Resolving disputes with an online casino
Last update: October 2020
Chances are you're reading this because you didn't pick the best casino. You almost certainly didn't choose the only one I recommend, Bovada, because complaints about them are exceedingly rare. The takeaway here is: be careful which casino you choose next time. It's a hell of a lot easier to avoid picking a bad casino in the first place than to try to get your money back once it's already gone. You may yet be able to recover your money, but whether you can or not, you'll know to be more careful the next time you pick a casino.
Of course, whether you picked a good or bad casino, right now you're interested in resolving your dispute. Your complaint probably falls into one of these areas:
- You think the casino's games are fixed.
- You didn't get a bonus you expected.
- You tried to make a withdrawal but the casino won't pay you.
Let's go ever each of these.
You think the casino's games are fixed
It's highly unlikely that the casino is cheating unless you're dealing with one of the rare casinos that has a history of cheating. (See the Casinomeisters' list.) Most casinos realize that cheating is counterproductive, because it would ensure they never got any repeat business — not to mention that getting a bad reputation in this business is the kiss of death. A casino winds up making less money if it cheats, so cheating is rare.
Also, almost all online casinos run software from one of about a dozen reputable providers. The software controls the game, so it would be hard for the casino to fix the game even if they wanted to.
Finally, remember that the casino has no need to cheat. The odds are already against you. If you're the kind of player who plays until your whole deposit is gone (and most players are), then fixing the games is pointless: the casino will get all your money sooner or later anyway.
Nevertheless, if you're convinced that a casino is cheating, then send me detailed records of your play and I'll try to see if anything looks amiss. Detailed records means the cards that were dealt, dice that were rolled, or roulette numbers that hit for at least a hundred rounds. If you merely tell me how much money you lost, or how many hands you lost I won't be able to help you.
You didn't get a bonus you expected
Many online casinos make the bonuses really difficult to qualify for. Usually you have to gamble a minimum amount of money, and often certain games don't count towards the play requirement. For example, at Captain Cooks they ignore play on just about everything — Roulette, Craps, Baccarat, SicBo, Video Poker, and Blackjack. (Gee, what else is left?) Even my favorite casino, Bovada, excludes Craps at the time of this writing.
So the first thing is to read the fine print on the casino's website and determine whether you really did qualify for the bonus. If you think you did, write to the casino and ask them why you didn't, quoting the terms of their bonus offer back to them. If they still disagree, then see the section below about resolving disputes.
You tried to make a withdrawal but the casino won't pay you
This is probably the most common complaint against an online casino. The problem is exacerbated by the facts that the casino's bank is located offshore and U.S. banks don't want to deal with online casinos. If the casino mails you a check then you have to wait for an international mailing.
If at all possible, you should open a Bitcoin account and request withdrawals that way. Bitcoin is easier (and faster) for the casino to deal with.
Otherwise, if you're in the U.S. and refuse to cash out via Bitcoin, then be prepared to wait a while to receive your payout. Due to a complicated legal climate, casinos have a hard time finding banks and payment processors that will handle payouts for U.S. players. It could be as long as six weeks.
Let's say you've read the above, you've written to the casino without success, and you've waited a reasonable amount of time for the issue to be resolved, and it hasn't been. Now what do you do?
If your problem is with the Bovada casino, then I want to know about it. (Casino only, not their sportsbook, because I don't advertise their sports operation.) While, I can't resolve your issue, I want to know if the casino I'm advertising has taken a turn for the worse. As I write this, it's been many years since a reader told me of a problem with Bovada.
If the casino is licensed, try writing to the licensing authority. Most good casinos are licensed in the area they do business, and the licensing authority hears complaints about casinos they license. But if you're in the U.S. playing at a casino that serves the whole U.S., then forget it, because no U.S.-wide casinos are licensed, because no licensing authority will touch a U.S.-wide casino, because online gambling isn't explicitly legal in the whole U.S. (It's not explicitly illegal, either, but the gray area means that licensing bodies won't deal with U.S.-wide casinos.)