CMA to overhaul industry practices towards bonus t&cs
The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has begun a ‘major overhaul’ of the way gambling firms can operate online, with sweeping changes to how operators can offer bonuses and promotions to be adopted across the sector.
Three UK-facing operators – William Hill, Ladbrokes and PT Entertainment – have already agreed to the new changes, though the CMA expects that the new terms be adhered to across the industry.
The changes result from a six-month investigation launched by the CMA in 2016 to find out whether industry practices were falling foul of consumer protection law. That investigation initially led to the CMA taking enforcement action against a number of operators in summer last year.
Most striking is that operators will no longer be able insert t&cs into bonus offers or promotions that force customers to play through the bonus amount multiple times before the money can be withdrawn into a bank account. The CMA deemed it unfair that customers did not have constant access to their money.
Further terms will mean that operators must ensure that gaming restrictions are made much more clearer to customers, along with not obliging players to take part in publicity.
Operators must implement all changes by 28 February 2018, except for prompts for when users are gambling with restricted funds, which must be implemented by 31 July 2018.
George Lusty, project director at the CMA, said:
Firms mustn’t stack the odds against players, by putting unfair obstacles in their way, or making it difficult for them to stop gambling when they want to. The CMA is here to make sure businesses’ terms and practices are fair for their customers. We welcome the commitment from these leading firms to address the problems our investigation uncovered, by making important changes to their terms and conditions. We now expect others to follow, and look forward to the Gambling Commission’s continued work to make sure all operators in this sector play fair with their customers’ money.– George Lusty, project director at the CMA
Operators’ bonus offers have long been under scrutiny by both the CMA and the UK Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission, who were also involved with the investigation into the industry, welcomed the changes, with Sarah Gardner, executive director of the Commission, stating:
We back the action taken by the CMA today. Gambling firms must treat their customers fairly and not attach unreasonable terms and conditions to their promotions and offers. We expect all Gambling Commission licensed businesses to immediately review the promotions and sign up deals they offer customers and take whatever steps they need to take, to the same timescales agreed by the three operators, to ensure they comply. Operators should be very aware that we will continue to work closely with the CMA to ensure customers are getting a fair deal across the gambling industry.– Sarah Gardner, executive director at the UK Gambling Commission