As a knee jerk reaction to GoneGambling exposing a dispute between another Webmaster and the Sunny Group of casinos, the Sunny Group put out the following press release:
Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2003 5:29 AM
Subject: FW: mapau blackmail 2003 07 26
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Nalini Singh
DATE: August 26, 2003
A most unusual dispute between Mapau (www.mapau.com), an Internet and Land based Casino, and portal, Gonegambling.com has resulted in a charge by the famous Casino that it has been subjected to Internet Blackmail. Sunny Group Chairman, Dr.Waldron-Ramsay said:
"For several years Mapau casino has been advertising with the portal run by John Abbott. Thousands of customers came to Mapau from the portal and Mapau has had the most incredible amount of complimentary letters from so many of the customers. Many times the portal complimented Mapau on the incredible service and experience given. Mapau has also been voted most Honest Casino on the Internet by gamblers at www.gambling.com."
"The Board of Directors is absolutely shocked at the recent demand by John Abbott that unless we pay Mr. Booth $5000 the portal will run the following article (casinoproblems-sunny) which we deem to be libelous, unfair, untrue and blackmail by Mr. Abbott. Mapau Casino denies the allegations of Mr. Abbott and refuses to pay him or his associate $5000 or any amount. We believe any dispute belongs in a court of law and have repeatedly asked both Mr. Abbott and Mr. Booth to direct their hostility to such. We do not subject ourselves to the jurisdiction nor the blackmail of Mr. Abbott and immediately sever any contacts with him or his portal."
In the past couple of years Internet Casinos have been under pressure from the US and Australian authorities. As a result advertising spend has been estimated to have been cut by over 70%, hurting many portals and driving many to closure. Mapau Marketing Director, Natasha Singh said, Mapau used to spend over one million dollars a month on advertising. This is now down to just a quarter of this. Campaigns have to be monitored very closely. The campaign with Mr.Abbotts portal has been very enjoyable to us because of the relationship developed with the resultant customers over a period of time. Profits have to talk however, and when it came for renewal we were going to quit but stayed on for another quarter at the insistence of Mr. Abbott. This also did not work out and we gave notice that we would not be continuing. I believe the actions of Mr.Abbott are based on this.
Let's start with the dates because something just doesn't add up. From what we can gather, the press release was "Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2003 5:29 AM" but the subject line appears to have a back to front date of the 26th July, 2003, or as is appears in the subject line; "Subject: FW: mapau blackmail 2003 07 26"
GoneGambling never contacted the Sunny Group about the problem with C. M. Booth until August 5th. So just how did the Sunny Group know a full week in advance that we would be writing to them about this matter? OK. The 07 is probably a typo and they meant 08 instead or the 26th of August.... but wait a minute! The date of the press release being written is the 26th August, but then it apparently took two days to either be sent, or reach its destination. A technical problem perhaps? Or were the dates played with to make it look like the Sunny Group got the jump on GoneGambling in making our page live?
"Thousands of customers came to Mapau from the portal..." Correct. And GoneGambling also sent thousands to Casino Fortune and thousands to Miami Beach as well. Why is the press release put out by Mapau, and only talking about Mapau, when the original problem was to do with Sunny Sportsbook? Perhaps Sunny Sportsbook doesn't need any more problems than it already has? Perhaps the idea was to shift the focus to Mapau which is also their land based casino - talking about their land based casino may be seen by some readers as giving them more credibility - what do you think?
"Mapau has had the most incredible amount of complimentary letters from so many of the customers." Yes you have. And now you also have an incredible amount of uncomplimentary letters from many of your ex-customers. We have pasted some below for our readers to see.
"Mapau has also been voted most Honest Casino on the Internet by gamblers at www.gambling.com." Yes, you have. And for over two years each and EVERY month GoneGambling has been voted the Best Miscellaneous Website at www.gambling.com - and we didn't have to reward players for voting for us by dumping money in their casino accounts!
