Gambling firms told to stop unfair online promotions

Gambling firms told to stop unfair online promotions

Friday, February 2, 2018 Posted by Craig Davies
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Follows joint Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Gambling Commission investigation

Operators have been ordered to change the way they offer bonus promotions, after a joint Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Gambling Commission investigation.

Finding certain terms in such promotions could be deemed to be “unfair, in breach of consumer protection law, and could mislead consumers,” firms have been instructed to take immediate steps to address the issues.

Amongst the promotions under most scrutiny, the CMA report states that some “are designed to attract players onto casino-like gaming websites by offering bonus funds when players put in their own money.”

The Gambling Commission has instructed that the whole sector must be prompt in addressing concerns raised, with three operators, Ladbrokes, William Hill and PT Entertainment, a Playtech subsidiary, already committed.

Those found not to be adapting the changes have been warned that they will face regulatory action from the Commission.

A trio of factors set out by the CMA states that:

  • Players won’t be required to play multiple times before they can withdraw their own money
  • Gambling firms must ensure that any restrictions on gameplay are made clear to players, and cannot rely on vague terms to confiscate players’ money
  • Gambling firms must not oblige players to take part in publicity

While a list of do’s and don’ts have also been released for the online gambling industry:

Do:

  • Regularly review your terms and practices to ensure they are fair and comply with consumer law
  • Clearly and promptly communicate terms and conditions so customers know what to expect
  • Give customers the information they need to decide if a promotion is right for them
  • Allow customers to exit promotions at any time with their remaining deposit, plus any winnings from play with their deposit, and make this opportunity clear to them
  • Ensure customers can clearly distinguish between playing with bonus funds and playing with their own money

Don’t:

  • If you offer customers a ‘free bet’, don’t change the deal once they have started playing
  • Deny customers access to their own money - including their deposits and winnings earned from their deposits
  • Attach complicated or unfair play restrictions to customer deposits
  • Require customers to take part in publicity

Industry marketing veteran Harry Lang has been speaking to TotallyGaming.com about the report, and its prospective changes: “I fully support and agree with the CMA's mandate around gaming promotions. This is about delivering a more transparent and fair experience to bettors, and that can only be a positive step on gaming's journey to credibility and acceptance.

“However potentially the most disruptive point for me in the CMA's 'do's and dont's' is bullet number 4 - allow customers to exit promotions at any time with their remaining deposit, plus any winnings from play with their deposit, and make this opportunity clear to them".

“Whilst this looks like a reference to welcome and reload bonuses only it also suggests that jackpot winnings will also come under the same scrutiny.

“With delayed jackpot payouts and play-through requirements, casinos have traditionally had the opportunity to 'earn back' a significant percentage from winners - a huge revenue injection that can turn a good year into a great year.

“In my opinion, it's only fair and proper that players get to keep all their winnings but these new rules means operators are going to have to work harder to make up the inevitable shortfall.   

Totally Gaming says: In its report the CMA and Gambling Commision state that the aim of the report is to stamp out unfair promotions that trap players money. Steps and changes set out offer more transparency between operators and players, and can only be a positive step moving forward.

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