Online gambling

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

Contact

gambling@cma.gov.uk

Timetable

Date Action
1 March 2018 Enforcement action launched
1 February 2018 Next investigation update
23 June 2017 Update on investigation and enforcement cases opened
21 October 2016 Investigation launched

Two online gambling firms provide undertakings to CMA

29 August 2018: Jumpman Gaming Limited and Progress Play Limited have agreed to make it easier and fairer for players to withdraw their cash.

Both firms have provided undertakings to the CMA which include an agreement not to:

  • impose any maximum limit on the amount a consumer may withdraw
  • remove funds from accounts that have not been used for a specific timeframe, either through applying disproportionate charges or through confiscating the balance

Progress Play has also agreed not to:

  • remove all or part of a player’s money if they do not meet their identity verification requirements

Undertakings and further information

Further online gambling firm provides undertakings to CMA

23 March 2018: BGO Entertainment Limited has provided undertakings to the CMA in respect of the bonus promotions it offers online customers. These follow similar commitments provided by William Hill, Ladbrokes and PT Entertainment announced on 1 February 2018.

BGO has committed to be clear in its promotional terms and conditions and flag significant restrictions. It will not have terms which require people to play multiple times before allowing them to withdraw their own money; prevent them from withdrawing their full balance by minimum withdrawal limits; or could oblige players to take part in publicity.

It has also agreed that it will not include terms that could be used to unfairly change promotions after players have opted in.

CMA writes to more online gambling firms about their practices

1 March 2018: The CMA has launched enforcement action against a number of online gambling firms in respect of practices that may place unfair obstacles in the way of people withdrawing their money (whether as part of a promotion or not).

Issues of particular concern that we have raised include:

  • daily, weekly or monthly limits on withdrawing funds that appear unreasonably low
  • potentially arbitrary short deadlines on the time customers have to verify their identity as a condition of withdrawing funds, sometimes providing for forfeiture of consumer’s funds if missed
  • dormancy terms that allow firms to confiscate funds or impose apparently excessive charges after a certain period of inactivity

We will update our case page on a regular basis as the investigation progresses.

Three online gambling firms provide undertakings to CMA

1 February 2018: Ladbrokes, William Hill, and PT Entertainment have committed to change how they offer bonus promotions to customers playing online.

The firms have agreed to be more upfront and clear about their promotional terms and conditions, and to make them fairer. Players can now be sure that they can withdraw their own money when they play as part of a bonus promotion.

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

21 October 2016: The launch of this investigation follows concerns raised by the Gambling Commission about potential breaches of consumer law in the online gambling industry. The CMA has conducted an initial review of complaints information and a number of gambling firms’ promotions and terms and conditions. We are now launching an investigation to determine whether we should exercise our consumer protection powers to tackle unfair or misleading behaviour in the industry.

We are especially concerned that players may be losing out as a result of:

  • being locked into complex and strict requirements linked to gaming promotions that are difficult to understand and may be unachievable
  • companies having a wide discretion to cancel bets or alter odds after bets have been accepted, because they made a mistake when the odds were first set
  • terms restricting players’ ability to challenge a company’s decision.

The investigation is part of a joint programme of work with the Gambling Commission, to tackle issues around fairness and transparency in the gambling industry. We expect to provide an update in early 2017.

Published 21 October 2016
Last updated 30 August 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated further information for online gambling companies published.
  2. Undertakings to the CMA published.
  3. Further online gambling firm provide undertakings to CMA.
  4. CMA writes to more online gambling firms about their practices.
  5. Further information for online gambling companies published.
  6. Timetable updated.
  7. Added link to speech providing an update on the investigation.
  8. Update on enforcement action added and further call for views on withdrawal amounts.
  9. Timetable updated.
  10. Timetable updated.
  11. Update added.
  12. First published.