"The Board of Directors is absolutely shocked at the recent demand by John Abbott that unless we pay Mr. Booth $5000..." And in which email did I make this demand? This is where the stretching of the truth ends and the lies start. I defy anyone to review the correspondence between myself and the Sunny Group and point out the place where I demand that they pay Mr. Booth $5,000.
$5,000 or $500?
In a phone conversation C. M. Booth told me that the original amount of compensation he was seeking was $500. And he was even happy to run the Sunny Group banners for a month for that figure. That was approximately twelve months ago. He then says he started to get the run-around from Sunny, which ended up with the whole problem being dumped in my lap.
In his first email to me, C. M. Booth was obviously upset with the Sunny Group. This
had been dragging on for a year and he had worked out the value of full page adverts and
the number of times the advert had been run etc. That's where he came up with the figure
of $5,000. When I talked to him about that figure in a phone conversation, I pretty much
told him that he had as much chance being paid that amount as I had of flying to the moon
unassisted! It wasn't reasonable and it wasn't going to happen. In all of the
correspondence we have on the page on our site, you won't see 'me' mention $5,000. All I
wanted was for both parties to talk and come to some form of agreement or settlement.
"Mapau Casino denies the allegations of Mr. Abbott and refuses to pay him or his associate $5000 or any amount." This is amazing! I brought to the attention of the Sunny Group a problem that I was made aware of. I did not know C. M. Booth. I have never met C. M. Booth. I don't even think our sites do a link exchange. But suddenly, C. M. Booth is my associate, if you believe the press release put out by the Sunny Group. On that basis, every player complaint I have ever forwarded to the Sunny Group and had to correspond with them about, would also make the players my associates! This is a real stretch Sunny Group. You should be ashamed of yourselves for masquerading rubbish like this as a press release.
"We believe any dispute belongs in a court of law and have repeatedly asked both Mr. Abbott and Mr. Booth to direct their hostility to such." Crap! Sunny Group is hiding behind that statement because they know the amount in question does not warrant legal action being taken. In other words, they don't have to respond or do anything because they can claim it's a matter for the courts.
"We do not subject ourselves to the jurisdiction nor the blackmail of Mr. Abbott and immediately sever any contacts with him or his portal." Just so I'm clear on this... Sunny Group appears to be severing ties with GoneGambling and myself after I have already told them GoneGambling will no longer accept advertising from them. I think you missed the bus on that one Sunny Group... Oh, wait a minute... now I see where the strange dates on the press release fit in. It makes it look like you are dumping GoneGambling instead of the other way around. Gee, that's a clever move!
"Profits have to talk however, and when it came for renewal we were going to quit but stayed on for another quarter at the insistence of Mr. Abbott. This also did not work out and we gave notice that we would not be continuing. I believe the actions of Mr. Abbott are based on this."
Earlier this year the Sunny Group came to us wanting to change the terms for bonuses and GG Points Conversions. They wanted to increase the required deposit from $50 every thirty days to $100. They did not want to offer any other incentives or more bonuses though, and when we checked our figures, it appeared to us to be just a 'grab for cash' from GoneGambling members. We put our case to them. We said what they were trying to do was not fair, and that an increase should be looked at at a later date. (Yes, GoneGambling has the emails about all of this.)
Not at that time or any time since have Sunny Group notified GoneGambling that they wanted to end their advertising with us. That is just a blatant lie, and of course they have produced NO proof for anyone that it was their intention to end the advertising. In fact, here's enough proof to support our case to satisfy even the most sceptical reader:
I received several responses from the Sunny Group after I sent them my fourth email. That was the email where I stated:
"...The Sunny Group advertising on the GoneGambling site expires on the 31st August, 2003. Unless the matter with C. M. Booth is resolved by then, GoneGambling will not renew its promotion of the Sunny Group. ..."
In response to that very email John Wallis of the Sunny Group responded with:
"... It is your right to stop us advertising with you and we are left with nothing but happy memories and goodwill towards you and GoneGambling. ..."
Did you see that? It is our right to STOP the Sunny Group from advertising with GoneGambling. He didn't say; "Now look here you silly moron, we told you four months ago we were going to stop advertising with you!" Instead, he said that it was our right to stop them from advertising with us. You can verify the email correspondence for yourself here.
