UK CMA to investigate fairness in online gambling

vinylweatherman

You type well loads
Joined
Oct 14, 2004
Location
United Kingdom
.... as I was saying earlier, and kept getting shot down with "players must read the term and conditions.......", and ideas that the concept of unfairness was not a legal "thing", and that if the terms are broken, there is nothing that the player can do but learn a lesson the hard way.

Now of course, players who have suffered a loss of winnings that they feel was the result of a genuine "honest mistake", complex terms that would require a law degree to understand, or even outright misleading marketing where the terms are designed to render the advert a lie, need to give this enquiry their cases to look at.

Casinos need to really look at their terms, and compare them with UK law, and where they fall short, make changes now, not after any sh1t hits the fan post inquiry.

There are may cases where the terms are a mess, the result of too much "cut & paste" from other sites as opposed to properly thought out and well written bespoke terms for that one site and they way it does promotions.

There may be value in third party representation, but I expect they really want to hear from the players affected by losing winnings they expected to receive, rather than third parties suggesting hypothetical situations that may result from a messy or predatory set of terms.
 

RichyJ75

Has been a very naughty boy ...
PABnonaccred
Joined
Apr 3, 2015
Location
Kent
.... as I was saying earlier, and kept getting shot down with "players must read the term and conditions.......",


All well and good reading the T&C's, except as we know, the casino operator can easily change the T&C's without informing the players and unless you have a printed dated version of the T&C's, once changed on the website the original version simply disappears!

I had an experience with Cosmik Casino and their 'irregular bets' scenario and wagers exceeding 30% of the last deposited amount. They simply stated that 'single bets' must not exceed 30% of the deposit. I done a boo boo after a nice winning spell and increased my bets on the slots to a total equivalent of about 35% of last deposit. All my winnings were confiscated (even the few £100 won prior to upping my stake). I argued that the 'single bet' stake is the amount wagered per line, basically because I had a win of 200x stake per line (as in a single bet). They argued that they deem a single bet to be the total wagered per spin, even though any win is based on each single line, not on the total amount wagered. Afterall, how can a single bit be made up of multiple bets?!?!? Likewise if you played 5 hands of BJ at once instead of 5 lines on a slot, they deemed the single bet to be made up of multiple individual bets each with their own payout and still confiscated winnings! If you have the option to bet on 1 line or 9 lines, then surely any single bet value is based on each line selected? Yes, I am being petty over this point, but I still see it as a valid point and they still accepted my bet knowing full well they will not pay out on it based on such a shitty and stupid rule ....

Once it was demonstrated to them that a single bet (per their own T&C's description) cannot be made up of multiple bets each with their own payout, they then changed the wording of their T&C's and still confiscated my winnings after they accepted my argument and the ambiguity of their T&C's being open to different interpretation.

Am I still bitter after 4 years or so have passed? Hell yes!
 

petro

Dormant account, per user request
PABaccred
PABnoaccred2
Joined
Nov 28, 2010
Location
Narnia
I think T&C should only be created if there is no other practicable solution to the problem.

For example; a T&C with a max bet restriction. Is there another solution? (Video Slots...)
Let's say if the casino can't afford the programming to implement an automatic max bet system.
OK, then they should open their account books to an independent third party and prove they can't afford it. (This is actually how it works in other areas such as wheel chair access. If small businesses cannot afford wheel chair acces, that's fine, but they have to prove it.)

If casinos can prove it, a question arises; if they are allowed that T&C will it cause more problems than it's worth?
I think there is a strong argument to think yes.
 

dusky

Full Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2013
Location
England
I have no real issue with any casino putting as many restrictions onto bonuses as they like, but make them...

A) Readable
B) Logical
C) All on one page of the casino website, not tucked away neatly and across 3 pages

It's good to see them going after stuff like this though, the next thing they want to look at is the likes of those Playtech progressives being held onto by companies depsite the money being funded centrally. That is still disgustingly allowed at some places.
 

Richas

Dormant account
Joined
Jan 17, 2013
Location
UK
Casinomeister - are you going to submit something to the CMA?

It seems to me that you have lots of evidence that is relevant both to the bad things in Ts & Cs - terrible things like reverse withdrawals, non payment of jackpots due to withdrawal limits...all written up already.

