RTG: 'No Flaws in Caribbean 21'

23 February 2004

Software provider Real Time Gaming (RTG) has advised its licensees to bring its Caribbean 21 game back online after the company took it down in early January for an extensive analysis. The company was concerned that there may have been a flaw in the relatively new game because some players were able to amass very large winnings.

One player in particular had compiled winnings totaling $1.3 million at Hampton's online casino and tens of thousands of dollars at a few others. Hampton's froze the player's account after he raised $1.3 million on Caribbean 21, and the rest of RTG's licensees eventually followed suit. They are now denying the player his winnings, evidently on the grounds that he cheated by using a bot.

Before his huge run at Hampton's, the player had experienced much success on Caribbean 21 and other gaming sites. He apparently acquired such a large sum by convincing Hampton's to raise his minimum and maximum bets beyond the default limits of the software.

After the gaming session that earned the player a balance of $1.3 million, the game was taken offline for evaluation.

Afraid that he would never receive payment, the player sought help from Bryan Bailey, whose Casinomeister.com Web site proclaims itself as a casino watchdog and player advocate. Bailey started a thread in the Casinomeister forum asking whether other players knew anything about the disappearance of Caribbean 21 from RTG-powered casinos. He later posted a message stating that he had looked into the matter and discovered that the game was being reviewed for errors because one player had made a tremendous amount of money. After a message board reader asked how much the player won, a poster using the handle Pirateofc21 emerged, claiming to be the man who "rocked the quiet waters of certain RTG ports in my search for treasure." He then made several boastful posts that seem to have complicated matters because of their language that is full of what Bailey calls "cryptic" allusions.

At the end of January, Hampton's manager Ron Lewin called the player to have a conversation that was taped by both of them and later posted across a few gaming forums. Lewin accused the player of cheating by using some sort of software application or robot to play the game for him. Lewin claimed that Hampton's systems discovered that the player was using a bot by analyzing the movements of the player's mouse.

The player eventually admitted to using a program to assist his play, and now Hampton's has locked his account and refused payments, presumably because the player committed fraudulent acts in violation of their terms and conditions.

The player's accounts at other RTG licensees were also frozen, and he stopped receiving payments on his winnings. The player now claims that he did not really use a bot to play, but admitted doing so to Lewin to bait him into revealing more information.

A few days ago, RTG's director of engineering, Michael McMain, emerged on the Casinomeister forum and stated that after spending nearly 500 man hours studying the game, the RTG found that the game is in fact "statistically accurate." He stated that "we have concluded that this game is a fair expectation of a casino game for both the casino and the player (assuming that players understand that all games are ultimately balanced in favor of the casino)."

In response to reader questions, McMain also stated that a robot player is not capable of creating a positive expectation for the a player, meaning that even a computer-simulated player who makes the best decision every moment is still bound due lose to the casino. McMain added that the software evaluation revealed that the Caribbean 21 system had not been compromised in any way, and the player could not have won by hacking into the system. He also said that tests were not performed to detect whether a bot had been used by the player, so the company could therefore not definitively say whether or not one had been used. McMain did, however, reveal that RTG software cannot analyze the movements of a player's mouse, contrary to what Hampton's had told the player.

RTG isn't commenting on anything more than the status of the Caribbean 21 software for now, but a representative from the company confirmed to IGN that it was McMain who commented on the Casinomeister forum. The representative also said the company will probably issue a statement soon.

The player has been advised by his legal counsel to remain silent on the issue as well, and Hampton's was unreachable for comment. The player's account are still closed.

Bradley Vallerius

Articles by Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials. Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Website