The Sunny Group claims GoneGambling was not profitable for them. I think they need to
check their tracking or how they view who is depositing with them. Following are the
numbers of GoneGambling members who have typed in their Sunny Group Casino ID's to play
for bonus deposits and GG Points Conversions at GoneGambling.
754 Casino Fortune
696 Miami Beach Casino
I would not normally provide anyone with the above information. However, via their press release and emails to our members, the Sunny Group has set out to damage the reputation of GoneGambling by making it appear we are not a profitable site to deal with. This could turn many casinos off approaching us for years to come, so I feel compelled to provide proof here that the opposite is the case.
Sent from Sunny Group Thursday, August 28, 2003 4:09 PM
Quite a few people have asked us for our side of things in a dispute with Mr. Abbott of Gonegambling. It is below:
We have advertised for several years at the portal owned by Mr. Abbott. The last few months of that advertising had not been successful and four months ago we told Mr. Abbott of our decision to stop the advertising. Mr. Abbott demanded that we continue, saying it was unethical to stop without longer notice as several contests were running that couldnt be stopped. As we thought we had a good relationship with him we continued for another three months during which time he sought, and found, a replacement advertiser.
Two weeks ago we received an email from Mr. Abbott concerning a Mr. Booth and demanding that we submit to Mr. Abbotts judgement on a complaint of Mr. Booth who is not our customer and is in fact a webmaster we have no business with at all. Furthermore, Mr. Abbott is not a judge nor does he have any authority, qualifications or training to judge any dispute that belongs in a court of law. He, however proceeded to write accusatory letters to the point where he pronounced his own judgement and sentence from a trial he could only have held in his own mind. Mr. Abbott then threatened that if we did not do his bidding he would publish a damaging article about us. We did not bow to his blackmail a second time.
The fact is that the advertising on Mr. Abbotts portal was unproductive and we did not wish to be there anymore. He has demonstrated a very unprofessional attitude in trying to bully us. Our record of being honest and giving excellent customer service is unsurpassed in Internet Gambling. All payments from us are timely. Mapau has been voted Most Honest casino at well respected portal, www.gambling.com and Sunny Casinos has received many other awards and allocades.
We believe Mr. Abbott has made up stories in order to make the members of his portal believe that we are not good and that they should not do business with us and therefore should do business with his new advertiser. We have noticed this happening in his forums already. Mr. Abbotts actions represent the naked face of commerciality and once again justify our stance at the forefront of getting our industry regulated.
"Two weeks ago we received an email from Mr. Abbott concerning a Mr. Booth ..." Sunny Group is busy trimming away the truth again! They chopped a full week or more off of the time I first contacted them about this matter. One can only assume they made it two weeks instead of over three weeks to make themselves appear to have not been given enough time to resolve the issues. This would paint them in a favorable light and make me appear to be impatient and unreasonable. Check the dates on the page we put up against the date of the emails received from the Sunny Group. The proof is all there!
GoneGambling has pretty much placed a hold on bringing any new casinos on the GoneGambling site since late 2002. We just didn't believe that our membership base of 5,000 at that time could support any additional casinos. Yes, we've had some come and some go, but we've only brought them on as our membership has increased. (Now around 7,500.) GoneGambling did NOT have a replacement casino or group of casinos ready to step in and take over from the Sunny Group as they claim.
GoneGambling was doing business as usual and did risk losing over $7,000 each month if we suddenly lost the Sunny Group. We risked a lot more than that because we didn't know how our other sponsoring casinos would react to what was happening with the Sunny Group. If they saw GoneGambling as being unreasonable, we could have lost them too.
Fortunately, no sooner did we go live with the page about the Sunny Group, and several casinos stepped up and offered to fill the void. We were overwhelmed. Within 24 hours, around seven casinos had contacted us wanting to share in the players the Sunny Group had let slip away.
The rest of the allegations in the email from the Sunny Group to GoneGambling members have either been responded to on this page or on the first page we put up.
