We noticed the fakes while taking a look around Bitcoin-only VegasCasino.io due to a recommendation from one of our members Reckless Bets. Appearing in the list of presumably popular games displayed on the site's home page, as well as the list of "hot" games, Novomatic's enormously popular Book of Ra slot machine stands out like a sore thumb. Other Novomatic games offered by the casino include Lord of the Ocean, Lucky Lady's Charm, Beetle Mania Deluxe, and Columbus Deluxe, among others. Novomatic does not allow their games to be played on unlicensed casinos using Bitcoin as the in game currency, so as a general rule if you find their games at a Bitcoin-only casino you can be sure they are fakes. We signed up for an account to test the games and this is what we found.
Loading Book of Ra Deluxe, the first sign that something is amiss is the fact that you are taken straight into the game without being able to pick your machine to sit down at and play. Normally Novomatic games first load a screen that shows rows of virtual machines and allows you to pick a machine to play or even watch someone else play "over the shoulder" like in a real casino.
The second thing we noticed is that the game settings, sound controls, help and other buttons that are normally positioned at the top of the game are not there. Instead there is a settings cog under the reels that reveals a couple of options switches when clicked. We are unsure if this is due to editing by the pirates, or if that was how the official version of the game looked when it was pirated.
The definitive proof however is found when you examine the domain that the game is served from using a web browser's code inspector. You can see the game is being served from a mystery domain mi1.thegameprovider.com. A WHOIS search on the domain reveals only some anonymised information that may or may not be associated with someone in Hong Kong. Realistically, whoever registered the domain could be anywhere in the world. The domain does not show any evidence of being connected to Novomatic or Greentube.
Compare that to a genuine version of the game that we offer here in our free games section of the site that is provided by Quasar Gaming. The aforementioned game selection screen is present when the game first loads, the settings controls are at the top of the game, and the domain serving the game is an offical Novomatic / Greentube domain, nrgs-b2b.greentube.com.mt, that you can verify by checking its WHOIS information.
So there you have it: another site busted running fake, pirated games. Aside from the obvious moral and ethical issues in patronising a casino that is willing to offer pirated games, you are being extremely naive if you knowingly play at such a casino expecting a fair game.
As we have showed, these games are not running on an official Novomatic or Greentube server. That is a critical problem because the gaming server is running the program that contains the random number generator (RNG) that decides whether your spins win or lose. Official Novomatic games have their RNG tested and game results audited to ensure that the games are fair and that they payout randomly and in accordance with the game's rules and theoretical payout rate. Pirated games do not have their RNG tested or game results audited. Instead you are relying on the honesty of someone who has committed a crime in pirating the games in the first place to offer you a fair game while it is run on a server with a RNG that is under their control.
As far as we can tell, VegasCasino.io is not licensed to operate a casino by any licensing authority or jurisdiction anywhere. Their website mentions a company named Vegas Royal S.A., and they state that the terms and conditions are written to comply with the laws of Panama, which does not regulate online casinos. It provides no physical address, no phone contact details, and no way to contact anyone there aside from email or live chat. This casino is structured so that its operators are as anonymous as possible.
Not all the games at VegasCasino.io are pirated. In fact the majority are genuine games supplied by companies that do permit their games to be played using Bitcoin. As is usually the case when these things come to light, we anticipate that the casino will blame its platform supplier for the issue. We believe that the platform supplier in question is coingaming.io, whose website showcases several pirated Novomatic and Playtech games as examples of the games it offers to prospective customers looking to run their own Bitcoin casino. We have found claims here and here that this casino is associated with another Bitcoin casino called BitCasino.io that was busted offering fake games back in 2014. If they are still associated, it would be intriguing to hear the explanation of how pirated games managed to be added to one of their sites yet again.
Once again folks, it is the wild west out there. Keep your wits about you and caveat emptor.