CMA Tells Operators to Make Online Betting Bonuses Fair

The way online betting fans receive bonuses is set for a major shake-up thanks to a joint project between the Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

bgo fair spins.

Operators told to make betting bonuses fairer in the same way bgo did following a £300,000 fine. (Image: bgo.com)

Following an investigation into how UK operators handle bonuses and promotions, the CMA has said that wholesale changes are necessary. Although official guidance on the new operating standards won’t be published until later this year, the CMA and UKGC want players to have easier access to their own money.

Conditions Keep Your Money Locked Up

Under the current system, players that claim an online casino, sports betting or poker bonus have wager a set amount before requesting a withdrawal. Failure to meet the minimum playthrough before cashing out their own money can result in any bonus funds being lost.

This is something the CMA and UKGC want to change. Reviewing the conditions at Ladbrokes, William Hill and PT Entertainment sites, the investigation found that the wagering conditions went against consumer protection laws.

“Gambling always carries a risk, but players should never face unfair restrictions that prevent them from getting at their money. 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,” said CMA Project Director, George Lusty.

In response to the report, the aforementioned operators have already agreed to implement major changes. However, by the close of 2018, all UKGC-licensed platforms will need to adjust their terms and conditions to ensure the following principles are upheld:

“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,” reads the CMA’s February 1 notice.

UKGC Continues to Press Operators

Tackling unfair and unclear bonus conditions has been something the UKGC has been hot on over the last three years. In 2017, bgo was fined £300,000 for misleading advertising linked to its promotions.

Working with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), the UKGC found a pattern of ambiguity with regards to the conditions a player must fulfil in order to release a bonus payment. After paying a six-figure fine, bgo introduced “Fair Spins,” which allow players to keep their winnings from a bonus spin without having to place any additional bets.

This type of policy is something the CMA and UKGC now expect to see rolled out across every online betting site in the UK.

“If firms cannot comply, they must remove any promotions until they can. As the gambling regulator we will not hesitate to take action against those that do not treat their customers fairly,” said UKGC Executive Director, Sarah Gardner.

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