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Cassava / 888 Bingo – Where Winners Lose And Are Banned

Following on from my previous post about Cassava banning unprofitable players, I’ve found myself on the end of a ban. Not only that, but I’ve seen a marked increase in both the amount of people being banned on the entire Cassava network, but the amount of reasons given for handing out such bans. The one thing these reasons and bans all have in common is that they fly in the face of fair play, being aimed at those that win and withdraw cash from the sites powered by Cassava.

Anatomy Of A Bingo Winner’s Ban

My ban was first proceeded with a frozen account for ‘security issues’ – I sent through ID and eventually they unfroze the account. Following that, I took advantage of a number of bonus deposit special offers, emailed to me from Foxy and Cheeky Bingo, where I once again won and withdrew the money I had won. It took but a few weeks and my account was frozen, this time for good. I am no no longer able to play at any site powered by Cassava (close to a 3rd of all UK facing bingo sites) for doing nothing more than playing offers mailed me and withdrawing any winnings I had.

First I was accused of registering multiple accounts – which is untrue. When I pointed out that there were no rules against having a single account at separate Cassava sites, they changed their tune and accused me of ‘bonus abuse.’ Now, the only bonuses I have taken advantage of have been the ones sent to me by the promotional teams – ie, deposit today to get a 150% match bonus. I explained that to the security team, but no – this is what they said:

“Please be reminded that the Company reserves the right to cancel your account for any reason whatsoever at any time without notice to you and any balance in your account at the time of such cancellation will be credited to your credit card and/or sent to you by check. It also states that the company also has the right in its unfettered discretion, to void any winnings and confiscate any balance in your Bingo account in the circumstances listed in the terms and conditions registered on the site.

David, you account was blocked because it is believe that you breached the Terms and Conditions which you agreed to upon signing up your accounts, where it states that if it is believe that a user is abusing or attempting to abuse a bonus or other promotion, or is likely to benefit through abuse or lack of good faith from a gaming policy adopted by us, then we may in our sole discretion, deny any bonus or promotion, or rescind any policy in respect of that user, either temporarily or permanently block that user’s account.”

There is nothing in the Ts and Cs about depositing and playing when sent a promotional offer, or any further explanation of what constitutes bonus abuse. So if I don’t know what I’m doing wrong (and I’m not) how can I know to stop it? I also explained I was aware of what they were doing to respectable players who won and withdrew, and that I would take the matter further. They went into child mode and have since been doing the equivalent of sticking their finger in their ears and going ‘la-la-la can’t hear you.’

I made the analogy before – about being banned from every Tesco in the country for only buying biscuits when they are on buy-one-get-one-free offers. It’s ridiculous. I’m still regularly receiving emails from the likes of Foxy Bingo, Moon Bingo, Costa Bingo and Cheeky Bingo offering me extra deposit bonuses should I deposit today, despite the fact my accounts are banned at all these sites, and I’m unable to sign up any other Cassava powered sites. Let me stress here once more, there was no bonus abuse on my part, I only ever took advantage of offers the company contacted me about and played how a normal bingo player would play.

Cassava Banning More And More Customers

And, it’s not just me – I’ve now heard from around 30-50 people who’ve been banned in the same fashion. The they all have a few things in common – they regularly remove their winnings from their account, deposit when special offers are mailed them and play free bingo games provided by the company. Now though, Cassava are adding more reasons to ban winning players who don’t leave their winnings in their accounts and spend them at the sites.

Banned For Playing The Free Bingo Games

It seems those who take advantage of the free bingo games offered at sites like Costa and Cheeky are being banned too. The reason given – they’re “abusing the free games”. Seriously, abusing the free games. What I think they really trying to say though, is you’re not paying any money into the system, you’re banned.

Gossip Bingo mentions a limit of 3 hours of free bingo a day, or 250 games a week. Strangely, this isn’t mentioned at any other sites such as Cheeky or Costa, or come to that on their advertising. Maybe the Advertising Standards Association would be interested in sites advertising themselves as free when they’re banning players for using these free services? Once again, if you don’t want people using bonus / free games supplied, don’t supply them.

Banned For Being A Bingo Couple

Also, I’ve heard from a couple of couples who play from the same house on their own separate accounts are also being banned (despite having separate account details and bank cards). Whilst I can see the potential for this to go tits up for people doing this, it is quite a common occurrence, and Cassava should find some way of checking out and verifying if the accounts are owned by separate people before banning them.

What Are Cassava Playing At?

