Back in October of 2017, I wrote about how LeoVegas had bought Royal Panda in a deal worth an initial €60 million. Little of note took place in the months and years that followed, with the exception of LeoVegas being issues with a penalty by the Gambling Commission in 2018.
Indeed, it seemed as though life was carrying on as normal when Royal Panda announced in December of last year that the site was launching the Red Tiger slots collection on its site. However it now appears that the website is being withdrawn from the UK market, starting with a refusal to take new customers from the sixth of January 2020.
The exact details of what has happened remain sketchy at this point, though what we do know is that Royal Panda have released information on their website that they will ‘no longer be operating in the UK from 31 January 2020’. They have decided to break the process of leaving the market into three phases, which are as follows:
- New players from the UK will no longer be able to join the site from the eighth of January 2020
- From the twentieth of January, players in the United Kingdom will be unable to place sports bets or make deposits into their accounts
- By the thirty-first of January, UK-based players will be unable to access their accounts
The reasoning behind Royal Panda’s decision to exit the UK market hasn’t been explicitly pointed out by the company. That has led some to speculate that it might be linked to the UKGC’s decision to punish LeoVegas for misleading advertising and poor handling of customers that had entered self-exclusion.
The LeoVegas Fine
The fine issued to LeoVegas in May of 2018 was based on the fact that the betting company was ‘responsible for forty-one misleading adverts’, as well as a failure to return funds to more than eleven thousand customers after they had chosen to close their account in the wake of a self-exclusion period.
They’d also sent marketing material to nearly two thousand people who had self-excluded and therefore shouldn’t have been received them. On top of that, LeoVegas also allowed customers who had self-excluded to place bets without putting a cooling-off period on their accounts or communicating with them about their decision.
LeoVegas were issued with a £600,000 fine, as well as having to pay the Gambling Commission’s costs and divesting itself of any funds that were received as a result of their failings as found by the UKGC. Quite why this incident would have led LeoVegas to decide to shut down Royal Panda isn’t exactly clear, but it’s easy to make a link.
What It Means For Customers
The obvious question for anyone with a Royal Panda account is about what happens next. The good news is that you have plenty of time to act if you start doing so now. The most important thing to do is to withdraw any cash balance that you have as soon as possible, if for no other reason than your account will become inaccessible after the thirty-first of January and you’d then not be able to get access to your money.
Once the cut-off date has passed, Royal Panda will make active attempts to ensure that funds are released to users via the method with which they added to their balance in the first place. Should your original payment method no longer be valid to receive payments, the Royal Panda team will attempt to contact you via email in order to arrange an alternative way of getting your money to you. Should money still be with them after twelve months it will be donated to BeGambleAware.
Given that Royal Panda have had limits in the past on how little users could withdraw, they will be relaxed from the twentieth of January. Up to that date you’ll be able to withdraw £10 or more, with that amount being dropped to £1 or more from the twentieth. If you either have less than £1 to withdraw or else haven’t been able to access your account by the end of January then you’ll be able to contact customer services and they’ll help you out.
What About Outstanding Bets?
Withdrawing money from your account is all well and good, especially if you have the time and ability to access it before the end of January. Yet what is the plan for customers who have bets still pending with Royal Panda? After all, it’s not uncommon for people to place ante-post bets on events such as the Champions League or Grand National.
Any bets placed before the twentieth of January on an event that doesn’t settle until after the thirty-first of the month will be made void, resulting in your stake being returned to you. If you’ve already placed a bet with Royal Panda for an event that doesn’t occur or settled until after the end of the month then the company’s representatives will be in touch with you to discuss what will happen next to your stake money and any potential winnings.
The final thing of note is regarding bonus balance. If you have a bonus balance in your Royal Panda account then you’ll have until the end of January to meet any wagering requirements attached to it. If you fail to do so by that date then your bonus balance will be reset to zero. The key thing to remember is that wagering requirements must be met with cash balance and you won’t be able to make cash deposits after the twentieth of January.