In the United Kingdom, the Competition and Markets Authority regulator is reportedly set to initiate enforcement actions against a number of online gambling operators that are suspected of breaking consumer laws by offering sign-up promotions that involve erroneous promises of bonus cash or free wagers.
According to a report from the Bloomberg news service, the Competition and Markets Authority recently completed an eight-month probe that closely examined play on a range of online gambling and casino websites and discovered around 800 unhappy customers. This investigation also led to the regulator demanding answers from several firms about how they operate as some allegedly offered bonus cash to new players that made a first deposit although this money was only able to be withdrawn after these punters had played through hundreds of times.
The Competition and Markets Authority reportedly declared that it was concerned that some of these sign-up promotions came with “an array of terms and conditions” that were “often confusing and unclear” and, in some cases, “may be unfair.”
“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,” read a statement from the Competition and Markets Authority.
The Competition and Markets Authority further reportedly stated that it has concerns that some operators are “stopping customers taking money out of their accounts” even if they had not signed up for such a first-time deposit promotion due to the imposition of “hurdles” such as “minimum withdrawal amounts far bigger than the original deposit.”
“We know online gambling is always going to be risky but firms must also play fair,” read a statement from Nisha Arora, Consumer Enforcement Senior Director for the Competition and Markets Authority. “People should get the deal they’re expecting if they sign up to a promotion and be able to walk away with their money when they want to. Sadly, we have heard this isn’t always the case. New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them and players can find a whole host of hurdles in their way when they want to withdraw their money. That’s why we are today launching enforcement action where we think the law has been broken. We are also asking people who have had difficulties withdrawing their money when they’ve gambled online to tell us about it and help probe this issue even further.”
Although the Competition and Markets Authority did not specifically name companies that may be facing enforcement actions, it did reportedly proclaim that it had identified “a number of operators” that it believed had engaged in practices “likely to be breaking consumer law.” The regulator moreover stated that it has “a range of powers at its disposal to bring any illegal activities to an end.”
“Gambling operators must treat customers fairly but some have been relying on terms that are unclear with too many strings attached,” read a statement from Sarah Harrison, Chief Executive Officer for the Gambling Commission. “While the Competition and Markets Authority takes enforcement action on how consumer legislation is followed, 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 license and take decisive action.”