iGaming can occasionally resemble the game of cat and mouse. As players’ skills and choices keep pursuing fun and enticing gems hidden beneath rules and chances, the environment of outcomes can sometimes be confusing, even deceiving. It’s just the nature of a beast, regardless of the game. But, it doesn’t mean that online casinos’ practices and their relations with patrons should be similar. On the contrary — considering the whole nine yards of gambling, the interactive eco-system should be fair, certified, well-governed, and straightforward as possible.
But, at times, it just isn’t the case.
The latest example of WixiPlay Casino, recently blacklisted by Wizard of Odds for cheating and not paying withdrawals to players, serves as the instructive testimonial of opaque casino operations that have no place in the iGaming industry.
Investigative efforts of Michael Shackleford, responsible for unearthing this case, come on the heels of the player’s appeal for assistance to evaluate hash mismatches in the game of dice that he experienced while playing at WixiPlay.
Wizard’s inquiry further discovered seemingly unsubstantiated withdrawal holdouts, backed by his personal experience and a rather intriguing — if not telling — response by the casino.
We bring you this story as heads up, and to help you make your conclusions.
Who: The Casino
WixiPlay is a relatively young bitcoin casino, established in 2018 and marketed as provably fair, offering lottery, keno, and dice games. It accepts players around the world; our investigators from the USA, Sweden, Australia, Japan, Spain, Estonia, Dubai, Cairo, and the UK impartially accessed this hub at ease.
There are at least five cryptocurrencies to play with and exchange between, including three faucet systems. The official and the only available language is English. There is no live chat support; the casino is mobile-friendly.
WixiPlay states on the website that it offers 25% CashBack/RakeBack deposit recovery — loss rebate — in addition to “very flexible” bonuses. House edge on all games is one percent, while “provably fair system and NONCE make your game 100% fair.”
On their FAQ page, the casino notes that “the withdrawals are instant,” not including some cases when transfers may be waiting for manual approval, “which may take up to 24 hours.”
On the other hand…
…WixiPlay seems to be anonymous since there is no available information about the ownership structure. The same goes for jurisdiction — sift through all available data returned neither licensing nor any official details. Additional online resources list the casino in the category of low revenues gambling hubs.
Thus, in terms of ‘nice to meet you,’ we really could not realize who is behind the business venture one is to entrust with the money and chances, or what regulation body is in charge of gambling operations.
The marketing language on their website is, in contrast, quite talkative.
WixiPlay goes on to state that “respect towards players is our main motivation,” claiming they are “always open to any kind of collaboration, any feedback and suggestions for improving the website and Bitcoin Games.”
When it comes to walking this talk, though, the picture seems to be different. Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) only underline such a notion.
They are rather strict and relive WixiPlay of any liability. To top it all off, T&Cs put players in the position to “acknowledge the efficiency of the method [of provably fair tools that WixiPlay uses to verify the absence of deceit] and [to] make a commitment not to dispute the results in trial or arbitration.”
The latter — rule 4.6 in T&Cs — in effect demand you to trust blindly to all RTPs and leave you with no means of players’ protection. This is where the absence of jurisdictional details truly kicks in.
Speaking of protection…
…T&Cs put the onus on players to notify the casino in case of self-exclusion. At the same time, patrons from the Netherlands, Curacao, Dutch Caribbean Islands, France, and the USA cannot play at the casino. Again, our teams from those territories successfully accessed WixiPlay.
Finally, T&Cs are very clear in empowering the casino to use any type of contractual breach to “carry out any action deemed fit, including termination of the current or past agreements, or taking legal action against the user.”
The last segment of the sentence somewhat resembles a sell-at-all-cost mindset, if you will: It’s OK for the casino to take any action against players, but patrons cannot reciprocate and don’t even know with whom they’re interacting.
…we live in a free world of our own choices. It’s up to punters to decide where they will deploy their gambling funds and whom they will trust in terms of playing fairness. After all, every commodity or service has its customers.
Similarly, online casinos are free to create their policies and practices per their business strategy; it’s entirely in their purview to do as they deem proper.
It was, however, interesting to dive into casino’s documentation that will soon enough, as the story show, turn out to be the very thing this gambling hub will renounce by its actions.
What: Provably Fair Game of Dice
The other character in this real-life story indeed has nothing to do with dice. The game consists of bets on random integers from zero to 10,000, as Michael Shackleford explains in his two-part video series.
The rules are rather simple: The player defines the wagering range by setting the payout on a particular bet amount and lets the provably fair RNG do the rest.
In the example…
…the player places the wagering amount on Bitcoin. If the patron sets the payout on 2 — which means it’s on a 2:1 basis — the game stipulates that he or she has to get any number above 5,050 or below 4,950 to win, with a chance of 49.50 percent. If the player changes the settings into, for instance, 3:1 payout, the game defines integer range to be above 6,070 and below 3,030 with 33 percent of winning chance. The player can decide which option it’ll pursue — roll over or roll under — before it ‘throws the dice.’
