UK Watchdog Targets Unfair Promotional and Withdrawal PracticesJune 23, 2017 10:10 am
The UK has one of the most liberal and best organized online gambling markets in the world, which is reflected in its fast growing revenues which reached £4.5 billion between April 2015 and March 2016. Helping to promote fair competition within the industry for the benefit of consumers is the country’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which recently signalled its intention to clampdown on operators suspected of giving their customers a raw deal.
In October 2016, the CMA launched an investigation into illegal practices being conducted by firms within the gambling sector, and has since concluded that a number of them have been “breaking consumer law” by not giving their customers the “deal they are expecting”. Commenting upon the issue, Nisha Arora, CMA senior director for consumer enforcement, explained that new customers are drawn to various sites through misleading promotional offers, with players also subsequently experiencing a whole host of difficulties when it comes to withdrawing their money.
In some cases, the CMA concluded that “customers might have to play hundreds of times before they are allowed to withdraw any money, so they don’t have the choice to quit while they’re ahead and walk away with their winnings when they want to.”
Furthermore, the CMA found that firms often discourage withdrawals by setting minimum withdrawal amounts that are far in excess of their customers’ original deposits, or by setting several additional hurdles which complicates them withdrawing their money. As a result, the watchdog has been in contact with certain operators to correct the situation, with those not complying in time facing the possibility of being taken to court, receiving large fines, or even losing their online gambling license all together. As Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, explains:
“The gambling industry should be under no illusion that if they don’t comply with consumer law, we will see this as a breach of their operating licence, and take decisive action.”