Cassava are part of 888 Gaming, and power a large percentage of the UK’s most popular online bingo sites as well as the UK’s largest online bingo networks. It hurts me to have to bring this behaviour into the spotlight, as I’m a fan of their bingo offering, and other than these crazy bans, I’m more than happy to recommend their sites, and also happy to play at them. However, if we’re going to call out this behaviour, and ultimately try and do something about it, then we need to look at what Cassava are playing at. This is merely speculation on my part, but it fits in with what’s happening.

Firstly, the last year or so, 888 has been trying to sell itself to Ladbrokes. Many in the industry believe these bans happened to remove players who were affecting 888’s bottom line. The players banned all withdraw money, and in some cases, large amounts of it. Let me state here, this doesn’t directly affect 888 profits as all winnings come from wagering. That said, if a player takes the money out of the system and doesn’t spend it at the site in question, it drags down the company’s turnover. Removing such players would give Cassava a falsely inflated balance sheet, making it all the more attractive to Ladbrokes.

This is a moot point as Ladbrokes have pulled out of the purchase of the company, but the bans are continuing at pace. There is another reason for wanting to cull winners and in some cases keep their winnings. At the moment, 888 are in financial difficulty following their purchase of the Joy Of Bingo Network. News of this has caused their share value to drop considerably (I know, I have some…) and if the company can’t keep its cashflow and turnover looking as attractive as possible, then it could cause them further financial problems.

With this knowledge, their behaviour looks understandable, but completely flies in the face of basic gaming principles, customer service and if anything is incredibly short sighted. The company tells people that they have broken Ts and Cs and it’s their discretion to remove your account and keep your rightfully won winnings. Lovely, but the Ts and Cs at their sites are vague to say the least and give no guidelines about how to avoid falling foul of the very things they ban you for. It’s a crazy situation and Cassava seems to think it can get away with what it’s doing without consequences. Let us disabuse them of this notion.

What Can We Do?

As bingo players being short-changed, ripped-off and unfairly banned for playing bingo games in the manner we choose, we need to sort this out. We need to send a message that we won’t accept this sort of behaviour, and the only way we can do this is to stop our fellow bingo players falling foul of this sort of behaviour. We need to let them know what’s happening, and let the wider world know about this despicable behaviour.

Here’s what I propose – we need to get this to the attention of the wider media. The likes of Watchdog and other consumer programmes need to stand up for British bingo players who are being fleeced by a UK based company that’s dealing out questionable gaming services under a Gibraltar gaming license. Cassava are acting like their behaviour is acceptable and right, but they are not, and we need to let people know this.

With media pressure maybe Cassava could change their ways, but if not, the ultimate power lies with the UK Government to ban all gaming companies based outside the UK and the jurisdiction of the UK’s gaming and licensing bodies, whatever shape they take in the near future. Then these sort of practices can be held accountable to us here in the UK. With enough public pressure on MPs, this could be the ultimate goal for us UK bingo players. Yes there would be problems in the short term, as sites needed to move to the UK for licensing purposes, but I think in the long term it would benefit us the most.

We should also let the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority know that we’re not happy about what’s happened. If enough of us complain then they should take action. That said, don’t hold your breath, they share the same office buildings as Cassava, who are one of the island’s biggest gaming companies. Inaction on their part seems to be the general state of affairs, and another reason that the UK Government should look at the automatic white-listing of EU states licensing bodies. Besides that, Cassava has rejected mediation from any third parties in disputes with players, as somehow it believes it can’t be held accountable for its behaviour.

What You Can Do!

If you’ve been banned by Cassava, and believe the reason why is because you take out winnings on a regular basis, or have been accused of bonus abuse and excessive free game use, then I’ve set up a special page show you what to do. Over the next couple of months I will be gathering names of people who’ve been affected by this, and presenting my findings to various organisations and MPs, alongside developing awareness of this problem in the wider media.

If you have friends who play online bingo, warn them that regularly taking money out of Cassava powered sites can lead to a ban.

You can also complain to the ASA if you feel you have been falsely advertised to on TV by sites citing free bingo as a reason to join the site then banning you for playing to much of it. A number of Cassava powered sites also sponsor programmes on TV, so maybe you should let those programmes know what goes on from their sponsors.

The fightback starts here, let’s get it on for the rights of bingo players across the UK who want to play at Cassava’s sites without the fear of a ban for winning.

22 Comments

  1. Debra Heybourn May 5, 2011
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