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Game-Protect – Lazy and sensationalist approach does more harm than good

Posted by THEPOGG on Jan 16, 2019

“Players, operator, regulators and affiliates should be very cautious when interacting with Game-Protect as you cannot guarantee that what you say to them will be reported as you said it.”

Language is a funny thing. Say the same words, but place different emphasis and the words can take on a radically different meaning. Take this sentence:

I never said you stole my money.

Repeat this sentence seven times but each time place the emphasis on a different word and you’ll get several entirely different meanings:

  • I never said you stole my money – I didn’t say it but I’m implying someone else may have.
  • I never said you stole my money – I am strongly objecting to the implication I accused you of stealing.
  • I never said you stole my money – I may not have said it, but I imply that I think it.
  • I never said you stole my money – I am not accusing you, but someone else has stolen my money.
  • I never said you stole my money – I don’t think you stole my money, but you did do something with it.
  • I never said you stole my money – You didn’t steal my money but I suggest you may have stolen someone else’s.
  • I never said you stole my money – You didn’t steal my money, but you have stolen something else.

The same seven words in the same order and simply by changing which word is emphasised the meaning is changed entirely.

Recently we have been exposed to the poor practices of another site – Game-Protect.com – specifically relating to their use, or rather mis-use, of language.

There’s a significant background to this interaction but for the most part it is not particularly relevant to the point of this article (a fairly petty he said/she said type squabble). I’ll include some details regarding that history in the hidden section below for those who are interested. For everyone else, suffice it to say that a player who was unhappy with the outcome of a complaint they submitted to this service (despite having the complaint ruled in their favour) was facilitated and supported by Game-Protect in posting an article calling into question our integrity via an article posted on the Game-Protect site.

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History of the GameBet issue

The complaint in question is this one – https://thepogg.com/complaint/gamebet-complaint/

This player complained about GameBet, who reportedly had refused to pay them based on terms prohibiting arbitrage betting. As GameBet have done previously they offered no response to our repeated efforts to contact them.

GameBet’s failure to respond resulted in the complaint being closed in favour of the player. As with all complaint situations there is no legal or regulatory impediment to the operator discussing a complaint issue with a dispute mediation service as long as they put in place legally appropriate data management policies. Where an operator choses not to engage this is, self-evidently, a choice. Where one party creates a barrier to reviewing a complaint appropriately the complaint is automatically found against the part who creates the barrier. In this instance the ruling in favour of the player is based on the fact that we are only left with the player’s account of events to base any conclusions on as the operator has opted out. That being the case the ruling is more a reflective response to what we view as the operator’s poor practice than it is a true assessment of our position on the case as we simply do not have enough evidence to draw any valid conclusions.

During this period the player had also submitted their complaint to the Malta Gaming Authority. The MGA reportedly ruled in favour of the operator. And here’s where the situation began to deteriorate. It is at this point that the player become dissatisfied with our ruling in their favour and want us to go further and downgrade the MGA as a regulator. When we refuse the player would not accept our position and started a campaign of emails over the next six months to try and pressure us into changing our response.

So why wouldn’t we downgrade the MGA on the back of this case? The reason is very straightforward – the MGA do not have the option to present their side of the story. GameBet had the choice to discuss this issue with us. They chose not to do so. Any information that the regulator has based a decision on has been provided by the operator. The operator would not share the relevant data with this service directly so it seems fair to conclude that the operator are not going to provide the regulator permission to share the relevant data on their behalf. Without the permission of the operator the regulator would potentially be in breach of a host of privacy laws and contracts if they shared information with us.

How are we meant to draw a legitimate conclusion about the MGA’s actions in this case if the MGA cannot provide the information necessary to justify their position? The answer is we cannot. To do so would be to assume the player is right and the regulator wrong. Without having the facts available to us we won’t take any position on the validity of the player’s claim.

This was explained clearly to the player but despite a significant number of hours being invested in going over and over this with the player, a six month long parade of emails from the player began. Eventually the player started to try to create conflict between ourselves and Game-Protect, who were apparently more sympathetic to their claims, which resulted in us sending the following email:

Despite being banned from the site the player continued to email and once again engaged in practices that were unquestionably intended to antagonise and cause conflict between ourselves and Game-Protect so we informed the player that we would now be filtering their email address so their emails were simply deleted without ever being seen.

Three days after informing the player of this, ahrefs.com picked up a new backlink to us coming from the Game-Protect site.

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When this post went live, rather than respond publicly I chose to email Game-Protect directly to make clear our views on their actions. Their motivation for this post on their site appears to be that they do not like our handling of a case a couple of years ago rather than that they have any actual issue with our management of this player’s case. If you’d like more information on the history of the case Game-Protect has an issue with, I’ll again include this in another collapsible section as again, it does not have any particular bearing on the subject of this article:

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History of the Betsoft issue

The case in question is this one – https://thepogg.com/complaint/betcoin-ag-progressive-jackpot-was-not-paid-for-winning-spin/

The player played the Glam Life slots game and hit a combination during free spins that by the paytable would have triggered the progressive jackpot to be paid. The progressive jackpot was not paid.

Betsoft’s position on this was that the progressive jackpot could not be won during free spins. If this was how the game was intended to function – which seems likely given that the jackpot wasn’t paid then voided – players were not informed of this in the paytable.

We spoke to Betsoft about the issue, who did not receive our intervention particularly warmly, and they ultimately decided to interact with the player directly and offer the player a settlement agreement (we were not at the time aware of what this settlement was, only that one was offered).

The player chose to accept this settlement. At this juncture, as a settlement had been offered and the player had agreed to it, our involvement in the issue ended.