Names have been removed to protect the privacy of the members who wrote the following emails. All emails were sent to the Sunny Group and only copied to GoneGambling. We received far too many emails to include here so we've only included a handful.
Email #01. I just read some disturbing news from John Abbott of GoneGambling concerning how your casino conducts business. I chose to play at your casino based on a strong recommendation from GoneGambling. I trust John Abbott and the GoneGambling site to help gamblers navigate the sometimes perilous waters of online gambling. To do that, communication between GoneGambling and online casinos is extremely important. I am very disturbed that you ignored queries made by Mr. Abbott on behalf of another business. If you can ignore those queries, you can easily ignore queries he may make on my behalf, or on behalf of any of the GoneGambling members (of which I am very proud to be one).
I made deposits of over $10,000 into the Mapau Casino in August alone... I think this makes me a rather 'desirable' player, and a very serious one. I cannot, and will not, play at a casino that does not have a close, honest relationship with Mr. Abbott. He has proven himself to be totally honest, reliable, and trustworthy, and I will play only at casinos recommended by the GoneGambling site. I know that if I have any difficulties or misunderstandings with the casinos, Mr. Abbot will act as a go-between. He is the ONLY true advocate I have found for the online gambler.
I am ending my play at your casino at this time, and will not play again at any of the Sunny Group casinos until such a time as you mend your relationship with GoneGambling. If that relationship does not mend, then my relationship with your casinos will cease to exist.
Email #02. To whom it may concern: I am an active member of the GoneGambling site, and I used to be a frequent depositor with Sunny Group's casinos. In light of the recent events I have read on the GoneGambling site, I can no longer in good conscience support your group of casinos. Please delete the following accounts and remove...
Email #03. Due to your unwillingness to resolve your problems with Mr Abbott and gone gambling I am requesting that you close all my accounts with your casino group. I cannot in good conscience support a casino that is unwilling to communicate with the necessary concern and professionalism.
Email #04. In view of the recent negative events concerning GoneGambling I am requesting you to close all my Sunny Group Casino accounts immediately. I would also like to have my name removed from your mailing lists. I am 100% loyal to GoneGambling due to the integrity of John Abbott, and completely disappointed in Sunny Group. Fortune Lounge will now be my Casino's of choice.
Email #05. Do to the recent negative events and my on going support of www.gonegambling.com I would like all my accounts in all Sunny Group Casinos closed immediately. I would also like to be removed from all emailings immediately.
It is really to bad that Sunny Group chose to handle the dispute they are in the way they did. You guys used to be considered the most honest casinos around and it is to bad you chose to let this ruin your good name. I think you will find that this is going to cost you many members as well as thousands of dollars.
Email #06. I would like to have my casino accounts closed please. All accounts at Mapau, Miami Beach, Casino Fortune and GoldGate Casino. If you have broken trust with John Abbott at GoneGambling you have broken it with thousands of the rest of us as well. This is surely one of the saddest days ever in the history of online gambling to find that our beloved and trusted Sunny doesn't care to do the right thing.
Email #07. I would like to request that you close all of my existing accounts with the Sunny Group of casinos. I am disappointed with the position you have taken with GoneGambling and other casino portals and no longer wish to deposit with your group.
Email #08. It is with regret that I must inform you that I wish to have my casino accounts closed at all of the Sunny Group Casinos. As a long time member of GoneGambling, I have read all of the recent correspondence, or rather, lack of correspondence. Over the past few years, I have been given many reasons to trust John Abbott. He does not make rash judgments. Often times, he has explained his decisions and the reasons for them to his members. This is why, quite some time ago, I made the decision to deposit solely with GoneGambling sponsors. I will continue to deposit only with GoneGambling sponsors in the future. It is a matter of trust between Mr. Abbott and his members.
When I first heard a rumor on the situation with Mr. Booth, I never once expected it to be the Sunny Group. You have always been my favorite and many months, I have deposited solely with your casinos. Your failure to acknowledge emails from John Abbott leads me to believe that if I had a dispute with one of your casinos in the future, I might be treated likewise. Please close my accounts at Miami Beach, Casino Fortune, Goldgate and Mapau.
