As foreshadowed in a presentation at last November’s Gambling Commission Raising Standards conference, the CMA has this morning published a press release (that can be downloaded below), explaining that as a result of:
- cases opened against a number of online gambling operators in mid-2017 and
- a new line of enquiry to look further into obstacles that people face when they try to withdraw their money after depositing funds and gaming or betting online (whether as part of a promotion or not,
three gambling operators – William Hill, Ladbrokes and PT Entertainment (that trades as titanbet.co.uk and winner.co.uk) – have provided undertakings to the CMA.
Under those undertakings, they formally commit to change the way they offer bonus promotions. This will ensure that customers can always access and release their own money. They have also agreed to be more upfront and clear in the terms and conditions of their bonus promotions.
In particular, the changes mean that in future:
- players won’t be required to play multiple times before they can withdraw their own money,
- gambling operators must ensure that any restrictions on gameplay are made clear to players, and cannot rely on vague terms to confiscate players’ money, and
- gambling operators must not oblige players to take part in publicity.
You can download below the undertakings provided by William Hill. The same undertakings have been provided by Ladbrokes and PT Entertainment, save for that numbered 14 in the William Hill list of undertakings.
The CMA states that: “these landmark changes must now be adopted across the sector. Firms not doing so will face regulatory action from the Gambling Commission”. Under the above-mentioned undertakings, the majority of practices must be amended by 28 February 2018, with a later date of 31 July 2018 for the implementation of prompts for consumers when they are playing with restricted funds.
The promotions that came under particular scrutiny are designed to attract players onto casino-like gaming websites by offering bonus funds when players put in their own money. The CMA found that certain terms in these promotions were likely to be ‘unfair’, in breach of consumer protection law, and could mislead consumers. The CMA had particular concern that people could be made to play for longer than they had bargained for before being able to withdraw their own money.
The press release makes clear that further enforcement activity by the CMA in the online gambling sector is ongoing. It states: “the CMA will continue to look at obstacles facing customers trying to withdraw their money after gambling online – whether as part of a promotion or not. This includes considering terms that force players to withdraw prize money in small instalments over a long period of time, and terms which allow firms to confiscate funds if they haven’t been played with for a few months”.
- You can read here about the CMA’s “60-second summary” list of “Do’s and Don’ts for the online gambling industry” published alongside its press release.
- You can read here about the Gambling Commission’s threat of enforcement action in the event that steps are not taken within the above-mentioned timescales by all online gambling operators to comply with the same consumer protection law requirements as are set out in the undertakings given by William Hill, Ladbrokes and PT Entertainment.