And this appears to be the crux of Game-Protect’s issue – they feel that the settlement offered was unfair and the case should not be marked as ‘Resolved’.

That may or may not be the case – we offer no opinion on the fairness of the settlement what-so-ever. The player approached us with an issue, we contacted the relevant parties and a settlement was reached that both parties agreed to.

If the player was unhappy with the settlement offered they were free to decline it. Had they, our approach may have differed and we likely would have offered opinion on the offer. As such the status of the complaint report may have been different. However, had they declined the offer it is our opinion that the player would have received no payment what-so ever.

We entirely agree that the player is in a disadvantaged position in this situation – the likelihood of them pursuing any successful legal action is minimum, regulators in question his highly unlikely to support the player and there is no other party with any leverage. They effectively have the choice of accepting what was offered or getting nothing. However, given that we were a key party involved in the getting any agreement or payment put in place, after the player has entered the agreement for us to facilitated their breaching that agreement would be acting in extremely bad faith. If the player wants to risk the consequences of breaching the settlement agreement that is entirely their choice, but this has to be done via services other than the one that facilitated the settlement.

Game-Protect have looked to call us out over this issue but we ask the question, how has their approach to the management of this issue improved the player’s situation any? Our efforts resulted in the player receiving a five figure payout. Can Game-Protect make an equal claim?

In our opinion, to validate their own worthiness, Game-Protect are looking to go further than anyone else. In fairness I’m sure some parties would level this same statement at us with regard to other issues. However in this case Game-Protect has had to reach so far to find fault that they have to refuse to acknowledge that we ensured that the player was significantly enriched by our actions and that had we taken the position they advocate the player would have been left significantly poorer.

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This email is where the problems occurred. At the end of the email I made clear to Game-Protect that they were free to publish any or all of the email sent to them. They did not response to us directly and instead chose to simply tag on our email on to their article. That would not be problematic at all if the email had been published in its original form. Instead of publishing the email as it was sent to them Game-Protect chose to alter the formatting of the email and published their edited version, removing the emphasis we placed and adding their own to the point that we assume they feel is most relevant.

You can see the email as it was written here:

https://thepogg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/game-protect-email-2.jpg

and as published on the Game-Protect site here

https://thepogg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/game-protect-1.jpg

The Game-Protect version has removed the emphasis from the fact that we ruled in favour of the player, from the legal restrictions that the MGA would be subject to and from our position on the Betsoft case. They’ve then added emphasis to what we can only assume Game-Protect feel is a flaw in our approach to the management of the Betsoft complaint.

Game-Protect are absolutely entitled to publish commentary with their thoughts regarding our email, but when they publish our email as a “statement” and edit it to align more closely with their own agenda and the narrative they want their users to accept they’ve crossed an ethical line. They are by the best possible interpretation engaged in lazy journalism and at worst are specifically manipulating information with the intent to misrepresent what was said, or more specifically the way it was said, to their readership.

In our opinion the firebrand approach that Game-Protect takes across the different issues they cover, however well intentioned, potentially cause more harm than they do good and for the most part simply serves to sensationalise issues. Game-Protect seem to consistently advocate players take extreme positions that are very unlikely to actually result in the players who have been negatively impacted by the situation get any redress.

The Betsoft issue that Game-Protect have chosen to critique our management of is case in point. Our approach returned a 5 figure sum to the player. To our knowledge Game-Protect have not managed to return a single penny to that player. Despite our actions actually getting money returned to the player, we apparently fail to meet their high standards.

The same can be seen in their approach to the Curacao regulators, wherein they recommend that “Players can demand losses back, because illegal casinos are not allowed by laws to keep the loot.” We’d be the first to say that historically the Curacao Master License scheme has been the fig leaf hiding the truth that operators licensed in this jurisdiction by-and-large are high risk to players, but the Curacao government have had two decades to do something about the firms involved if they didn’t like what’s been going on and no action appears to have been taken. More than this, while these Master License holders do not set the standards we’d like to see their licensees subjected to, we have had success working through some of the Curacao Master License holder in getting money returned to players (in one particularly notable case in the last 12 months a mid-5 figure sum was returned to a player after our work with Gaming Curacao – https://thepogg.com/complaint/casino-superlines-the-operator-allows-you-to-deposit-and-play-during-this-period-for-which-your-account-would-be-suspended/). It would be interesting to know how much players have actually had returned when following Game-Protect’s advice to “demand losses back”. We would suspect not much. It seem fairly likely that a player demanding that a Curacao licensed operator return funds based on nothing more than where they hold their license is likely to get dismissed out of hand and consequentially the operator may end up ignoring other issues in a jurisdiction where the player has few other (realistic) options.

While I’d be confident that this strategy of advocating extreme actions and positions will resonate strongly with a certain type of reader and will pull in traffic for Game-Protect, I personally would have significant doubts about whether pursuing the course of action that Game-Protect suggest in these situations would be in the best interests of the players in question.

At the end of the day this wasn’t an article that I or we as a site wanted to publish. While we may not agree with the approaches that Game-Protect choose to take, I personally would prefer to leave them to it as long as the underlying intent behind their actions are positive (and protecting players is something close to my heart). But the disingenuous practices being engaged by this service have left us little other recourse. When you quote another party it has to be exact, not edited to fit the narrative that you wish to put over. In doing this they demonstrate a willingness to misrepresent the facts to pursue their own agenda. Actions like this are amateurish in nature, show a complete lack of journalistic integrity and entirely undermine the credibility of the information they put out.

Our advice to players, operator, regulators and affiliates would be to be very cautious when interacting with Game-Protect as you cannot guarantee that what you say to them will be reported as you said it. We specifically will not engage in any further direct interaction with this service for this reason.

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