Upon defining the settings, the patron clicks on the mouse button, and the game displays the outcome. In the case of a hit, the number is green. In the case of the miss, it’s red.
Dice is a pure chance, zero skills, no betting strategy game. You put the money in, set the range, click on the button, and either win or lose. Such settings set the onus of the outcome to the provably fair system employed by this casino.
But what provably fair means in the first place? It means that the outcome of each game is determined in advance by the software.
Employed by many bitcoin casinos, the system relies on mathematical equations well-known in cryptography and serves to prove that online hubs cannot manipulate the results. While the process may vary from one casino to the other, it usually involves five distinct elements:
- A server seed,
- A hashing function,
- A server seedhash,
- A client seed, and
- A nonce. (Remember NONCE in the casino introduction?)
So, whenever a patron makes any bet, the casino uses a client seed plus a nonce — which is, essentially, an arbitrary value used only once — and merges it with the server seed to create a hash. The hash, on the other hand, is a set of data that emerges as the result of a hashing function, which represents a scrambled version of various data of any size.
…if you feed, say, “Let’s Play!” into the XYZ123 hashing function, it will return you a hash with a particular 64-character hexadecimal string. But, if you do the same with “Let’s Play.” — the slight difference is in the exclamation mark versus period at the end of the feed — the very same hashing function will give you an entirely different hash.
The result of the combination of these separate yet connected elements determines the outcome of the play. The software engine behind each roll varies from casino to casino and is site-dependant.
Players always know the client seed, a server seed hash, and a nonce. The server seed, however, is initially kept secret by every bitcoin casino.
…any player can request that the casino reveals the server seed after the bet, or before another wager, which may be used to prove that all bets have been provably fair, as they should be.
To put it differently, by knowing the server seed players can be sure that the website hasn’t altered results.
The game of dice at WixiPlay is entirely governed by a provably fair system which, contrary to poker or blackjack, completely takes the steering wheel out of the hands of players.
Case Number One: The Server Seed Manipulation
So, when Michael Shackelford learned in person about friend’s suspicions that WixiPlay might be cheating, Wizard encouraged him to make a post at the forum and present the case. Writing goes in detail to explain the issue and the player’s experience with this casino.
Driven by the perpetual mission to put players at the center of his effort — which is what makes Michael such a prominent figure in the worldwide gambling community — Wizard followed-up the post with two initiatives.
Firstly, he published his short manual on how guaranteed fair gaming should work so the players can understand the environment a bit better.
Secondly, Shackleford went on to play the game of dice at WixiPlay and to see for himself. He made a few deposits in Bitcoin and tested the provably fair system at hand.
He used his client seed, as well as the server seed hash and a nonce provided by the casino to verify the fairness of the system. Anyone can access this information by clicking on the appropriate button in the game.
…he stored those data in Online PHP Sandbox — an interactive tool for debugging and testing PHP code, also rather useful in verifying provable fairness of gambling. The tool enables you to check the integrity of the whole hashing system. In case of proper hashing match, Online PHP Sandbox gives the very same outcome (number) the player can see at any casino; in case of mismatch, the tool allows you to see discrepancies between hashes.
The mismatch is exactly what happened at WixiPlay. As Wizard of Odds explains and shows through his efforts:
“The casino string that determined the outcome of the bet was not the same as the seed casino was supposed to use. That is evidenced by the fact that the hashes didn’t match. The casino had some string that probably would have resulted in winning outcome. The casino hashed that, they gave it to the player before the bet — and then after — that seed, combined with the client’s seed, would have caused the win. So, what I am accusing the casino of doing is, once they’ve noticed it resulted in a winning bet for the player, they’ve changed the server seed until they’ve got one that caused the loss, and then they just told the player that was the server seed — and hoped that the player would not check that the alleged server seed would hash to the same thing before the bet. And it did not match. There was a hash mismatch that shows that this whole thing about verified fair gaming did not happen here.”
…the investigation, captured in Shackleford’s videos in detail, is based on analytical data and quantifiable outcomes through publicly available verifying systems.
The process is impersonal, impartial; there’s nothing any man can do to influence the outcome. You copy/paste all data provided by the casino, you put them into the tool, and it shows you whether hashes match or mismatch, that is, have you been cheated or not.
As it turned out — again, in a very transparent manner, as particularly shown in Part 2 of Wizard’s video — the hashes used by WixiPlay did not match, and that is something that goes steeply against the provably fair casino in the first place. Period.
WixiPlay did not answer to the email Shackleford sent them regarding this issue.
Case Number Two: Withdrawals Denial
“You dig a six-foot hole, and you find three bodies; but, you dig twelve, and maybe you’ll find forty.” This sentence from the movie Syriana provides a fitting context for yet another discovery of Shackleford’s investigation.
