Casino Extreme: A Review from a Player
FROM ET FAN:
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Casino Extreme: Unethical Behavior?By Ihate16
(From Blackjack Forum XXVI #4, Fall 2006)
ã Blackjack Forum Online 2006
"What separates the winners from the losers [among online casino players] is one simple but powerful strategy the winners apply: they read the terms and conditions." (Arnold Snyder, How to Win in Internet Casinos and Poker Rooms,
This is the single most important piece of advice for anyone who gambles in an online casino; in the six months I've been playing online so far, this advice has served me very well.
My experience has generally been that if you play and win, you can be certain the casino will pay your winnings. If you receive a bonus, the casino will enforce the terms and conditions (for example, if you haven't fulfilled the wagering requirement yet they will require you to complete it before you can withdraw), but will then pay your winnings, and will not try to find weasel-words in their terms and conditions (T&C) to excuse cheating you out of them. I know there are many casinos out there who behave much less honestly, but of the ones I tried—limiting myself to those recommended by Blackjack Forum Online—my experience has been good.
There is, however, one important exception: Casino Extreme. With them, reading the T&C is not enough; in my experience, they're not going to hold you to the plain meaning of the words in their T&C, but to any interpretation they can find that will give them an excuse not to pay your winnings.
Casino Extreme has several clauses in their T&C stating: "Players from [certain countries] are excluded from any and all promotional/bonus money/cashback casino offers." Which raises the question: what does "players from these countries" mean? If you live in one of the listed countries, then presumably you are excluded from receiving bonuses at Casino Extreme, but what if you lived in one of these countries 20 years ago, but have emmigrated and now live in the U.S. and are a U.S. citizen? That, in fact, is my situation; does this clause apply to me?
When I first read Casino Extreme's T&C, I was not worried about this clause, since I assumed it would not apply to me as a citizen and resident of the U.S. There was other language in their T&C that I found scary; especially the clause that "The Casino management will review ALL play and make player classifications at their discretion. Once an account is classified as "Bonus Hunter" or "Bonus Abuser", all winnings and bonuses will be voided and original deposits returned to player account for the player to gamble with or withdraw"; in this clause, I worried that they might be giving themselves the license to arbitrarily deny winnings any time a player wins. Casino Extreme is one of the very few casinos whose T&C contains such language; most casinos state in their T&C that players classified as "bonus abusers" will be denied future bonuses, and perhaps have their bonus reversed, but do not allow themselves to reverse past winnings.
Still, Casino Extreme's bonuses, both the sign-up bonus and the continuing bonuses mentioned at Blackjack Forum Online, were extremely tempting, and, as a recreational player, I didn't have serious worry about any "bonus abuser" clause. So I signed up, deposited $200, received a $200 bonus, and promptly lost $400 in a few minutes.
After that, I occasionally received emails from Casino Extreme about their continuing bonuses. I deposited and played a few more times, losing my entire deposit and bonus each time. Finally my luck turned, as I knew it would eventually, and on one of their bonuses I managed to win enough make up for the losses and put me at a net win. The first time I won and made a withdrawal, I got the withdrawal quickly and with no problems.
I then lost my next two deposits, putting me at almost even in my total play with Casino Extreme. Then I got a lucky streak on one more session, again managed to make a big win, and tried to withdraw my deposit and winnings. That's when the trouble started.
One annoying practice of Casino Extreme is that, unlike other casinos, you cannot withdraw your money simply by making a withdrawal on the casino software; instead, after you make the withdrawal, you need to then call customer support and ask for the pending withdrawal to be processed. In my first withdrawal, I got my money back into my Neteller account within an hour of making the call; and my understanding from Blackjack Forum is that this is what usually happens.
For my second withdrawal, however, when I called Casino Extreme to ask them to process the withdrawal, I was told that before they could process it they would need faxback forms, with copies of a picture ID and a recent utility bill. After I filled out the faxback forms, and faxed them in with copies of my driver's license and electric bill, I waited for their response, until, a week later, I got an email saying that the driver's license fax was unclear and I needed to resend all the forms. I sent the forms and documents again, waited another week, and finally received another email saying my faxback forms had been approved.
I then called Casino Extreme, asking them again to process my pending withdrawal. A couple of hours later, I received an email saying my withdrawal had been denied. When I called customer support again to ask what the problem was, they told me that they had investigated my ID, and found that I was an immigrant from one of the excluded countries, and that therefore they had reversed my winnings and were going to refund my original deposit amount.
What lesson should others take from this? Obviously, most people who play at Casino Extreme will not be immigrants, so Casino Extreme won't be able to use the same excuse to cheat them that they used for me. But I am sure there are other clauses in their T&C that they could find some way to twist, in ways that haven't occured to me and that won't occur to you, as an excuse to refuse to pay you your winnings in case you win. And failing that, they can always fall back on "we've decided you're a bonus abuser".
More generally, there are very few casinos (at least among those recommended by Blackjack Forum Online) that declare in their T&C that they allow themselves to reverse a player's winnings. I would avoid all such casinos. Depositing money into any of these casinos gives the casino a free shot at your money; if you lose, they get your money, while if you win, they will find some unexpected way to interpret the T&C in a way that excuses reversing your winnings and returning only your original deposit.
Fortunately for me, they only found out about my country of origin on my second win, rather than on the first one, and the one win I did get paid for was enough that I have not actually lost money from my total plays at Casino Extreme. But given their policy, someone else could easily end up losing money.
I understand that many players have won at Casino Extreme and been paid. But the possibility is always there, and there's no predicting when Casino Extreme will feel like using it. ♠
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