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UK CMA to launch investigation of online gambling firms

Staff Writer | October 21, 2016
The Competition and Markets Authority has announced plans to launch an investigation into whether online gambling companies treat their customers fairly after the Gambling Commission raised concerns about potential breaches of consumer law.
Sarah Harrison
Games and money   Online gambling has grown by around 146%
The competition regulator said the breaches include misleading promotions and unfair terms being used by companies to block payouts to customers.

Online gambling has grown by around 146% since 2009 and there are currently more than 5.5 million people regularly logging on to sports betting, gaming and casinos using gambling websites.

The CMA is concerned that customers might be losing out by being locked into complex requirements linked to gaming promotions that are difficult to understand and may be unachievable.

These can include terms that require people to play for longer than they had bargained for before they can withdraw money.

The regulator also highlighted concerns that players may not be able to withdraw what remains of their deposit, and any winnings, when they want to stop playing.

In addition, the CMA pointed out that companies have a wide discretion to cancel bets or change the odds after bets have been accepted because they made a mistake when the odds were set.

Nisha Arora, CMA senior director for consumer enforcement, said: "We're worried players are losing out because gambling sites are making it too difficult for them to understand the terms on which they're playing, and may not be giving them a fair deal. We are now investigating to see whether firms are breaking the law."

Gambling Commission CEO Sarah Harrison said: "Gambling, by its very nature, is always going to involve risk but customers must have faith that if they win, they will not end up feeling that the deck is stacked against them because of an obscure condition that they did not properly understand."