UK Regulator To Crackdown On Misleading Advertising By Online Gaming Operators
UK regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned that it will soon be cracking down on online casinos breaking consumer laws through misleading advertising.
The ads in question are generally sign-up ads which promise cash and bonuses despite having long odds. The promotional ads offer attractive benefits like a £10 bonus given when a customer bets an equal amount. However CMA found that these tactics often result in
gamblers being forced to pay hundreds of times before they could withdraw the bonus money.
CMA recently concluded an eight-month probe into the online gaming industry carried out in conjunction with the Gambling Commission. As a part of the probe, regulators examined nearly 800 complaints made by consumers against the online gaming operators. The probe also included a study of numerous websites belonging to these online gaming operators.
In a statement, Nisha Arora, a senior official at CMA’s consumer enforcement unit said,
We know online gambling is always going to be risky, but firms must also play fair. New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them. And players can find a whole host of hurdles in their way when they want to withdraw their money.
The operators are accused of misleading consumers with regards to the terms and conditions of the promotions which are deliberately made confusing and unclear, resulting in consumers getting trapped. The companies further have policies that actively hinder customers from withdrawing their money from their accounts. Some companies have minimal withdrawal amounts that are larger than the initial deposit, while others unfairly put up obstacles to withdrawing the cash.
The Competition and Markets Authority did not name any specific companies but said that it would be taking action against a number of operators identified as a part of its probe. UK regulators are increasing their scrutiny of the country’s online gaming industry which is estimated to be around $5.7 billion in a bid to clampdown on practices that take advantage of consumers.
Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison has hinted that the licenses of online operators found breaking consumer laws would be in danger. She said that while the CMA would pursue legal action based on consumer legislation, the Gambling Commission would be reviewing the conditions of the license for those accused of breaching gaming laws.
Analysts expect that the regulator would levy significant fines on operators found guilty and the fines would increase for repeat offenders.