| CMA says
£4.5bn industry sometimes treats customers unfairly and it is taking
action against a number of operators
online gambling industry is facing a clampdown after the UK competition
watchdog accused companies of unfairly treating customers and potentially
breaking consumer law.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said
people were not getting the deal they expected from sign-up promotions and
operators were unfairly holding on to customers money.
naming specific companies, the CMA said it was taking action against a
number of operators suspected of breaking the law and would use its
powers to end any illegal activities.
We know online gambling is
always going to be risky, but firms must also play fair, said Nisha
Arora, the CMA senior director for consumer enforcement. People should
get the deal theyre expecting if they sign up to a promotion, and be able
to walk away with their money when they want to.
Sadly, we have
heard this isnt always the case. 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
It follows an eight-month investigation into the
£4.5bn sector by the CMA, working with the Gambling Commission, which
regulates the industry. Regulators have heard from approximately 800 unhappy
customers during the course of the investigation, and have scrutinised play on
a range of websites.
The Gambling Commission chief executive, Sarah
Harrison, suggested online gambling firms found to be breaking the law could
lose their licences. The gambling industry should be under no illusion
that if they dont comply with consumer law, we will see this as a breach
of their operating licence, and take decisive action, she said.
Firms are accused of misleading customers over the terms and conditions
of sign-up promotions, aimed at attracting new players on to casino-like gaming
websites by offering bonus cash when they put in their own money.
CMA said customers were sometimes forced to play hundreds of times before they
were allowed to withdraw money, denying them the choice to quit while
Online betting firms now have chance to
respond to the CMA, which said if necessary it would take action through the
courts to force companies to end illegal activities.