Casino Titan Review
Casino Titan was a real money online casino, powered by RealTime Gaming (RTG), which accepted US players. The site launched in 2008, but closed its virtual doors in the summer of 2015.
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Casino Titan Summary
When the site launched in late 2008 and gained notice in early 2009, a lot of American online gamblers welcomed the news. The website received rave reviews early though it had a number of player complaints. More than half of these complaints were resolved while response time to such concerns was listed a 1 day by Ask Gamblers. Thus, the site continued to build a following.
In 2012, the casino went offline for a month, due to a bad update by RTG. Still, its player community continued to grow when it came online again. Then, Casino Titan suddenly closed its doors in July 2015. Casino Titan’s owners had been indicted by a U.S. District Court on the same day they were arrested in their homeland of Israel.
Timeline of Casino Titan
|2008||Casino Titan Launches. The site offers a $5000 maximum deposit bonus, so it collects a sizable high roller community.|
|2010||WinPalace Group (NetAd Management) wins the dubious Worst Casino Group of the Year award from CasinoMeister.|
|2011||WinPalace Group again wins CasinoMeister’s Worst Casino Group of the Year award.|
|2012||29-Day Blackout. From November 19, 2012, until December 13, 2012, sites like Casino Titan, Begado Casino, and other RTG sites were not online. A glitch during an update caused the databases to go down.|
|2013||WinPalace Group wins CasinoMeister’s Worst Casino Group of the Year award for the third time in four years.|
|2014||CasinoListings begins negotiations with Grand Macao Casino on a $6,000 withdrawals. A six-week negotiation ensues.The JP-Morgan Chase security team discovers a cyber-attack on the bank’s database, which affects 83 million users and 7 million small businesses.|
|2014||JP Morgan-Chase security team halts the database hack. It is believed the hackers may have attacked at least 4 financial companies, including Fidelity Investments.|
|2014||The JP Morgan-Chase breach of security is announced to the public.Grand Macao Casino and the other 12 NetAd Management websites are blacklisted by Casino Listings.|
|2014||The New York Times reports that 10 companies have been hacked. The NY Times also reports that the breadth of the attacks have caused Washington intelligence officials and policy makers to speculate that the cyber-attack might have been perpetrated by agents of the Russian Federation. One senior US official briefed on intelligence said, “It could be in retaliation for the sanctions. But it could be mixed motives — to steal if they can, or to sell whatever information they could glean.”Authorities reveal that the cyber-attack also involved Citigroup, E*Trade, Regions Financial Corporation, HSBC Holdings, and payroll service firm Automatic Data Processing (ADP). As many as 10 to 14 financial institutions might have been targeted.|
|2015||Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein are arrested in Israel. U.S. authorities seek their extradition. An American accomplice in the cyber-attack, Anthony Murgio, is arrested in Florida. A second American accomplice, Joshua Aaron, was charged but remains at-large in Eastern Europe.|
|2015||Shalon, Orenstein, and 2 accomplices are indicted in US federal court.|
|2016||Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein still await trial in the United States.|
The Rise and Fall of Casino Titan
Casino Titan began operations in 2008. It offered a huge $5000 welcome bonus and a variety of interesting player rewards. The site had over 100 games, including a few dozen variations of table games and video poker machines. Over half of the games were online slot machines. Payment methods included Neteller, Moneybookers (Skrill), and Click2Pay.
Casino Titan’s Ownership Group
The site was said to be owned by Sonsoral N.V., a gaming company out of Curacao in the Caribbean Sea. Curacao is known as a significant licensing authority for online casinos, and the island nation also licensed Casino Titan.
The ultimate owners of the site were NetAd Management, an Israeli company which owned 8 different online casinos. The men who owned NetAd Management were Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein. The NetAd websites used a variety of software packages, including RTG, Rival Gaming, and TopGame Technology.
Their affiliate program was called Affactive Group. The two men operated a second rogue network named Revenue Jet. All of these names will become important later. For the time being, here is a list of the 13 sites managed by Affactive Group and Revenue Jet sites.
- WinPalace Casino
- Begado Casino
- Casino Titan
- Grand Macao Casino
- Golden Cherry Casino
- Jackpot Grand Casino
- Slots Jungle Casino
- Slots of Fortune
Revenue Jet Group
- Classy Coin Casino
- Loco Panda Casino
- Ruby Royal Casino
- Onbling Casino
- Grand Parker Casino
Record of Player Complaints
AskGamblers, a player’s forum which collects real players’ reviews, complaints, and bonus information, had a scouting report on Casino Titan. The complaint report included 48 different complaints over the years, with 26 of those complaints having been resolved. When a gambler complained to the customer support, they received a reply in one day’s time. The average amount of US dollars for each complaint was $4,060 — a significant amount.
A consensus formed on AskGamblers from the collective experience of the players who had run-ins with Casino Titan. They determined that payments would be sent out every 2 weeks on these larger withdrawals. The payments could be as low as $500. Because of this, Casino Titan had a reputation as a slow paying website.
Worst Casino Group of the Year
AskGamblers was not the only player community with complaints. For instance, CasinoMeister listed the Affactive Group as the “Worst Casino Group of the Year” for 2010, 2011, and 2013.
The biggest complaint was regarding the terms and conditions which allowed Casino Titan and other Affactive sites to slow-pay at the $500 amount. Their T&C said they could pay “up to $3000” a week, but this almost invariably became the default $500.
