On May 19th my wife and I flew from Philadelphia to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We were going to a friend's wedding. The resort was the RIU Palace Punta Cana. This is advertised as a 5 star, all-inclusive resort. I booked the trip through Liberty Travel. After dinner on Wednesday night a group of guests decided to go over to the casino. The Casino was located within the hotel connected to our resort. It was inside the RIU Palace Macao. The casino is listed on the RIU website and on all the resort pamphlets. There are no disclaimers that the hotel does not own the casino.
When we entered the Casino a young woman greeted us at the door and said that they had a new game in the casino and gave us each a $5 chip to play the game. The dealer explained that the game was easy and if we began to play he would show us how to play. I played the game by throwing a cup full of seven red balls into a wooden wheel similar to roulette. As the balls dropped in to the various numbered holes the dealer would spin the wheel towards himself so that he could quickly count the total. I did not question this since in the beginning of the game I was winning a large amount of the time. As I later found out this is a key part of the scam. Why would anyone question a winning spin?
The goal of the game is to accumulate 100 points to win the jackpot. I quickly accumulated 99 points. Now that I was only 1 point away, the only number totals I got were the ones that doubled the amount of the next bet and jackpot. At this time the dealer slows down and shows you how the balls fell into holes that total the number that does not win any points but doubles the bet and jackpot. Since I've already gotten 99 points so quickly the thinking is that it would be easy to get just one more point. The dealer is cheering for you saying that someone just won a huge jackpot last week and he hopes that you will tip him when you win. He says that the only way the house wins is if you can't make the next bet. Since the bet and the jackpot have been doubled many times at this point it was a 10,000 bet to win 400,000. The scam is that I was never getting any of the red balls into numbered holes that would total a number that gave points to me.
As I checked online I found many similar stories of people being scammed. I felt comfortable using the Hotel casino where I was staying. It is a International corporation and it was a five star resort. As it turns out there is no casino oversight and enforcement in the Dominican Republic.
The casino manager never explained that the credit card was being used as a cash advance. They also never explained that they were charging larges fees on top of the cash advance. They charged two different credit cards for a total of $33,000.
Once went online and discovered how many people had experienced the same scam I tried to contact the hotel manger of both the RIU Palace Punta Cana and RIU Palace Macao. I left several messages and neither returned my calls or answered the phone when I called. The casino manger never returned my call either.
I contacted a customer service number for RIU Resorts. The person who answered the phone was in Mexico. They said they had no names or phone numbers of anyone I could speak to in regards to this problem. They offered me an email address. I sent an email and after a week of not getting a response I called the customer service number again. I explained that I needed a response and was given more email addresses. I got a response that told me it would be four weeks to hear back after they investigate my issue.
I called my Bank of America mastercard the next day to tell them to dispute the charges. they said that since I willingly gave the card that there was nothing they could do. I asked them to send me a dispute form anyway, which I have never received.