Three of the UK’s largest gambling operators are altering how customers depositing through online promotions can withdraw winnings.
Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill, and PT Entertainment (the operator of Titanbet iGaming) have now agreed to allow players to withdraw their winnings at any time. Customers no longer have to fulfill the different terms and conditions that sign-up promotions carry.
The decision comes after an October 2016 investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which found the terms and conditions for popular sign-up promotions were often confusing and misleading to online gambling customers.
The changes will now be rolled out industrywide through all UK-facing operators.
What do these changes mean for UK customers?
All operators must now be more upfront and clear in the terms and conditions of their bonus promotions, according to the statement released by the CMA. In particular, the changes mean:
- Players won’t be required to play multiple times before they can withdraw their own money.
- Gambling firms must ensure any restrictions on gameplay are made clear to players and cannot rely on vague terms to confiscate players’ money.
- Gambling firms must not oblige players to take part in publicity.
The CMA’s probe discovered most promotions in which customers receive bonus funds when they deposit their own money are highly likely to be “unfair.” Moreover, they could stand in breach of consumer protection law.
It’s not just sign-up promotion withdrawals that are under the microscope either. The CMA is looking at other obstacles faced by customers trying to withdraw their money, regardless whether they deposited through a promotion. These include forcing players to withdraw prizes in small installments rather than a lump sum, as well as the confiscation of funds with which customers haven’t played for a certain period of time.
The CMA said most of the operators’ promotion practices must adjust by Feb. 28. Additional changes must be implemented by July 31.
Why were UK gambling operators investigated?
Promotions that force customers to play for longer than they intended before being able to withdraw instigated a concern for the CMA.
Project director George Lusty said:
“Gambling always carries a risk, but players should never face unfair restrictions that prevent them from getting at their money. Firms mustn’t stack the odds against players, by putting unfair obstacles in their way, or making it difficult for them to stop gambling when they want to.
“The CMA is here to make sure businesses’ terms and practices are fair for their customers. We welcome the commitment from these leading firms to address the problems our investigation uncovered, by making important changes to their terms and conditions.”
Gambling Commission Executive Director Sarah Gardner added:
“We back the action taken by the CMA today. Gambling firms must treat their customers fairly and not attach unreasonable terms and conditions to their promotions and offers.”