You also have evidence that firms face scammers, professional bookies working without a licence, paying no levy or tax and that banned people come back with fake ID even after breaking Ts & Cs or for bonus abuse. Shoot they should hire you for a week or two!
 

vinylweatherman

You type well loads
Joined
Oct 14, 2004
Location
United Kingdom
One point they should look at is that whatever the terms, they take the bet and resolve it, crediting the players' account so that they carry on betting without having been notified of the breach. They should decide whether to deem acceptance of an invalid bet an agreed variation of the terms, and that once accepted and resolved, the bet becomes legally binding even if the policy of the operator is to not accept such bets. This is how things work in other areas. One example is where a store gets it's pricing wrong, and their cashier still accepts the lower payment for the item and the customer leaves the store. Even though it's not the correct price, once the transaction is completed the store cannot recall it by demanding the customer return the item for a refund and repurchase at the correct price.

In a land setting, a contract is formed when both parties accept the bet, and there is no option for either party to legitimately and unilaterally change their mind after the bet as been resolved (except in cases of fraud). Online casinos operate differently, they can reverse a bet days, even weeks later, simply by taking the money back from the players' account.

If this interpretation is accepted, it will force online operators to use software enforcement of any variations of the built in default limits due to specific terms and conditions.
 

slotter999

Dormant account
Joined
Oct 22, 2013
Location
UK
I'm very cynical that this will amount to much.

Personally, I would recommend something very radical which is any bonus offer must come with absolutely no strings. In one simple move the problem would be resolved and the industry would have to innovate and I imagine move towards systems like those at videoslots to build customer loyalty.
 

Richas

Dormant account
Joined
Jan 17, 2013
Location
UK
"very radical" could restrict competition and reduce value for punters.

This seems to be driven by the restriction moaners rather than the Ts & Cs legitimate issues. Fortunately I think the Competition Authority can get that the narrower margins on horseracing and the abuse by scamers trading like bookies and bonus abusing is not the same as punters and terms and conditions abuse with evil things like reverse withdrawals.
 

vinylweatherman

You type well loads
Joined
Oct 14, 2004
Location
United Kingdom
It should ensure that casinos can no longer rely on protecting their "too good to be true" headline offers with complex and hard to understand terms and conditions. The result of a tightening up of what can be used fairly in terms of offer terms may well be that the headline offers will be more representative of their true value, which at face value will make them look much worse. Instead of being able to offer a 200% bonus for the first deposit, but protected with a raft of game exclusions, game specific variations of terms, max bet, min bet, etc; casinos may offer a 50% straight up "slots only" bonus where ALL slot games are equally treated and allowed, and you can bet as much or as little as the software interface allows.

Other things that should be looked at is onerous requirements for withdrawals, such as "post a notarised copy of your passport to the Philippines/Gibraltar, etc", or "if you don't drive, tough, there is no alternative means for you to be verified unless you spend £100 plus the cost of taking a day off and travel to a personal interview in the nearest big city on a passport you don't need, and then wait 6 weeks for it to arrive".

They may also look at whether it is fair to deliberately stall withdrawals via a "pending period" which by design exists solely to pad out what can be an instant process in this age of electronic banking into one taking several days.
 

pinsnpies

Experienced Member
PABaccred
PABnononaccred
Joined
Sep 10, 2008
Location
Bangor North Wales UK
Online gambling firms to be probed by the CMA in the UK...Finally

Good. I had to take a casino to court last year because of some obscure term which meant they denied my winnings. Luckily for me, they were registered in the UK. All this 48 hour pending crap has to stop.

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Online gambling firms may be breaking the law by making it very difficult for players to collect their winnings, the competition regulator has said.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said gambling "shouldn't be a con" and is launching an inquiry into whether customers are treated fairly.
Online gambling has grown dramatically, and 5.5 million Britons now regularly log on to betting sites.
The industry said it would co-operate fully with the CMA's investigation.
'Unfair conditions'
The competition watchdog said many people found it hard to win the money they are expecting.
"Gambling inevitably involves taking a risk, but it shouldn't be a con," said Nisha Arora, the CMA's senior director for consumer enforcement.
"We've heard worrying complaints suggesting people may be lured into signing up for promotions with little chance of winning because of unfair and complex conditions."
Sarah Harrison, the chief executive of the Gambling Commission, which will work alongside the CMA on the inquiry, 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."
The investigation could result in enforcement action against individual gaming sites, or prosecution in the courts.
fruit machine + gambling chipsImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Hard to challenge
Online gambling firms typically advertise welcome bonuses of up to several thousand pounds, or supposedly free bets.
But the small print may disqualify certain games, or require customers to spend large amounts of money before they qualify.
The CMA is also concerned that:
Consumers can find it difficult to withdraw their deposit when they want to stop playing
It is difficult to challenge any decisions made by the betting site
Complaints sometimes have to be made within 7 days
Betting sites can alter the odds without the knowledge of gamers
However, the Remote Gambling Association - which represents the industry - said there was no reason to believe there were widespread failings amongst its members.
It said it would be wrong to pre-judge the outcome of the CMA's inquiry.
I 'won' £35,000
dice and phoneImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Chris Sattin from Gloucester was playing roulette on a website called Maria Casino and won £35,000, but he wasn't allowed to withdraw his winnings.
He told Radio 4's You and Yours: "I was shaking, my adrenaline was pumping. I pressed on the iPhone to withdraw, but nothing was happening. Because I'd never won these sums of money before, I thought maybe it's only happening because it's a large sum of money and I need to contact customer services."
Maria Casino told Chris he had an account with its sister company Unibet, and he had used a self-exclusion feature on the site - something introduced by the Gambling Commission to help problem gamblers.
Chris told the company he had self-excluded only to close his account. But Maria Casino said this breached the company's terms and conditions.
You and Yours contacted Maria Casino about Chris's case and they decided to pay him the £35,000 winnings.
 

