UK Gambling Watchdog Orders Online Operators Not to Withhold Payouts

Union jack flag and Big Ben in the background, London, UK

The Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom has ordered online gambling operators to stop using unfair terms to not pay out to customers or else it will take regulatory action.

Unfair measures from online operators

The emergence of online gambling in the 1990s was a huge deal to those who enjoyed betting, whether it was on casino games or sports. However, a lot of people held back from these online offerings because they did not trust the operators with their hard-earned money.

As time has gone on, people have become used to buying goods and services online and have no problem trusting online gambling operators with their funds.

Many operators take advantage of this trust and make it extremely hard for their users to withdraw funds from their accounts by hitting them with all sorts of unfair terms.

Usually, it involves a big win for a small stake. The player naturally is over the moon with this massive win, which could be life-changing until the operator manages to find a loophole in the fine print that means they do not have to honor that bet.

While the established online operators can absorb a significant loss and often highlight it in the media to drum up some positive press for their offerings, smaller operators are often not able to deal with these losses, so they try to avoid them.

There is an adage that the house always wins in the long run and, for a lot of online gambling operators, that’s true.

Countless players have had limits placed on their betting stakes once they have won a few bets and consistent winners are often entirely banned from a platform.

The British Racing Authority has estimated that over 20,000 user accounts were closed during the first six months in 2016 by the bookmakers. Of course, this figure does not entirely represent accounts being shut down for winning too much, but there is certainly a large portion of this figure that can be attributed to that.

One of the unfair measures that have been creeping more and more into the procedures of online operators is that of using extensive identity checks before allowing a customer to withdraw funds.

Gambling companies in the United Kingdom have spent more than £1bn ($1.3bn) on advertising since 2012, and their ads often promote seemingly lucrative bonuses for signing up. However, bettors are soon faced with extensive wagering requirements that they have to meet before they can to withdraw these bonus funds.

Most of the time, these requirements are not met, and the bonus funds disappear into thin air. This practice gets players in the door and, once they are there, they will very likely continue making deposit after deposit, chasing their losses.

Measures taken by the Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission has ordered online bookmakers to allow their customers to make withdrawals more easily. This follows an inquiry showing that unfair terms were preventing pay-outs from being made.

Operators who will not alter this approach will be facing regulatory action. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) conducted a review over the course of two years and discovered that online bookmakers often force their customers to withdraw cash in installments over a long period.

This encourages players to keep gambling with funds that they had been planning to withdraw. There were also two sites named that included in their terms and conditions that player funds can be confiscated if they don’t log in to their accounts for a specified period.

Customers have made countless complaints through the years, which led to the inquiry. Online operators were found to have changed the odds on winning bet and to have placed heavy restrictions on accounts that won often. Some operators also unfairly used anti-money laundering requirements to stop withdrawals from being made while not conducting a similar check for losing customers.

Campaigners expressed their happiness at the results of this inquiry but did question why no fines had been handed out.