The United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has named Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play as the leading bingo sites in the country in restricting players from withdrawing their winnings. They have been accused of erecting hurdles in the form of policies with an aim of causing players to continue gambling.
The move by CMA to name and shame Progress Play and Jumpman Gaming followed the release of an investigative report that was published towards the end of August this year. For the past two years, CMA has been undertaking an investigation on bingo firms’ release of players’ winnings.
Online bingo players in the UK have for many years in the recent past complained about restrictions that bingo sites imposed on withdrawals. The players are left in a state where they cannot access their money despite having worn it because of the unfair practices by bingo sites. Their complaints were taken up by CMA where it sought to understand the issue through an in-depth investigation.
The investigation found that some of the bingo sites in the UK market operate dubious policies which are a violation of customer rights. The authority cited a case where bingo sites state in their terms and conditions that players’ balances will be seized if their accounts remain inactive for a given period of time. CMA viewed this detrimental policy as a way of compelling players to gamble more. CMA also found that in some of the cases, winnings are confiscated if bingo players do not show proof of their identity within a given period.
The report also found that bingo sites were restricting the amount that a player can withdrawal at a time. Worse still, other bingo sites were found to be using money laundering controls in a selective manner with a view of delaying withdraws from the winning accounts.
Commenting on the investigative report, George Lusty, senior director at CMA said that individuals who opt to bet in the online bingo sites should be allowed to walk away with their winnings anytime that they desire. Progress Play operates on a business to customer and business to business basis. Jumpman Gaming provides an underpinning of other sites through a business to business engagement. It also operates on a business to customer basis by offering slot sites and online bingo.
The UK Gambling Commission has taken up the issues mentioned in the report and emphasized on the need for operators to offer fair policies to players. It warned that bingo operators engaging in the dubious practices would face strict actions.
Commenting on the issue, Paul Hope, the executive director of UKGC said, “Gambling firms should not be placing unreasonable restrictions on when and how customers can take money out of their accounts.” He urged operators to align their policies with the findings in the CMA’s report.
After their naming and shaming, Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play agreed to scrap the restrictions they had been applying on customer withdrawals. Speaking on the issue, George Lusty confirmed that Progress Play had agreed to do away with its ID check response times and warned other bingo operators that action will be taken against them if they do not follow suit.
CMA and UKGC have been working together to intensify they oversight in the gambling sector. Their efforts have seen UKGC impose fines to operators for violations of betting laws by tenfold in the last financial year 2017/2018 compared to the previous years.
UKGC has warned that unless bingo sites observe standards, fines and penalties will “escalate relentlessly.”