Update on CMA and Gambling Commission enforcement action

Update on CMA and Gambling Commission enforcement action

by Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate

At yesterday’s “Raising Standards” conference, George Lusty, Project Director at the Competitions and Markets Authority, provided an update on the ongoing enforcement action against gambling operators. It remains likely that the enforcement process will be concluded by the operators under investigation agreeing to give undertakings not to include certain provisions in their customer terms and conditions, particularly those relating to promotions.

Following the presentation, the Gambling Commission indicated that it would expect all licensees to comply with those undertakings once published, on the basis that they will relate to terms which the CMA considers breach consumer protection law. As soon as the undertakings are made public (and we do not yet have a date for this as we understand the CMA is still in discussions with the operators in question) the Commission proposes to begin reviewing T&Cs and free bet promotions and will take enforcement action against any licensees found to be in breach.

Although the text of the undertakings is yet to be published, the presentation provided a strong steer on what they will include. It is very likely that the undertakings will include the operators agreeing to:

• Ensure significant conditions of promotions are provided in a clear, timely and intelligible manner;
• Ensure all T&Cs relating to a promotion are accessible within a single click;
• Not restrict the withdrawal of sums won from a customer’s own deposited funds (as opposed to bonus funds);
• Ensure terms clearly articulate the right of customers to withdraw their own deposited funds;
• Ensure play restrictions do not apply to deposited funds;
• Provide a clear distinction between restricted bonus funds and unrestricted deposited funds;
• Articulate all types of prohibited play, without a reserved discretion;
• Clearly distinguish between play restrictions and terms necessary to address possible fraud, collusion, multiple accounts etc.
• Honour deals they offer;
• Not include terms allowing them to use customers’ personal data for promotional purposes without their consent.

Many operators have already made changes to bring their T&Cs and promotions in line with a number of these points. Some practices (in particular in relation to play and withdrawal restrictions) remain fairly common in the industry, but it is now clear that further changes will have to be made.

Given that the CMA considers non-compliance with the above points to be a breach of the law and that the Commission intends to begin enforcing compliance with these points immediately upon publication of the undertakings, we would strongly recommend that operators re-assess their customers terms and conditions, bonus terms, website and advertising material now, to ensure full compliance. If you would like our assistance with this process, either in respect of redrafting your T&Cs or providing a compliance check of your terms and promotions, please get in touch.