With over 4,000 casinos to choose from, the online gambling market can feel a bit like the Hunger Games. Yes, it appears as if operators from all over the world battle it out on a daily basis to win the ultimate prize—your attention. Their weapon of choice remains the irresistible allure of lucrative bonuses, attractive promotions, and of course, the potential to win big.
From free spins to cash payouts and more, bonuses are designed to encourage players to extend their playtime and continue betting. Most sign-up bonuses allow players to place wagers without putting any of their personal funds at risk. This provides players with the opportunity to experiment with the casino’s different gaming offerings while trying out new strategies. As such, bonuses are mutually beneficial for both parties, as casinos gain a new user while players get to enhance their overall gambling experience.
However, with all the good comes, unfortunately, the bad, as this timeless marketing ploy has unknowingly paved the way for cybercriminals to take advantage of online casinos’ generosity, unleashing a dangerous precedent known as bonus abuse. While this new phenomenon comes in various forms, the most common iteration is when players create multiple accounts using different identities to claim the same bonus over and over again.
In an ideal world, players would read all the T&Cs and follow them. But, unfortunately, the reality is far from ideal, thus the need for providers to detect any suspicious activity and flag it up when in doubt.
What is Bonus Abuse?
Bonus abuse occurs when fraudsters exploit an online casino bonus or promotion for personal gain. They will typically seek out casinos that offer generous bonuses with favorable terms and low wagering requirements. Then, they will sign up for the casino, claim the bonus, and immediately withdraw the funds, effectively profiting without investing any money into the casino. More often than not, this is carried out by a large group of cybercriminals who rely on stolen IDs, prepaid credit cards, and synthetic identities to bypass the KYC checks and successfully open multiple accounts. While the act of multi-accounting is by far the most popular form of fraud, casinos must also be aware of other types, which include:
Arbitrage betting is when fraudsters place opposing bets on different outcomes of the same event, increasing their odds of winning. This is generally reserved for sports betting and is done at multiple betting firms to guarantee a profitable outcome regardless of the results. Some fraudsters go so far as to even automate this practice by employing the use of bots to place numerous small wagers.
Also known as collusion, collusive play is a form of fraud that involves a group of cybercriminals working together to control multiple players in order to gain an unfair advantage or manipulate the outcome of a game in their favor.
Similar to the above technique, chip dumping occurs when a poker player intentionally loses their chips to another player to manipulate the outcome of a hand, allowing the recipient player to accumulate a large stack of chips. This unethical practice is typically employed during tournaments; however, most poker platforms have strict measures in place to detect and prevent the act from occurring.
Battling Bonus Fraud
Unfortunately, as the popularity of the online gambling industry continues to soar, so does the influx of fraudulent activity. As such, it is now more imperative than ever that operators implement practices to detect suspicious activity, removing the threat before it’s too late. Some operators have gone so far as to stop offering deposit bonuses altogether, leaving them at a disadvantage compared to other operators who may offer this type of promotion. In fact, this course of action was echoed in the recently published UK Gambling White Paper, which set out new proposals to tackle bonus abuse as well as other fraudulent activities by putting a stop to attractive promotional offers such as no-deposit bonuses and free spins.
There has also been a shift towards loyalty bonuses, as opposed to sign-up bonuses, in an attempt to mitigate the ongoing bonus abuse epidemic. However, this is far from ideal as it risks discouraging casual gamblers from signing up for specific platforms. We are also witnessing many operators rely on profiling tools that flag unethical behavior and place restrictions on suspicious accounts. KYC, AML, and IDnow have all proven to be successful in helping to prevent fraud by employing financial risk checks, age verification, and more, allowing casinos to remain compliant.
Besides incorporating biometric tools, operators must also work together to spread awareness about the consequences of bonus abuse. This is an issue that impacts all gambling platforms, and as such, it’s important to share the best practices for keeping fraudsters away to continue to safeguard the industry.
Marketing Director and Editor at nodeposithero.com, John Holmes has been part of the exciting world of online gambling for two decades now. His undying passion for the industry is owed to the fact that there has never really a dull moment. When he’s not leading his team of marketing experts, you’ll find him ensuring that Content QA standards are consistent and up to his strict standards across the board. In his free time – which is very rare – he likes travelling anywhere and everywhere, whether it’s in Costa Rica itself (where he’s currently based), the rest of Central America or even some quaint, little European town he would have read or heard about.