jetset

RIP Brian
Joined
Feb 22, 2001
Location
Earth
The CMA is a pretty professional bunch with a lot of clout.

This enquiry they are planning is being very widely reported in the UK media, and I believe this is the mainstream media opportunity many have been waiting for to shine a really bright spotlight on the antics of some of the less integrity driven operators.

I see indications here as well that the UK Gambling Commission is on the case, and will be collaborating with the CMA.

We could see a fairer attitude developing, if only in the UK.

There's an interesting poll being conducted at present by the Mirror here which is indicating that a significant number of gamblers have had unjustified withdrawal problems in the past:

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jetset

RIP Brian
Joined
Feb 22, 2001
Location
Earth
I have no real issue with any casino putting as many restrictions onto bonuses as they like, but make them...

A) Readable
B) Logical
C) All on one page of the casino website, not tucked away neatly and across 3 pages

It's good to see them going after stuff like this though, the next thing they want to look at is the likes of those Playtech progressives being held onto by companies depsite the money being funded centrally. That is still disgustingly allowed at some places.

I second that!

The withholding of full payment on Playtech progressives is absolutely outrageous imo.
 

jetset

RIP Brian
Joined
Feb 22, 2001
Location
Earth
Statement just out from the Remote Gaming Association (trade association representing most of the big UK names in online gambling) saying that it will cooperate fully with the CMA enquiry.
 

nikantw

Banned User
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Location
EU
All this 48 hour pending crap has to stop.

Happy to hear it, but after I read both articles there is no indication about the 48hr pending period changing. It is just an inquiry about bonus terms. I don't see pending time changing because of this. They might change because of the competition offering instant withdrawals. Although competition has very low max bet, so rich people can only play at 48hr pending casinos. :cool:
 

SlotGrinder

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Location
England
One point they should look at is that whatever the terms, they take the bet and resolve it, crediting the players' account so that they carry on betting without having been notified of the breach. They should decide whether to deem acceptance of an invalid bet an agreed variation of the terms, and that once accepted and resolved, the bet becomes legally binding even if the policy of the operator is to not accept such bets. This is how things work in other areas. One example is where a store gets it's pricing wrong, and their cashier still accepts the lower payment for the item and the customer leaves the store. Even though it's not the correct price, once the transaction is completed the store cannot recall it by demanding the customer return the item for a refund and repurchase at the correct price.

In a land setting, a contract is formed when both parties accept the bet, and there is no option for either party to legitimately and unilaterally change their mind after the bet as been resolved (except in cases of fraud). Online casinos operate differently, they can reverse a bet days, even weeks later, simply by taking the money back from the players' account.

If this interpretation is accepted, it will force online operators to use software enforcement of any variations of the built in default limits due to specific terms and conditions.

100% this

Right now the casinos will take your deposit instantly . They barely bother checking ID . Once they have your money they let you do what you want . Why ? Because it's just a number on the screen "Balance : XXX" Only when you try to convert that number into actual funds do they start investigating whether or not they are willing to pay out. By law they now have the problem gambling measures such as reality check and setting loss limits . So , if they can do that why can't they have automatic bet limits / game restrictions . At the very least have a "Bonus Games" tab which contains only games you are allowed to play whilst using bonus funds (stanjames , casinoroom both do this) and then before a game loads have a popup saying "Warning £5 max bet "
 

Simmo!

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
England
If anyone wants to make their opinions known, this page has all the information and a contact email address:

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We would like to hear from you if you have experience of these issues. Please contact us at Gambling [AT] cma .gsi.gov. uk and state clearly in the subject line of your email whether the information relates to sign-up promotions, altered odds or cancelled bets, or terms that restrict the ability to claim.

Personally, I think it's a good opportunity to spell out just how much promotions now trap players.
 
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