TPG warned by Commission over Cheltenham free bets

TPG warned by Commission over Cheltenham free bets

Monday, January 16, 2017 Posted by Scott Longley
Supplier acknowledges failings in ‘bonus abuse’ case

The UK Gambling Commission has highlighted how operators can learn from the failures of sportsbook trading services company TGP Europe and partner firm Fesuge in relation to bonus bets offered at the time of last year’s Cheltenham Festival.

The Isle of Man-based suppliers offered bonuses in March last year on behalf of four brands, including FUN88, TLCbet, 12Bet and 138.com, where the Commission found the terms and conditions to be “unclear and ambiguous”.

As a result of what TGP and Fesuge determined were bonus abuse issues, the pair moved to suspend over 5,000 accounts, resulting in over 1,000 cases being referred to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) involving over 800 separate individuals.

The statement from the Gambling Commission makes it clear that TPG and Fesuge made it clear from the outset of the investigation that they wished to cooperate in order to forestall any moves to suspend their UK gambling license.

The pair have since taken steps to improve the clarity of their terms and their definition of what they consider to be bonus abuse. They have also undertaken a full review of their terms specifically to ensure compliance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA).

The acceptance of fault is wide-ranging. In the finding the Commission says the companies accept they were inefficient in dealing with the sheer volume of new accounts and that the anti-fraud tools that were in place failed to identify, at the point of registration, people opening multiple accounts.

“This resulted in them being reactionary as opposed to taking a proactive approach,” the Commission said. They added that they also used “poor judgment” when using the data available to them as an indicator of bonus abuse and that the processes and procedures used as an indicator of bonus abuse “were inadequate and did not sufficiently satisfy their duty to comply with the licensing objectives.”

Finally, TGP and Fesuge also admitted that the published conditions did not make it sufficiently clear that the offer was intended for new sign-ups only. It was found that some new customers signed up to multiple accounts while existing customers also attempted to avail themselves of the offer by singing up under different names.

After an initial meeting with TGP and Fesuge, it was found that the pair were in breach of licensing conditions with regard to “fair and open play” as regards the CRA and social responsibility provisions with regard to rewards and bonuses.

TGP and Fesuge made a voluntary settlement that included the details of the case being published in order to inform and educate other operators. They also have also implanted measures to improve their processes and systems including the appointment of a solicitor to oversee a rewrite of their terms and conditions. They have also paid commission costs amounting to £7,000.

The Commission concluded: “We consider that this case provides valuable learning for remote and non-remote operators. Operators offering bonus promotions in the normal course of business and at major events must ensure that their terms and conditions comply with the requirements of the CRA and the LCCP (Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice).”

Totally Gaming says: This case adds to the pressure on the issue of bonuses that is facing UK online operators and comes at an awkward time bearing in mind the ongoing Competition and Markets Authority probe into the issue of unfair bonus conditions. The wording of the findings suggests the industry needs to do more to pay care and attention to the wording they use for these type of offers. Bonusing and rewards are not bad per se, but needless to say the industry needs to avoid any impression that they are in any way unfair or stacked against the consumer.

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