The Competition and Markets Authority has expanded the scope of its inquiry into the potential breaches of consumer law on the part of the online gambling industry when it comes to bonus offers and free-bet promotions by the online gambling industry to include issues arising from the eligibility conditions of free sports bets.
The original probe was announced in October when the senior director of consumer enforcement at the CMA said that “gambling inevitably involves taking a risk, but it shouldn’t be a con.”
The latest epistle from the CMA said that in light of information gathered since the announcement in October, it was now concerned that players placing sports bets on the understanding that the promotion qualifies them for a free bet are only later being told that they are ineligible.
It added that the body was “particularly concerned” that consumers were being locked into complex and strict requirements linked to gaming promotions that are difficult to understand and may be unachievable; that companies having a wide discretion to cancel bets or alter odds after bets have been accepted, because they made a mistake when the odds were first set; and finally that terms restricting players’ ability to challenge a company’s decision.
At a gambling conference held last week at the offices of Olswang in London, Anna Soilleux-Mills, legal director, said that the scope of the inquiry would likely expand further as it progressed. She commented: “The CMA want to make the most impact with the least effort and they will likeliest be the biggest operators by product..”
The CMA inquiry is part of a joint effort alongside the Gambling Commission to tackle issues around fairness and transparency in the gambling industry.
The CMA said the action would result in either a subsequent enforcement action or guidance being issued by the CMA or the Gambling Commission, to secure improved compliance across the remote gambling sector.