UK gambling operators could be in trouble following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
According to an official government statement, the Gambling Commission has called into question the player payment practices of some online operators.
Taking up the issue, the CMA conducted an initial review of the way online poker, casino and sports betting sites dealt with player winnings and, additionally, how withdrawal terms and conditions are explained.
Operators Must Make Policies Clear
That report highlighted a number of potential issues, which has promoted the CMA to issue Information Notices to iGaming license holders in the UK.
Under the conditions of the notice, operators will be required to submit information about their policies with regards to withdrawals and win payments.
As well as asking operators for clarification of their policies, the CMA is calling on UK players to provide accounts of their experiences online. Following this initial step, the CMA will then take matters further if it finds evidence that operators are deliberately misleading players.
At the heart of the matter is the criticism that players are having their winning bets cancelled, while others are finding withdrawal processes long, complex and confusing. The suggestion is that players are being kept online for longer than is necessary in an attempt to extract more money out of them.
Gambling Commission Prepared to Take Action
Under the licensing terms outlined by the Gambling Commission, all operators have a duty of care to their players and must ensure responsible gaming provisions are available at all times.
If the CMA finds evidence that operators are making it difficult for players to claim wins, withdraw cash and limit their time online, then it could not only impose its own sanctions. Moreover, it could recommend that the Commission revokes an operator’s license.
“Gambling inevitably involves taking a risk, but it shouldn’t be a con. 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,” said Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director for Consumer Enforcement.
Although the investigation is far from ideal for operators, it does show that the UK is a world leader when it comes to iGaming regulation. Since Gambling Commission imposed a strict licensing code on UK-based operators back in 2014, the safety of players has become a hot topic.
In 2014 the Commission revoked the license of Bet Butler (this was before the November 2014 licensing deadline) because of concerns over withdrawal times. Although the delays in this case were due to a lack of liquidity, it certainly shows the power of the Commission and should serve as a warning to operators that may be contravening their licensing conditions.