A number of processes have been announced recently by the Gambling Commission to tackle shoddy business practice in the UK. A joint investigation with the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) is now complete and it came with regulatory punishments for six major gambling firms.
Earlier this week a letter was published signed by George Lusty, senior director of the CMA, and Paul Hope, executive director of the Gambling Commission, outlining the findings of the recent joint investigation. The investigation arose from a suspected breach of consumer protection law.
The investigation itself mainly focused on fairness, transparency, and the potential for consumers to be misled by confusing terms and practices relating to online bonus promotions, and on obstacles preventing a timely withdrawal of customer funds.
Six Well-Known Gambling Businesses Investigated
The investigation has resulted in significant changes to policies by the following firms: Ladbrokes, William Hill, PT Entertainment, BGO, Jumpman Gaming, and Progress Play.
The main concerns involved bonuses and restrictions on customers being able to withdraw their money. All these companies have agreed to enforce the following policies that were highlighted in the investigation:
▪ It will not be compulsory for players to play multiple times before they can withdraw their own money.▪ Firms must ensure that any restrictions on gameplay are made clear to players, and cannot rely on vague terms to take players’ money.▪ Gambling companies cannot make players take part in publicity to collect winnings.
The letter says: “Our joint work provided a sharp focus on aspects of online gambling and exposed significant shortcomings within the sector that had undermined consumer trust and confidence. The Commission mandated that all gambling firms would need to comply with the requirements set out in the published undertakings, not just those firms that agreed to them. The findings from this work, and our expectations of you, have been well publicized, and all gambling firms should, by now, have amended their terms and practices to meet the requirements set out in the undertakings.”
All six of these companies have agreed to discard the practices that the CMA deemed unfair and its impact seems to have been felt across the entire gambling sector.
Expectations Set out for the Whole Gambling Sector
The letter also included some positive advice: “We have seen indications of the wider sector working to make changes to the way in which promotions are constructed and promoted to consumers. Recent figures from the Independent Betting Adjudication Service highlighted a significant reduction in the number of disputes raised by consumers over bonuses and other promotions.”
The report ended by urging all gambling firms to comply fully with consumer law and licensing responsibly and reminded them to go even further by auditing all terms and conditions, frequently examining systems and practices, and continually reviewing them to ensure that a high standard is kept.
Finally, it reminded all operators that if consumer law is not complied with, the Gambling Commission can and will take further action.