Ozric Vondervelden, Co-Founder of gameplay risk management platform Greco, talking ahead of SBC Summit Latinoamérica, assesses the threat posed by bonus abuse. A series of data leaks, he warns, has exposed citizens’ tax ID numbers, and armed fraudsters with the ability to scale bonus abuse across hundreds of thousands of identities.

The Brazilian igaming industry is undoubtedly among the toughest markets to navigate when it comes to bonus abuse. Amplifying this challenge is affiliate fraud, where CPA partners leverage platforms like YouTube to promote bonus abuse and guide players into private Discord and Telegram groups where they orchestrate attacks.

A series of data leaks, exposing citizens’ tax ID numbers, have armed fraudsters with the ability to scale bonus abuse across hundreds of thousands of identities. Furthermore, a number of operators in the market have been impacted by integration bugs associated with a few crash games. This vulnerability has been the target of many fraudsters who are being paid winnings twice.

One of the biggest problems the market faces is the abuse of persistence slots. These are games that facilitate the storage of value within the mechanics of the game. Bad actors can use these games to store bonus funds that they later release as cash, undermining wagering requirements in the process. 

This process of abuse typically converts around 90 per cent of the bonus to cash, compared to the 10-20 per cent that is typically intended. There are over 1,500 of these games, making up 20 per cent of all new releases. In collaboration with Kaizen Gaming, we have published a case study that demonstrates the scale of this issue in Brazil. We were able to identify and prevent millions in losses during the first month of analysis. 

Another huge issue we are seeing is cash-stashing/cash-parking, which affects approximately 70 per cent of operators. This is the process of hiding cash in unsettled game rounds to gain a risk-free shot at the bonus. As the player is not risking their cash the overall value of the bonus increases dramatically.

We have pen-tested over 200 bonus engines globally, and our finding is that 80 per cent of them have one or more bugs that can be exploited to prematurely convert bonus to cash. It’s evident that fraudsters in Brazil are particularly proficient at discovering these flaws.

These risks combined are justifiably causing a lot of anxiety when processing withdrawals. And the reaction from most operators in Brazil is to manually review player accounts for any gameplay-related risks. And it’s not just Brazil, our data shows that these issues are having a waterfall effect across other LatAm countries.

Recently, I spoke with an operator who manually reviews players’ gameplay upon withdrawals. Such a task demands the attention of an astonishing 97 personnel, amounting to 116,400 hours monthly. And yet, a significant amount of bonus abuse still goes unnoticed. 

Having spoken with dozens of operators in the market it’s clear that this is a widespread issue. It’s widely acknowledged that fast withdrawals play a crucial role in cementing brand loyalty, yet manual reviews continue to slow withdrawals.

Manual reviews are not just labour-intensive; they lack consistency. Challenges include knowledge gaps, human errors, and sudden surges in withdrawal requests. To manage the workload, operators often set arbitrary thresholds for manual reviews, which unfortunately let a significant amount of abuse pass unchecked. This situation fosters bonus abuse, leading to stricter terms, dwindling bonuses, and a diminished user experience.

Implementing penalties after an incident often involves harsh measures like confiscations. Such actions can tarnish a brand’s reputation and unintentionally punish players unaware of the terms and conditions.

Given these challenges, the need for an innovative solution is evident. Our data clearly demonstrates that timely notifications to players during the first signs of risk acts as a powerful deterrent. Grounded in Deterrence Theory, the principle is straightforward: making players aware of their actions in real-time implies you are collecting evidence that will be used to justify penalties should they continue. This drastically curtails term violations, resulting in fewer disputes, improved brand sentiment, and improved margins.

The Greco team boasts over a decade of expertise in addressing promotional abuse and fraud within the igaming sector. We have assisted over 40 operators, counting several of Brazil’s top brands among them. Leveraging this experience, Greco pioneered the industry’s first gameplay risk engine. 

This innovation automates risk analysis, freeing teams to concentrate on growth-centric tasks. Operating in real-time, Greco deters most bonus abuse attempts. For those persistent in misconduct, Greco offers a comprehensive audit trail and funnels these players away from instant withdrawals.

We’re firm believers in preserving the user experience. It’s unfair for all players to bear the brunt due to the misconduct of a few. With Greco’s targeted strategy, operators can boast a more attractive content selection, enhanced bonuses, and faster withdrawal processes.

Ready to tackle bonus abuse and ensure seamless operations? Meet the Greco team at SBC Latam and discover the future of risk management