I wrote a blog last month detailing how certain betting firms had agreed to change the way that they allowed customers to withdraw money in the wake of an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority. Now it has emerged that the CMA is furthering its investigation into the matter, with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission being forthright in its welcoming of that investigation.
What’s The Problem?
The CMA believed that some gambling firms were placing ‘unfair obstacles’ in the way of customers who were trying to withdraw their money. The original complaint was over the idea of having to play multiple times before being allowed to withdraw money that belonged to the customer in the first place. This was normally as a result of the terms and conditions of an offer, requiring punters to ‘roll over’ their deposit a certain amount of times before they would be able to withdraw any money, including that deposit.
After investigating the matter for several weeks, the Competition and Markets Authority has come across a few more areas that they believe are worthy of further investigation. One of the first issues come in the form of the limits imposed on how much money customers can withdraw and how often they can withdraw it. The CMA sited “daily, weekly or monthly limits on withdrawing funds that appear unreasonably low”.
Something else that the CMA hasn’t been impressed with certain gambling companies over is the ‘arbitrary short deadlines’ that are issued to customers, in which time they need to verify their identity in order to withdraw any funds whatsoever. There was even the possibility of losing your funds if you didn’t do what was required of you within a short period of time.
The CMA also drew specific attention to the manner in which some gambling firms would use what were called ‘dormancy terms’ in order to confiscate money of customers. This involved punters having an account with funds in it but not logging in or using the money regularly enough, therefore allowing the gambling company to take the money away and shut down the user’s account.
The UKGC’s Response
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission didn’t waste any time in confirming that they completely agreed with the CMA’s decision to launch a further investigation. The UKGC’s Programme Director, a man named Ian Angus, said, “We support the CMA’s investigation – gambling firms should not be placing unreasonable restrictions on when and how consumers can withdraw money from their online gambling accounts”.
Angus also confirmed that gambling operators have their own duty of care to their customers and should take the coming weeks to reflect on the way that they each do business at present. He continued, “While the CMA continues its enquiry, we expect all online operators to look closely at the terms and practices they have in place and consider if they are fair on their customers”.
What Happens Next?
When the Competition and Markets Authority criticised the likes of Ladbrokes, William Hill and Playtech subsidiary PT Entertainment for the manner in which they controlled the money of customers during promotional periods, all three firms responded by agreeing to change the way in which their promotions worked. Project Director at the CMA, George Lusty, said at the time that ‘Firms mustn’t stack the odds against players’.
The UKGC’s response suggests that bookmakers will respond in a similar fashion this time around, adjusting the way that they deal with the money of their customers accordingly. The CMA has confirmed that it will post regular updates on the case on their website, should you wish to be kept up to date with how the various gambling companies involved respond. I’ll also update this blog with any breaking news, so do check back here, too.