal”. Breaking a casino’s bonus terms is neither criminal, you couldn’t go to jail for it, nor deceptive. There was no action taken to hide the rule violations, they were plainly there for anybody who took the time to see.

It should also be noted that Sun Vegas – prior to this issue escalating to the point of the player seeking 3rd party intervention – were happy to keep the player’s account open. If the player’s actions are genuinely to be considered fraudulent and criminal what was Sun Vegas doing encouraging the player to re-engage with their services?

These accusations are hugely disproportionate to the issue at hand, absolutely unfounded and as such are a completely unprofessional way for a group with the exposure and experience of Vegas Partners Lounge to behave.

2. Double standards regarding responsibility – Vegas Partners Lounge state that they “did not knowingly” allow this play to continue while asserting that the player had responsibility for breaking the rules. While it is unquestionable that it is the player’s responsibility to ensure they are familiar with the terms and conditions and it’s fair to assume that every casino has its own internal policies regarding how and when play checks are conducted, it is ultimately the casino security department’s responsibility to ensure that terms and conditions are being adhered to. This wasn’t a short term oversight, the relevant play continued for months and affected well over a hundred deposits and bonuses. Alongside the length of time this went on for, several sizable wins were paid out despite the obvious breach of terms.

Yes the player is responsible for knowing the rules, but the casino is responsible for enforcing them. Bonus terms are by nature lengthy legal documents that it would be challenging for even those with the strongest memories to know by rote. By allowing this play to continue unchecked and paying out winnings when they occurred the casino gave the player no reason to question their play and in fact took ample action to reinforce the behaviour – if it’s been fine consistently before now, why would it be any different now?

I would stress that Sun Vegas are not solely at fault here, but neither is the player. In fact, in my opinion, fault is equally shared.

3. Inconsistent approach to review of play – Prior to the issue being brought to my attention, Sun Vegas had engaged in exactly the same review of play strategy that I attempted to engage in, that being establish which deposits were connected to bonus term violations and void those deposit (i.e. return them to the player less any winnings that were paid out in that period). The only difference between the review they conducted and the review I conducted was that they only looked at play (from what I can determine) between the end of August and October. This leads to the question, why was it correct to take that action for that period, but not over the entire affected play?

Simply put, given the information I have available, I can see no reasonable explanation for this approach other than self-interest – i.e. it would cost the casino more if they reviewed older play.

4. Accusations of lack of impartiality – The Sun Vegas response refers to my position as “one-sided”. In general I’m used to this accusation of lack of impartiality from players who I’ve ruled against - to their mind if I don't support them I must be bias towards the casino. It’s certainly not unusual when mediating disputes, though this is the first occasion where a casino has taken that position. To refute this though, I’ll point out that logically - if I was going to show bias - it would be in my favour to rule for the casino in this instance.

ThePOGG currently lists nearly 600 different casinos of which 2 out of every 3 are listed as either ‘Not Recommended’ or ‘Blacklisted’ (i.e. we don’t send players to them). When we can only actually work with and make money from 1 in 3 casinos, the incentive is readily apparent for me to conserve those venues that I can work with to provide visitors to my site as many options as possible. Sun Vegas are part of a group of 9 casinos. Removing them from the list of casinos we can work with reduces our options by almost 5%, a substantial loss of potential revenue stream.

It’s simply not in my best interests to show bias towards players in disputes as this would quickly result in a rapid reduction in the number of venues I could work with, a very limited revenue stream available to sustain this site and ultimately failure on a business level. Likewise it’s not in my best interest to favour casinos as players would quickly lose trust in the services that ThePOGG offers. As such I have to work very hard to retain impartiality and simply because my opinion as an independent observer does not coincided with what the casino wants doesn't strip me of that impartiality.

Conclusion

Yes the player has broken bonus rules and as such should not benefit from their play. That’s not what’s happened here though. Sun Vegas are looking to place the blame squarely at the door of the player - to the point where they are seizing deposits - but are refusing to take any responsibility for their own failure’s and the inconsistent messages that they’ve sent out throughout this sorry affair.

Inconsistently applied bonus terms are only one of the highly concerning behaviours displayed by Sun Vegas and while I certainly would not want to play down the player’s failures, the casino has come out dramatically financially ahead in this instance. They have substantially benefitted from play that should not have happened in the first place if the proper security checks had been carried out at reasonable intervals.

More worrying than all of this however is the fact that Vegas Partners Lounge do not seem to be able to differentiate between a player who has failed to adhere to promotional terms and a player that is engaged in criminal activity. This bears a striking resemblance to offline casinos who consider card counters to be cheating – this association is both erroneous and if asserted in the wrong way, legally dangerous (see Griffin Investigations legal issues that resulted in their bankruptcy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griffin_Investigations). There is a marked difference between breaking a casino rule and engaging in criminal activity.

Alongside the above baseless accusations, the assertion that the player was intentionally manipulating their system is in my opinion equally flawed. The players may have stumbled on a technique that would have allowed them to win in the long run, but the claims of intent (i.e. this player was specifically choosing a style of play contrary to bonus policy in an attempt to sneak money out of the casino) is totally contradicted by the size and frequencies of the bets places when the player could have no possible advantage (i.e. they were playing without a bonus). This player displayed exactly the same pattern of play regardless of whether or not they had received a bonus. While playing without a bonus this strategy breaches no terms and would ultimately result in the casino winning over the long term. Given the application of the same strategy to both bonus and non-bonus play there's simply no credible justification for asserting that the strategy was selected specifically because it broke bonus terms in a way that provided the player an advantage.

As such I cannot in good faith continue to recommend any players engaging with the Vegas Partner Lounge group and they will immediately be moved to ‘Not Recommended’ status.

veronika - Vegas Partners Lounge has asked me to direct you to submit a complaint with their regulator the LGA. You can find contact details for the LGA here - http://thepogg.com/regulator/lotteries-and-gaming-authority/. I'll be more than happy to assist you with your complaint if required.

ThePOGG

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