Online gambling operators given until 3 April 2018 to change bonus promotions

We have reported previously on the undertakings given by Ladbrokes, William Hill, and PT Entertainment in response to the CMA’s concerns that certain terms in their bonus promotions were likely to be unfair, in breach of consumer protection law, and could mislead their customers.

Following a CMA investigation (in collaboration with the Gambling Commission), it has been announced that a further gambling operator – BGO Entertainment Limited – has also now given an undertaking to change the way it offers bonus promotions to customers playing online games, formally committing that it will be clear in the terms and conditions of such promotions, and that it will prominently flag any significant restrictions to players. It will not have terms that:

  • require people to play multiple times before allowing them to withdraw their own money,
  • prevent them from withdrawing their full balance by minimum withdrawal limits or
  • could oblige players to take part in publicity.

The CMA has said that “before entering into these commitments with the CMA, BGO had already made welcome changes to address some of the CMA’s concerns, such as removing restrictions on winnings from cash deposits”.

George Lusty, CMA Senior Director for Consumer Protection, added: “Gambling firms should not have terms that could be used to catch players out by unfairly changing their promotions after a customer has opted in. We are therefore pleased that BGO has pledged to make these important changes. Following the CMA’s action, the gambling industry is rightly taking steps to overhaul online terms and conditions that could be misleading or unfair”.

In a news item posted on 23 March 2018, the Gambling Commission has stated that it expects operators to remove any similarly unfair terms they may have by 3 April 2018.

Ian Angus, Programme Director at the Gambling Commission is quoted as saying: “It’s very important that consumers feel that the odds are not stacked against them when they gamble and we expect all online operators to look closely at their terms and practices to ensure they treat customers fairly. We will soon commence a programme of compliance activity and if necessary we will not hesitate to take robust regulatory action.”

Both the CMA and Gambling Commission announcements can be downloaded below, as too can be the formal undertaking given by GBO to the CMA.