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Gambling Commission and CMA Join Forces Over Consumer Protection Breaches

Consumer Protection on KeyboardThey are two of the biggest and most powerful organisations that can act in the betting sector.

The UK Gambling Commission is the governmental body that hands out licences to only the best operators who meet their stringent requirements, while protecting the rights of bettors to a fair and secure gaming experience.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), meanwhile, is a group responsible for ensuring that all industries remain competitive while acting on activities that counteract such a mission.

The two organisations have joined forces in recent times to tackle issues in the gambling sector, and this week they released a letter which confirmed the outcomes of their investigation.

In it they reflected on their studies into alleged breaches of consumer protection law; with particular reference to those who have been duped by the terms and conditions of welcome bonuses and promotions offered by many betting platforms, and also instances where punters have been blocked from withdrawing winnings.

The Commission and the CMA’s aim was to minimise the risk of breaches of ‘fairness, transparency and the potential for consumers to be misled’, and their investigation has been one of the most rigorous and game-changing in the industry for quite some time.

And the result? Already six firms that provided undertakings to the study have committed to changing the way they operate in order to protect their customers. These are:

  • Ladbrokes/Coral
  • William Hill
  • BGO
  • PT Entertainment (Winner Casino, Titan Bet)
  • Jumpman Gaming
  • ProgressPlay

Letter of the Law

Legal Correspondence

The open letter confirms that operators who do not comply with the undertakings as published by the report will be punished severely.

“Our joint work provided a sharp focus on aspects of online gambling and exposed significant shortcomings within the sector that had undermined consumer trust and confidence,” one section read.

“The Commission mandated that all gambling firms would need to comply with the requirements set out in the published undertakings, not just those firms that agreed to them.

“The findings from this work, and our expectations of you, have been well publicised, and all gambling firms should, by now, have amended their terms and practices to meet the requirements set out in the undertakings.”

And this report has not been published as a sort of one-off, here today gone tomorrow style clampdown: the changes are very much here to stay into the future. The letter reaches out directly to betting firms, stating:

“You need to audit all your terms and conditions, examine your business systems and practices, embed compliance and, importantly, continually review these to ensure that you maintain high standards of consumer protection in the future.”

One of the key areas the partnership focused on was so-called ‘dormancy charges’, i.e. where a punter has an account with a bookmaker or online casino but doesn’t make a deposit or place a bet for a given period of time.

Under the old terms and conditions, operators were allowed to charge individuals for their inactivity, but as part of the Gambling Commission and CMA’s report this will become a thing of the past.

“We have also identified concerns with some firms where players do not make a withdrawal or place a bet over a number of weeks or months. In particular, some firms have terms which apply ‘dormancy’ charges to players’ accounts after a period of inactivity, or terms which remove all funds from inactive accounts, regardless of the size of the balance.

“If we identify firms who we think are breaking the law in relation to these issues, we will take further enforcement action.”