Online gambling

The CMA is investigating whether online gambling companies are treating their customers fairly.

Contact

gambling@cma.gsi.gov.uk

Timetable

Date Action
January 2018 Next investigation update
23 June 2017 Update on investigation and enforcement cases opened
21 October 2016 Investigation launched

Update at the Raising Standards conference

21 November 2017: George Lusty provided an update on the CMA’s investigation at the Gambling Commission’s Raising Standards conference.

The speech set out:

  • how the CMA has conducted the investigation to date
  • why we are taking enforcement action
  • further information on our legal concerns, in particular in relation to operators’ online gaming promotions
  • the changes the CMA and the Gambling Commission are expecting all gambling operators to make in order to ensure they are complying with existing consumer protection law

Speech: Online gambling: the investigation so far and next steps (21.11.17)

Enforcement action against online gambling firms

23 June 2017: We are taking enforcement action against several online gambling firms in connection with their gaming promotions for new players, and certain aspects of their free bet promotions, that we believe are breaking consumer protection law. We are especially concerned that gamblers may be losing out because of:

  • inadequate or unclear information about the restrictions and conditions that apply to the promotion before sign-up, making it difficult to evaluate whether they should take it up
  • restrictions on their right to withdraw winnings made from gameplay with their deposit unless they meet extensive wagering requirements
  • potentially unfair rules that restrict certain play strategies, on which firms rely to deny customers a pay-out when they come to claim their winnings

On completion of our enforcement action with the firms, we will work with the Gambling Commission to deliver sector-wide change in the areas of concern identified and will also work together to drive improved compliance with consumer protection law more broadly.

Withdrawal amounts: further call for your views now closed

We’ve opened a new line of enquiry to look further into obstacles that people face when they try to withdraw their money after gaming or betting online (whether as part of a promotion or not).

  • terms preventing players from withdrawing any money they have deposited in their account unless they have wagered its value through in full once, or several times
  • requirements for players to take part in publicity or advertising activity for a firm before the player can withdraw their winnings, for example, by posing for a photo with a ‘winner’s cheque’ which is then displayed on the firm’s website
  • unreasonably high minimum withdrawal limits, for example, someone might add a £5 deposit but the minimum they can withdraw is £25, so they have to win 5 times their original deposit before they can take out their winnings
  • daily, weekly or monthly withdrawal limits that appear unreasonably low, for example, compared to the amount that can be deposited and bet over the same period, so someone might have won £10,000, but can only withdraw £1,000 a week
  • terms that place arbitrary deadlines on the time given to players to provide information to verify their identity as a condition of withdrawal

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.

Case launch

Published 21 October 2016
Last updated 7 December 2017 + show all updates
  1. Timetable updated.
  2. Added link to speech providing an update on the investigation.
  3. Update on enforcement action added and further call for views on withdrawal amounts.
  4. Timetable updated.
  5. Timetable updated.
  6. Update added.
  7. First published.