If you’ve ever been irritated by the amount of time it takes to withdraw funds you will be pleased to know that online gambling companies are being investigated by the CMA
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching an inquiry to find out whether gambling companies including some of the biggest online casinos are treating their customers fairly. With about 5.5 million Britons regularly logging on betting sites nowadays, the CMA which has as some of its responsibilities to investigate possible breaches of prohibitions against anti-competitive agreements under the Competitive Act 1998 and enforcing consumer protection legislation, particularly the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Directive and Regulations, will be investigating if the gambling industry is breaking the law by making it hard for these Britons to win.
This non-ministerial government department (CMA) points out that gambling shouldn’t be a con and today we can see them taking necessary measures to make sure it is not as they have started a review demanding betting websites to defend themselves against allegations that they use ‘misleading promotions’ and ‘unfair terms’ to trick customers. This review is known to have been triggered by numerous complaints from gamblers who feel they have been deceived by an industry that wins about €4 billion a year from its customers.
The Gambling Commission is expected to work together with CMA on this inquiry. While CMA’s senior director, Nisha Arora points out that: ‘Gambling inevitably involves a risk, but it shouldn’t be a con. The CEO of the Gambling Commission, Sarah Harrison also said, ‘Gambling, by its very nature, is always going to involve risk. But customers must trust that if they win, they will not end up feeling the deck is ricked against them due to an obscure condition they did not understand.
With the regulator getting worrying complaints from customers suggesting that betting customers may be tricked into signing up promotions and unfair complex conditions that give them very little chance to win, it could be suggested that the statement from its Senior Director may be made based on these complaints. On the other hand, the statement from the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission may be seen as an assurance to gamblers that they will always get the money they win. A case to consider is Chris Sattin’s from Gloucester who played roulette on Maria Casino’s website and won €35,000, but he was not allowed to withdraw it because the company felt he breached their terms and condition by having an account with their sister company Unibet. But when Chris told the Radio 4’s You and Yours and they contacted Maria Casino about his case, the company decided to pay him.
Some customers complain that gambling firms such as poker websites advertise attractive welcome bonuses that may go up to thousands of pounds or offer free bet; but they will usually have relatively smaller prints which in some cases may disqualify particular games while in other cases, customers may be required to spend a certain amount of money before they are qualified to enjoy the bonus.
This inquiry will, therefore, evaluate if these customers are being tricked into signing unfair complex conditions or if they were treated fairly but their failure to understand the terms made them feel they were not. This investigation could see enforcement actions taken against gaming sites found guilty or prosecute them in the courts.
The CMA will also investigate if gamblers find it difficult to withdraw their deposit in case they decide to stop playing. Online poker sites, as well as bingo websites, will be the among the target of the CMA.