A simple effort to verify WixiPlay’s fairness in gambling also pointed out issues in players’ withdrawals. As video shows, out of four withdrawals Wizard made, two were stalled.
The first one remained in pending status for over a day, when Shackleford received the message that the money got reversed back to his casino account (please don’t ask how this happened because we simply don’t know). The second withdrawal remains to this day in ‘processed’ status, although blockchain does not show records of any transaction that should be instant, which is one of the key features of bitcoin casinos.
When Wizard contacted the casino via email about this, they informed him that — verbatim — “Right now don’t exist withdrawal in pending. Thank you.”
There was no other explanation by the casino at the moment, although the message did contradict the facts from the withdrawal history of Shackleford’s account at WixiPlay.
The withdrawal experience prompted Wizard of Odds to expand his conclusion and argumentation “that WixiPlay is not only cheating but not honoring withdrawals.”
In a manner of an analytical and mild character he has, Shackleford concluded his video report of February 27 (Part One), with a call to action toward the casino.
“If WixiPlay should wish to contradict anything that I said, make a statement, by all means, please do, and I will make it clear in the comments what they said. So far, I’ve heard nothing.”
Aftermath: Casino’s Response & Takeaways
The very next day after Wizard published Part One at YouTube, on February 28, WixiPlay issued the statement.
Other than resembling a typical ad hominem answer — one side avoids discussion by attacking the character or motives of the other one, instead of arguing the argument — the statement, telling as it is, does not clarify a thing.
WixiPlay brushed off the provably fair segment of Wizard’s argumentation by stating that his friend is not real, that “Mr. Shackleford lied,” and that the first video and forum thread “is based on lies and forged proof.”
The casino goes on to state that Wizard “only wants to create drama, so he can gain more views on his YouTube account/forum, even tho [sic] that means to violate our terms, forge proof, lie [sic] to his forum/youtube [sic] viewers.”
Regarding withdrawals, WixiPlay stated that “we are ignoring withdrawal requests, even tho [sic] he withdrew from our website several times with different accounts (which is against our Terms and Conditions).”
Straightforward in pursuit of the gambling truth no matter what throughout his whole career, Shackleford created Part Two of his video and published it on YouTube on March 3. Therein, he went in even greater detail to explain all the facts, his rationale, and to show how he did not violate the casino’s T&Cs.
To be more precise, Wizard already transparently showed in Part One that two different accounts logged in to WixiPlay from his IP address. Still, there is neither an article nor rule in the casino’s T&Cs that stipulates this is forbidden. None.
In other words…
…WixiPlay’s reply regarding both cases — manipulation of the provably fair system and discriminatory withdrawals policy — could not be supported by facts whatsoever.
Their walk certainly did not sustain their talk about fairness, feedback, improvement suggestions, let alone respect towards players as the primary motivation.
Also, a quick survey through various online forums gave a glimpse of other players’ experiences with this casino that are entirely in line with Shackleford’s conclusions.
…Michael Shackleford is a 55-year old mathematician, an adjunct professor of actuarial science and mathematics at the UNLV, a former contributing editor to Casino Player magazine, and the author of the book Gambling 102 (published by Huntington Press). His landmark research on actual returns of slot machines in Las Vegas garnered international attention. He appeared numerous times on national television as a well-known expert on gambling strategy.
There are many adjectives you could describe him, but being a person that seeks “drama” or look to “gain more views,” let alone “lie” are not amongst them. Michael Shackleford does not need “forged proofs,” and his call to action toward WixiPlay was fair and square.
On the other hand, what Wizard perhaps needs — and all online players around the world most certainly do — is an argumentative answer to questions posed. The reaction which does not resemble teenager getting insulted by others’ opinions, deciding “not to give anymore attention” to what is happening, but instead facing the argument in a manner of a mature business partner that does not seek cheap excuses.
With all of this in mind…
…as we already said, this is a free world. Casinos have every right to make their policies just about anything, as long as they’re acting in line with the jurisdictional stipulations and national regulations. Equally, players have every possibility to make their own decision where and when they will play, and to whom they’ll entrust with their money.
The story of WixiPlay shows that when players do not know the jurisdiction of the casino nor any other public information about the casino, they’re entirely left to their own devices, being utterly unprotected. There’s no regulatory body to go to and complain. It’s no man’s land.
…the story also shows that players have reputable expert affiliates and online tools at their disposal that can and will help them to stay well-informed and conduct proper due diligence. It’s a matter of sustaining the essential segments of responsible gambling, and about empowering patrons to make the best calls based on their own decision in a transparent manner that sometimes also includes warnings.
And, that’s why these lines are here for: To help you keep the steering wheel of fair play gambling practices in your hand as much as possible.
We hope that you’ll keep your headings to the best of your knowledge, and — have good luck!