CMA’s Gaming Report Cites Progress Play, Jumpman Gaming
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released a report on the UK online gambling industry this week. The CMA report suggested that two companies should make it easier for players to withdraw funds: Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play.
After the CMA prodded the two companies to change their withdrawal policies, both Progress Play and Jumpman Gaming agreed to do so. Refusing the request likely would have led to sanctions by UK regulators.
Forcing players to withdraw money over installments is a tactic of rogue casinos use, because it forces problem gamblers to keep their money in the game account longer. Slow-paying players often is covered in a bad casino’s terms and conditions, which seldom are read by new players when signing up.
The Competition and Markets Authority, a UK regulatory body that is responsible for competition and consumer enforcement, launched an unfair practices investigation into the companies in 2016 and released their 2-year findings in late August.
2016 CMA Investigation
The investigation looked into the online gambling industry as a whole. Their results left online operators with a model of what they consider fair play and fair practices.
Though the CMA looked at all aspects of the £4.9 billion online gaming sector, their focus was directed towards the accessibility to player withdrawals on gaming sites. Because of the pressure the CMA has put on operators to make players funds more accessible to withdrawal, the regulator believes they have lessened the impact of problem gambling in the UK.
Bonus code abuse has become a problem in the global online gambling community. Penalizing players for making withdrawals while using a bonus code has become common throughout the industry over the past several years and affects, online casinos, sports betting sites, and poker rooms.
Online Casinos’ Abusive Terms and Conditions
In its guidance note, the CMA’s results stated that these practices were seen as unfair in accordance to Part 2 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) and under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices 2008 (CPRs) law.
The CMR laid out key questions at the beginning of the investigation report. The CRA stated that all contract terms must be made fair and transparent. The CMA’s questions were asked in hope of determining whether or not terms in online gambling contracts met that requirement of creating “a significant imbalance, contrary to the requirement of good faith, to the detriment of the consumer.”
In accordance with the CPR, the regulator was also looking at possible “unfair commercial practices, in particular misleading acts or omissions” in addition to “behavior contrary to the requirements of professional diligence.”
Sarah Gardner on the CMA’s Recommendations
Executive Director of the UK Gambling Commission, Sarah Gardner stated, “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.
We expect all Gambling Commission licensed businesses to immediately review the promotions and sign up deals they offer customers and take whatever steps they need to take, to the same timescales agreed by the three operators, to ensure they comply.”
Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play Cited
Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play have announced that they will be making changes to remove the terms and conditions that prevent players from withdrawing their money after one go.
Previously, players using Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play sites would, more so than not, be required to withdraw their money in installments over an extended period versus all at once. This method could lead to players gambling again instead of playing and walking away. Which I am sure is part of the reason behind it.
Another change the two companies will make is to their unfair terms policies. Before, if a player had not logged on to their account for a certain amount of time, their funds would be confiscated. No such policy will take place on either site any longer.
Progress Play has also agreed to not confiscate players’ money if certain identity check rules are not met in a set time-frame. Though identity checks do need to be made and companies should require them in order to prevent fraud and money laundering, confiscating funds because they are not done in a timely manner is not appropriate nor is it fair to the player.
CMA and Gambling Commission Join Forces
The CMA has been working with the UK Gambling Commission, who is responsible for regulating online gambling. They hope to improve terms and conditions for players online and protect them from broken consumer protection laws by firms.
With these changes, the Gambling Commission hopes it will encourage other firms to do the same to help ensure safety with online gambling and as well as make it fairer for players. Firms which do not make the required changes may face regulatory action.
George Lusty Praises CMA
George Lusty of the Consumer Protection office at the CMA said, “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.”
Paul Hope Supports New Withdrawal Policies
Paul Hope, the executive director of the UK Gambling Commission, added, “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.”