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The CMA’s fight with online gambling companies

10 July 2017

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is upping the ante against online gambling companies by increasing its enforcement action against those suspected of breaching consumer law. The CMA believes that often customers are not getting the deal they expected when signing up, due to misleading promotions and unfair terms within the promotion.

 The CMA has announced that it is concerned customers may lose out because:

  • there is not enough clear information at the outset for players to make an informed assessment as to whether they should take up the promotion;
  • they are not able to determine how much they have to wage before being able to withdraw winnings they have made from their initial deposit; and/or
  • they are subject to potentially unfair rules, ones which allow companies to deny customers a pay-out because they have not played the bet in accordance with the promotion.

The CMA is asking customers to give their feedback by 31 August 2017 on whether they have had problems taking money out of the game, been subject to unreasonably high minimum withdrawal limits, and/or entered into a promotion containing unfair terms.

Once the CMA has taken enforcement action against the gambling companies, the CMA and the Gambling Commission are intending to work together to address problem areas and give customers better protection.

The fact that the CMA and the Gambling Commission are working together is yet another warning to gambling companies that their industry is under intense scrutiny. This investigation is hot off the heels of: 1) BGO Entertainment receiving a £300,000 fine from the Gambling Commission for misleading advertising (see article here); and 2) the ICO cracking down on companies using personal data to promote online gambling (see article here). So, gambling companies need to stay vigilant.

Our gambling team benefits from in-house industry experience and are increasingly being asked to provide guidance to gambling companies going through increased regulatory scrutiny or on commercial issues such as advertising, promotions and competition law.

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