In May this year 888 Holdings – who hold the licence for all Dragonfish and Cassava bingo sites as well as dozens of slots sites – disclosed that their licence was under review by the UK Gambling Commission and part of the reason for this was rumoured to be an inadequate self exclusion system.
In the past, players who self excluded from an 888 site were told that they must not open an account at any other 888 site but in fact there appears to have been no proper system for actually preventing them from doing so. Self excluded players were reportedly able to open accounts at 888’s many new bingo sites using the same name, address, card details and other identifying information, deposit money and play – and when and if this came to light, the operator would close the account but deposits – allegedly – would not be refunded.
On 5th August, it became apparent that 888/Cassava had carried out a full audit of their self exclusion database, matching players across brands even where different email addresses or card details had been used at different sites – because everyone who had EVER self excluded at ANY 888 operated or Cassava managed site (even if it was years ago and not a bingo site) but had since opened an account at any other Cassava managed sites received the following email (one copy per account):
“Dear XXXX This is the Bingo Security Team, we are contacting you in regards to your XXXX Bingo account with username “XXXXXXXX”. As this account is related to other accounts that have been closed across our network for Responsible Gaming reasons, such as Self Exclusion, we have temporarily suspended your membership. You can contact us regarding your account status to discuss this further, or once the Self Exclusion period has expired. We apologize for any inconvenience caused. Regards, Bingo Security Department”
A further development took place on 9th August when Ignite (the operators of Costa Bingo) announced that they had reduced their minimum withdrawal to £5 for bingo brands and £10 for slots brands and removed weekly and monthly withdrawal limits; it soon became clear that this applied to all 888/Cassava/Dragonfish bingo and slots sites, not just Ignite.
On 31st August, 888 revealed the result of the Gambling Commission licence review – a massive fine of more than £7.8 MILLION. The self exclusion system was indeed one of the issues. It seems that a large number of players who had previously self excluded from 888 casino, sport or poker sites were able to register and play at 888/Dragonfish bingo sites and presumably it is these players who had their accounts suspended on 5th August. As part of the fine, those players now have to have their deposits refunded – and there are reportedly more than 7000 such players, with deposits that add up to a whopping £3.5 million!