A letter has been published today by the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) and the Gambling Commission confirming that they have concluded their joint programme of work concerning suspected breaches of consumer protection law in the remote gambling sector, with a particular focus on:
- the fairness, transparency and potential for consumers to be misled by a number of terms and practices relating to online bonus promotions, and
- obstacles preventing withdrawal of customer funds.
Undertakings were provided to the CMA by a number of operators whereby they committed not to continue or repeat certain practices that the CMA considered were unfair. In that respect, all remote gambling operators licensed by the Gambling Commission should take particular note of the following extracts from today’s letter:
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 publicised, and all gambling firms should, by now, have amended their terms and practices to meet the requirements set out in the undertakings.
However, for you to comply fully with your consumer law and licensing responsibilities, you must go further than simply complying with the published undertakings. You need to audit all your terms and conditions, examine your business systems and practices, embed compliance and, importantly, continually review these to ensure that you maintain high standards of consumer protection in the future.
To be compliant also requires critical scrutiny of the practices of those that you deal with, including affiliates and third-party suppliers of systems, software and call centres, as you are responsible for their actions in accordance with the Commission’s Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP).
The letter can be downloaded below. We will be pleased to advise any operator who has received the letter and is unsure what it needs to do in order to ensure both present and future compliance in relation to the matters mentioned within the letter.
UPDATE: The Gambling Commission has now published helpful guidance on “Fair and transparent terms and practices” that you can download below. It addresses the following issues:
- Restrictions on withdrawing deposit and deposit winnings
- Promotional Play Restrictions
- Free bets and Account Restrictions (in relation to sports betting)
- Compulsory publicity
- Right to vary a promotion
- Maximum withdrawal limits
- Account inactivity
- Identity verification
- Glossary (definitions)
- Related information
The Commission has also pointed out that UK licensed gambling operators can also view a useful 60 second-summary to help them to review their practices and ensure terms and conditions are in line with consumer protection law