UK Gambling Industry in the News — Weekly Round-up for August 31, 2018

UK Advertising Standards Authority Investigating World Cup Marketing

Complaints received that betting firms flouted new rules protecting minors and problem gamblers

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has confirmed that it is investigating a significant number of complaints from World Cup punters alleging that betting firms during the soccer spectacular flouted new rules designed to protect minors and potentially problem gamblers.

The watchdog says it received 115 complaints about TV gambling ads during the World Cup in Russia, a major increase on the 27 received in the month immediately preceding the international football championship, and it is concerned that the industry failed ensure that its advertisements did not pose a risk to the vulnerable.

The concerns are that rules may have been broken which ensure that gambling is not trivialised or projects an irresponsible perception of risk, for example by the offer of incentives like free bets or bonuses.

Speaking to the Daily Mail newspaper, an ASA spokesman said this week:

“The gambling advertising rules already place an emphasis on protecting young and vulnerable people from potential harm. Our new guidance introduced earlier this year restricts gambling ads that create an inappropriate sense of urgency, clamps down on ads that encourage repetitive play and provides more detail on vulnerable groups like problem gamblers that marketers need to work to protect.

“We’re currently assessing several ads that appeared during the World Cup to establish if any further action needs to be taken.”

The newspaper reported that a study by experts at the University of Warwick, reported earlier this month, argued that it may be necessary to ban TV gambling commercials that appear to be at odds with ASA rules.

The group surveyed commercials that ran during the World Cup and were particularly concerned about those offering ‘live odds’, where viewers are urged to rush to have a bet. One commercial shown immediately before the start of England’s match against Colombia was for England to score in the first 20 minutes – which meant placing a bet quickly.

The Remote Gambling Association, which speaks for online betting firms, said it supported the ASA’s new guidance on TV adverts.

UK Online Gambling Companies To Change T&Cs Following Investigation

Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play have agreed to remove terms and conditions deleterious to players

Following a collaborative investigation by the UK Gambling Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) two online gambling companies have amended their policies to ensure they do not contravene consumer protection laws.

Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play made the changes in a cooperative manner after “a number of unfair practices and terms and conditions” were alleged.

One of these was a refusal to permit players to withdraw the full amounts of their deposits in a single tranche, which has since been addressed.

Other changes related to policies whereby a player’s deposit could be confiscated if no log-in took place within a specified timeframe, and instances where deposit confiscations were imposed if players did not comply with ID check T&Cs within a specific time.

Announcing the changes effected by the two online gambling firms, George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA, explained: “People choosing to gamble online, should be able to walk away with their own money whenever they want to.

“Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play are the first to commit to scrap their unfair withdrawal rules, but we expect companies across the sector to follow suit, so no-one gets caught out with unfair terms and conditions when gambling online.”

The Gambling Commission has reinforced the CMA position, declaring that it expects all UK licensees to apply similar standards in order to be fair to players and ensure their protection. In this regard the Commission warned again that failure to adhere to regulations and remove unfair T&Cs could lead to further regulatory action taking place.

Paul Hope, executive director at the Gambling Commission, said: “We support the outcome of the CMA’s investigation, and we’re pleased that both of the operators involved have committed to making changes that will make it fairer and simpler for customers to withdraw funds from their online gambling accounts.

“Gambling firms should not be placing unreasonable restrictions on when and how consumers can take money out of their accounts.

“We now expect all online operators to review the findings published by the CMA today and ensure they update their own practices.”