Email #09. It really saddens me to request this, as I did love to play at your casinos, but please close all of my accounts. I have been a member of gonegambling for a couple of years, and I have never seen such disrespect shown to John Abbott, as I just saw displayed by your Group. A simple response to his emails would have negated my action. If the person reading this doesn't know what I'm referring to, please forward this to J Wallis.
Email #10. It is with deep regret that I must now ask you to close all of my Sunny Group Casino accounts immediately! I have been a member of your casinos for over two years,and have made many many deposits with all three. The only reason I ever made any of the deposits was because of your long standing relationship with Gonegambling.
I must tell you that I trust the owner of Gonegambling Mr. John Abbott and any persons associated with him explicitly! You were also granted this trust,simply because Gonegambling recommended you to me. Today, I see that this trust has been betrayed.
I will continue to give Mr. Abbott my trust and I will continue to deposit only in casinos he recommends. The man is above reproach,and once again shown his members he has our best interest at heart!
Email #11. Please remove me from any and all casino accounts I have with Sunny Group. I have them with Mapau, Miami Beach, and Casino Fortune. Below you will find my casino acct #'s for each casino.
After reading the webpage on Gonegambling, I have lost faith in your group. I find it distressing to think that something so simple could not be settled in a more efficient and businesslike manner. I cannot justify continuing to make deposits into a casino that shows so little regard and respect for the very people who put food in their mouths. <the little guys>
Mr Booth seems to have a legit gripe. After reading the page, I hope he finds some gratification in the fact that Sunny Group will end up losing many clients because of their bad judgement, not only with Mr Booth, but also with their arrogant replies to John Abbott. That was totally irresponsible and sad.
Email #12. I am a fairly long-standing member of Gone Gambling (over 2 years) and a loyal supporter of John Abbott. In my opinion he is a man of utmost integrity and honor. He has just made public the whole situation starting with the dispute between Sunny Group and C. M. Booth and ending with the situation of Sunny Group and Gone Gambling.
Why Sunny Group would turn their back on someone like John Abbott is beyond my understanding. Never-the-less, even though I was a member of the 3 main Sunny Group casinos before I became a member of Gone Gambling, I am sticking with John on this one. How can I trust a group of casinos to do right by me when they don't seem to care about someone who has obviously helped them gain the solid reputation that they are today enjoying and throwing back in his face???
As per the conditions set forth on the Gone Gambling site, I have been making regular deposits at all 3 casinos to claim bonuses offered. Yes, this influenced my deposits - I probably would not have made so many had it not been for the wonderful bonuses and opportunities for bonuses that Gone Gambling offered chances at. I am currently losing out on the opportunity for these bonuses as your casinos are no longer part of the Gone Gambling family - shame on you - you should have had the decency to warn us that this was happening, instead, you allowed us to continue making deposits knowing that we would not get the full 30 days' benefit from it.
It is with great sadness that I request that you close all of my accounts as I do not wish to do business with a group of casinos that are not willing to account for their actions and at least respond to someone like John Abbott. In all fairness, he deserved a timely response from you which he did not get. It is for this reason that I am closing my accounts and uninstalling the software from my computer.
Email #13. As a result of your company's attitude towards response to problems, I find it necessary to cancel my memberships at your 3 casinos, as I have lost faith in you and feel that my money should be deposited elsewhere.
Email #14. It is with great regret that I must now close my account with Casino Fortune. I will only deal with casinos that are recommended by Gone Gambling and have lost all trust in the Sunny Group.
Email #15. Please close all 4 of my accounts with Sunny group. Since you are no longer a sponsor of Gonegambling I will not spend my hard earned money at any of your casinos. I too am a "little fish" and will not deal with any business that hides behind their lawyer instead of using common sense and plain courtesy.
If you intend contacting the Sunny Group about any of this, please copy GoneGambling on your emails to them. It will allow us to judge what the true feeling is in the online gambling world when a story like this is told.