This story was published more than 7 years ago.
We were very interested last year when we learned that Playtech’s Gold Rally Jackpot had finally gone off after a long period of increase, awarding $6.34 million (or €4.7m / £3.9m) to a lucky player on November 30, 2013. This was well above the average win on the jackpot which sits at around $730,000 (not including this large outlier) and Playtech's 2nd largest jackpot payout ever. The win therefore had the makings of a spectacular story... or so we thought.
Casino jackpot wins are some of the most popular stories that we get to cover at Casino Listings, as punters are eager to hear about the successes of their fellow players and marvel at the glory of a big hit. Online casinos and software developers are equally interested in sharing these stories, as they help promote popular games or individual casinos that are otherwise little different from hundreds of others as "hot spots" to cash in big.
The big win prompted a report here at Casino Listings and discussion on other forums, but to this day neither Playtech nor the casino that hosted the massive win has released a blip of publicity regarding the hit. Playtech's official PR has not mentioned this jackpot, despite trumpeting smaller wins on Beach Life and Gladiator both before and after this win. Its official jackpot network website WinAJackpot has remained completely mum on anybody winning this staggering jackpot and it is not included on the site's list of biggest jackpot wins. This is strange and mysterious, not to mention concerning, given the history of a couple of jackpot winners that have been outright ripped off by casinos running Playtech jackpot games.
On August 22, 2008, a Canadian woman named Sylvia won a staggering $4,188,719 while playing the video slot Beach Life at the Playtech powered Joyland Casino. After she unsuccessfully tried to withdraw her money, Joyland pointed to their T&Cs, revealing that the sum would be paid out at only $9,000 per month, an instalment plan that would take 39 years to complete, with no interest applied to the payments. Distraught, she was strong armed by a casino representative that communicated with her via an anonymous Hotmail address into accepting a flat cash payment of half the jackpot win, with the rest "disappearing". To this day, many Playtech powered online casinos still include such a clause in their terms and conditions, and specifically state that progressive jackpot wins are included in their instalment plan scenarios. This is even more unconscionable when you consider the fact that the casino receives the entire jackpot amount from Playtech before they start drip-feeding it to the player.
Sadly that was not the only incident that has tarnished the reputation of a Playtech powered casino at which a punter was (un)fortunate enough to win a major progressive jackpot. In November 2008, South African woman Marie Van Wyk won a multi-million rand jackpot, only to see the African Palace casino partially pay the sum before deliberately reneging on the rest. The casino owner even had the gall to taunt Ms Van Wyk, encouraging her to contact the authorities, whom he predicted would do nothing due to the casino's setup using Curacao-based shell corporations. Sadly he was right. This account was widely publicised, with South African television current affairs show Carte Blanche running a story on the issue. African Palace Casino is still in operation today, reeling in unsuspecting punters that are unaware of its criminal past.
With such a chequered history, it is no surprise then that we are wary of what has become of the Gold Rally jackpot that was supposedly won last November, and we are on a quest for answers - so far unsuccessful it must be said. We have outlined what we feel are a few of the most plausible scenarios that may explain the missing Gold Rally Jackpot money.
The jackpot was won but both Playtech and the casino are keeping it quiet.
The first question that comes to mind when considering this most obvious scenario is, naturally, why? It is totally understandable that the player would want to avoid unwanted attention and publicity. Notwithstanding the standard winners clause that players agree to at almost every single online casino, i.e. that their name may be used for publicity in the event of a significant win, most casinos are happy enough to publicise the win using a player's initials, first name only, or even referring to them without a name. Casinos love to publicise a big win as it differentiates them, making them appear lucky in some players' eyes, despite the fact that the games are the same no matter where they are played.
Furthermore, on the Playtech site just a month before the Gold Rally win, in October 2013, Playtech publicised its biggest ever win on the Gladiator jackpot, a €2.3m amount that is roughly half the size of the Gold Rally jackpot that they have not seen fit to publicise. The Gladiator win also made it into Playtech's annual report (PDF: see page 17) for the year ended 31 December 2013, but Gold Rally is not mentioned anywhere. The more we looked into this explanation, the less it added up.
The jackpot pool was reassigned to other jackpots.
The first thing we wanted to check was whether Playtech dropped the large amount of money and redistributed it to its other progressive jackpots. We did and sadly have seen no indication that this took place as there were no significant increases in the other Playtech jackpots that we tracked during this time. In addition if such a scenario took place we would expect, at the very least, a public announcement from Playtech or one of its licensees.
The jackpot was won by a player using a bonus that limited the withdrawal amount.
We don't want to believe that another player struck it big and won't see all their winnings, but given the past history we have discussed, this scenario is worryingly possible. On the other hand, we have also not found any comment or complaint online suggesting that someone did win the jackpot and fell victim to a bonus clause. Even if this were the case, the jackpot money in excess of the player's withdrawal should have been put back into the jackpot pool. This obviously never happened, so we can only assume that this scenario never happened either.
The jackpot was won at a land casino running games from VideoBet.
VideoBet is a Playtech subsidiary that services the land casino market, and as you can see from its website it offers many of the same games and jackpots that you can find at any Playtech online casino. The jackpots offered by VideoBet are combined with the same progressive jackpot network as Playtech's internet casinos. It is certainly a plausible explanation, however our request for information on this matter from Playtech and VideoBet have not received a response. If you factor in that there has been no mention of the win at all, either on the Playtech or VideoBet website, this scenario seems unlikely.
The money was silently removed from the jackpot pool for reasons unknown.
We really hope that this is not the case. It would explain why we have not heard any publicity by the group or a related casino, but it is a very unsatisfying explanation as it leaves so many unanswered questions. Unfortunately we cannot rule this or any other suspicious activity out, as Playtech has not responded to any requests by Casino Listings staff to explain what happened to this Gold Rally jackpot money.
The bottom line is that at the end of the day nobody will ever likely know what happened to this money unless Playtech, one of its licensees, or the winner decides to step up and issue a comment. Nothing would make us happier than to learn that the jackpot was won fairly and that the winner is sipping Pina Coladas on a beach in The Bahamas as I write this. The lack of transparency is extremely concerning, especially since the jackpot pool is funded by player contributions. To see that money simply evaporate in plain sight without explanation is very worrying, and customers that patronise Playtech's casinos (particularly those that play Gold Rally) deserve an explanation of where their jackpot money went.
We will continue to pursue this story and attempt to get a comment from Playtech or one of its licensees.