Real Time Gaming: Michael StawThis month GOM asks some tough questions to casino software providers Real Time Gaming, regarding the disappearance of some of their operators. Michael Staw answers what players want to know to put their minds and their wallets at ease.
GOM: You recently had to shut down two of your casino licensees (www.thecasinoonline.com and www.casinomerlin.com) because they were not paying their players. I was wondering if you could go into some detail as to what happened, and what action real time gaming took in order to intervene on the player’s behalf.
Staw: That is correct, we did have to shut down some licensees because of non-payment to the players. First of all what we did was we noticed that they were not paying their players, then we shut them down.
I want to be clear on that because in effect the situation was not paying and then the shut down, not the other way round. It did not happen that we shut them down and then, because they had no casino left they didn’t pay their players. We would not put the players at risk like that, it would not be a fair position for us to put the players in. When it became clear to us that these operations either could not, or had no intention of paying their players we step in and took away their ability to accept deposits from players. Since that time we have instituted a complaint form on our website where players can make claims for payouts that they were denied by those operations being out of business. We are working with either the former owners or with other operators to get those debts covered and satisfy the players. What we’ve done to try to eliminate this in future is institute new polices with regard to cash reserves that are required by operators. We are monitoring the operators more closely to make sure these things don’t happen again.
GOM: Who bills the client, who pays the client, and were are the cash reserves held?
Staw: The billing of the Client and internal finances between licensees and licensors I am not at liberty to discuss.
The responsibility of the payout to the customer is that of the operator himself, RTG is not involved with the processing of the licensees money in any way. RTG does not receive the credit card deposit, RTG does not send the credit cards deposits to the licensee RTG is not responsible for handling the money to pay the player. The players are either paid directly by the licensee, or in some cases licensees use third party payout services; some of which have been designed just for this purpose.
GOM: What is the vetting process used by RTG when accepting new licensees and why did it fail?
Staw: What I can tell you extensively about is the vetting process that we have going forward. We have instituted a new set of requirements to make sure that new licensees will be well funded and these requirements include funding or insurance they provide for guarantees by the operator. In case of default there is mechanisms to pay the players. This is something we are taking very seriously and we are trying to make sure it does not happen again. In the past the process was done through holding rolling reserve but the problem with that is that the rolling reserve can become inadequate when there are large charge backs. The mechanism that we had before, although it was well intentioned and it seemed to have enough money in it to pay the reserves to pay the players, caused problems when there are large charge backs. We have modified those formulas to better the situation.
GOM: If there is outstanding debt to the player at the end of this process is RTG going to fulfill that obligation?
Staw: RTG is going to continue to work for solutions for the player -that’s really the best statement I can make.
GOM: Why is it that several RTG’s licensees have this unique problem where other software vendor’s licensees are not necessarily getting hit with the charge backs and rolling reserve problem that your clients had?
Staw: That’s a very good question. The primary factor in these licensees going down was with the failure of one of the credit cards processors. The problem with this company was that we were the first software vendor to incorporate their credit card processing. So when they went under, only our licensees where hit, and there were a number of licensees who had a very high balance that was held by the processor that never got paid to them. This really started the snowball effect since they were already tight on cash because they never received the player deposits.
GOM: What process do you have implemented so you don’t have this problem again?
Staw: Okay, first of all we have worked with the credit card companies to set aside a reserve fund to assign a certain portion of the rolling reserve. The second thing is that our licensee casino’s now use more than one credit card processor so that they don’t have all their eggs in one basket.
GOM: Tell me how should players with concerns contact you?
Staw: There is a section on the web site called www.players.realtimegaming.com, which has a dispute form as well a contact email. They should use that. We will soon be enhancing that web site with more communication features.