According to the site, the size of the payout was based on the “player’s group,” meaning their VIP rewards level. This is what’s called an “F U Clause” on CasinoMeister — a catch-all condition which is used to either no-pay or slow-pay a customer. In one case, a player who won $26,298 was paid in $500 installments.
Despite these ethical issues, Casino Titan, and other NetAd casinos continued to build a large player community. The reason was obvious: big deposit bonuses and aggressive advertisement. If you get $5000 signups and pay out $500 at a time, you can afford to promise big bonuses and pay for advertisement.
2012 Blackout Incident
In 2012, the reputation of Casino Titan took a hit. From November 19, 2012, to December 13, 2012, a failed update on the RealTime Gaming servers caused Casino Titan and a number of other NetAd Management websites to go offline for 29 days. This incident, called the Blackout, affected player confidence. When the site returned to operation, players were offered a $30 gaming token as a bonus offer to get them to return to the site.
OUSC has discussed how this affected Begado Casino, which had been online for only a month at the time. Because Casino Titan had been in operation since 2008, it was given more leeway from its customers. When the Blackout ended, most players continued to play on the site. It should be mentioned that most gamblers lose money, so the slow pay reputation spread slowly, despite it being a widespread phenomenon. Still, NetAd’s sites returned to full operation in 2013, pulling down another Worst Operator of the Year title.
Blacklisting by CasinoListings
Eventually, the NetAd Management online casinos were bad enough that Casino Listings blacklisted them in July 2014. This came to full light in September 2014, as the administrator discussed how they attempted to help a player get $6,000 she was owed by Grand Macao Casino, one of the 13 sites in the network.
After a 6-week negotiation by Casino Listings administrators, the woman began to receive payments of $500, like those discussed above. Originally, a customer service rep named “Vanessa” tried to convince the gambler that some kind of mistake had been made and offered to pay the gambler a flat $500 to go away. After six weeks of negotiations, Casino Listings eventually blacklisted the site.
By this point, those who took the time to research the Affactive Group on AskGamblers, Casino Meister, and other sites were forewarned and did not fall for the promotions and big bonuses. Still, gamblers who didn’t know the scam continued to sign-up and play on the website.
Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein Arrested
This might have continued, with these unethical operators scamming players into the indefinite future, had it not been for the events of July 23, 2015. On that day, the owners of NetAd Management, Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, were arrested by Israeli law enforcement.
The authorities in Israel were working with U.S. officials, who had unsealed an indictment that day which alleged Shalon and Orenstein had been involved in a cyber-attack on one of America’s biggest financial institutions the previous summer.
Hacking the JP Morgan Database
JP Morgan-Chase owns a database with the financial information of 83 million American accounts, 76 million households, and 7 million small businesses. This database had been hacked by Shalon and Orenstein the previous year. The office of Preet Bharara, the much-feared US District Attorney for the South Region of Manhattan, had investigated the case in the intervening months and determined the men were involved.
It was months before officials in the United States determined the case had a profit motive. Many experts in Washington DC and New York City believed the sophistication of the attack pointed to high-level perpetrators. The United States had led the international community in imposing sanctions against the Russian Federation for its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of the Crimea. Vladimir Putin’s cyber warfare units had attacked Estonia’s systems before, so it was thought Putin’s people might have been sending a message that American financial institutions could be attacked, too.
Quotes on the Cyber-Attack
Al Pascual, a security analyst with Javelin Strategy & Research, said of the cyber-attack,
“It was a huge surprise that they were able to compromise a huge bank like JPMorgan. It scared the pants off many people.”
Phil Lieberman, CEO of Lieberman Software, told USA Today that the attack,
“points to capabilities that go beyond criminal activity and are in the realm of nation-state capabilities.”
James Lewis, who serves as the director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, speculated that the attacks could have been state-sponsored. Lewis said,
“What would be different here is if there is the state role. We have not seen the state direct attacks before. They are sending a message and it’s a threat. It’s kind of like the mafia. Pick your favorite scene from The Godfather. The threat is: back off or there will be more.”
One has to laugh at the absurdity of such statements, with high-level government figures attributing deep-and-dark geopolitical motives to the cyber-attack of a couple of Israeli scam artists. One has to assume that Shalon and Orenstein might have read such quotes and realized exactly how much trouble they had caused — and the likelihood the U.S. government would eventually find them.
Affactive Media Shuts Down
Within 48 hours of the arrests, affiliates in the Affactive Media network learned that 13 NetAd Management sites were shutting down. With those sites’ closure, the affiliate accounts also were being shut down. The domains were going to be seized by the authorities.
Casino Titan was one of the sites shut down in July 2015. Players and affiliates on all 13 sites would have been lucky to get their winnings in a timely manner before, but the arrests meant they likely would never see their money. Gamblers on Casino Titan and the other 12 sites were thus part of a cautionary tale about the dangers of gambling with offshore operators.
Motive behind the JP Morgan Cyber-Attack
According to US officials, Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein used the information as part of a “pump-and-dump” scam. They would target JP Morgan customers who were likely to invest in penny stocks, convince many of them to invest in these stocks (which pumped up their value), and then dumped them back on the market. In such a way, they could make a huge amount of cash in little time.
The only problem with such a pump-and-dump scheme is it apparently leaves an electronic trail.
Trial of Shalon and Orenstein
American officials called for Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein to be extradited to the United States. Israel acceded to that request. In November 2015, Shalon and Orenstein were indicted formerly in the United States. They face decades in a US prison if they are found guilty of the many crimes they are accused of committing.