Online Gambling Player Collusion

Online casinos may have up to several billions of dollars of currency flowing through them at any time. The digital nature of online casinos makes them less susceptible to outright theft, but it can make them more susceptible to certain types of fraud. When players are physically present in a traditional casino, their actions and behaviors can be more closely monitored. In the digital world, however, it is more difficult to monitor some actions and behaviors. This makes it easier for online players to use certain practices to defraud the casino. Player collusion is one of these practices. Here is an overview of online gambling player collusion; what it is, how it occurs and what can be done about it.

What is Online Gambling Player Collusion?

While there is certainly an element of chance to most card games, the random element of most card games can be significantly reduced by two or more players working together. There are only so many cards in a deck, so when players know what cards are held by other players as well as a certain number of cards held by a dealer, it cuts down significantly on the number of potential outcomes. In addition, aside from just winning and losing certain hands, there are also other ways in which players can benefit from collusion. Ultimately, player collusion is two or more players working together to try and either defraud the system or defraud other players.

Self Collusion

Collusion in online gambling does not actually require multiple players. Self collusion can occur by one person opening multiple accounts and playing them all at the same time. This results in the same outcomes as multiple players working together to rig the game.

How Does Player Collusion Work?

There are actually several reasons players might collude together aside from just winning the game. In essence, however, players communicate with each other to determine who has the best hand or what cards are still available after the cards they are holding have been discounted. Obviously, the more players you collude with, the more it narrows down other options. For instance, there are 52 cards in a deck but only 4 of each type of card. If players who are colluding with each other are in possession of four kings or four aces between them, then they know there are no more aces or kings in the deck. Similarly, if they are in possession of three of any type of card, then they know there is no hope of any other player having a pair of those cards. By working together and "comparing notes" they significantly reduce the number of potential outcomes of any hand.

Common Reasons For Player Collusion

Aside from just winning at poker or other card games like 21, there are also other reasons for player collusion and ways to benefit from it. Here are some other reasons for player collusion.

  • Money laundering: Most governments have stringent rules and regulations in place to monitor income from illegal activities. In the U.S. for instance, banks must report any deposit made in excess of $10,000. Once a deposit of that amount is made, it raises red flags and the source of the money is called into question. At that point, the owner of the money needs to be able to prove that it came from a legitimate source. Gambling income is considered a legitimate source of income, so casinos are regularly used for money laundering. This is the practice of taking "dirty" money that was gained through illegal enterprises and turning it into money that appears to be legitimately earned. One way to launder money is through a practice called "chip dumping," which is a form of collusion. In chip dumping, several players all purposefully lose to one player or "dump" their chips on that player. That player can then cash out and all of their winnings appear to be monies that were legitimately earned.
  • Tournament play: Collusion can also be used to affect tournament play. There are several methods of affecting tournament play through collusion, which can include chip dumping or the sharing of hole cards. In addition, however, even online poker is still very much a psychological game, so collusion can also be used as a means of throwing another player or players off balance or of toying with them psychologically.
  • Bonus fraud: Like most businesses, casinos will often offer generous signup bonuses and other bonuses to encourage play in their casino. Most of these bonuses come with rollover requirements, which require players to bet a certain amount of the bonus or a certain number of times before they can withdraw the bonus amount. For instance, a 3X rollover requirement would require them to bet the entire amount of the bonus at least three times before they can withdraw the bonus amount. Player collusion allows players to simply "lose" to each other in order to meet the rollover requirements. Once the requirements have been met, they can withdraw their initial stake plus the bonus and in some cases even sign up for a new account and start the process all over again.

Online Gambling Player Collusion Detection and Prevention

Most casinos have state-of-the-art fraud detection software in place that can detect certain practices that alert fraud experts to potential collusion. The experts can then review the entire game, including which hands were thrown. Since online games are essentially video games, fraud experts can review what cards each player was holding during every step of the game, including hands they were holding when they folded or went all-in. They can also review previous games where the same two players played with or against each other. While these methods are becoming less secure thanks to the rise in ways in which players can maintain anonymity and even create multiple accounts, they are still effective tools for the majority of instances of player collusion. In addition, other players are also encouraged to report any suspicious activity or instances where they believe player collusion may have been occurring.

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