UK online bookmakers have agreed to change gambling promotion terms after increasing pressure from the regulator.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced online gambling operators have to be transparent with their bonus terms, during an investigation into fairer gaming in the UK.
The CMA found that William Hill, Ladbrokes and PT Entertainment, were at risk of breaching consumer protection law, with the betting companies agreeing alter promotions surrounding their their casino games.
The investigation revealed some terms in the promotions were unfair and could mislead punters who thought they would be able to cash out straight away, instead of wagering more to complete the requirements.
The regulator said for gambling operators to comply with the law, gamblers must be able to withdraw funds whenever they want.
“The CMA is here to make sure businesses’ terms and practices are fair for their customers,” CMA Director, George Lusty, said.
“We welcome the commitment from these leading firms to address the problems our investigation uncovered, by making important changes to their terms and conditions.”
The CMA has urged all licensed online gambling operators in the UK to adopt the same approach to changing their terms or face possible disciplinary action, meaning:
- Players won’t be required to meet wagering requirements before they can withdraw their own money
- Gambling firms have to make sure any gameplay restrictions are clarified to players, and cannot use vague terms as an excuse to confiscate players’ money
- Gambling firms must not force players to take part in publicity when collecting winnings
The changes apply to all promotions, and all terms must be clear without any inclusion of vague conditions.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has worked with CMA to determine the best practices for the whole sector, with detailed guidance expected to be published later this year.
“As the gambling regulator, we will not hesitate to take action against those that do not treat their customers fairly,” Gambling Commission executive director, Sarah Gardner, said in a media release.
“The principles set out by the CMA today make real progress in making gambling fairer and safer for customers.
“Gambling firms must now ensure that the terms applied to their promotions are clear so that customers can understand the deals they are signing up to and what they need to do to fully benefit from promotions.”
William Hill released a statement, commenting on the investigation and its willingness to be compliant with the CMA.
“We welcome the standards and principles that the CMA has outlined, and we look forward to their adoption across the industry,” the bookmaker said in the statement.
Ladbrokes Coral also commented on the outcome, stating that it realised transparency around bonus terms had “unintentionally gone too far”.
The UK bookmaker added that the rules would improve transparency.
“It is never comfortable being in the spotlight on these sorts of issues, but we are pleased that a way forward has now been identified and are committed to ensuring we meet the standards set,” the company said.
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