Time for gambling firms to up their game

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In the UK over 28 million people have an account with an online gambling site. And whilst plucky punters no doubt expect – and enjoy – the element of risk involved in playing roulette, blackjack, poker or slot games online, they certainly don’t want online casinos stacking the odds against them when they try to get their hands on what they’ve won.

Luckily, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has teamed up with the Gambling Commission, to crack down on a widespread problem across the £4.7-billion gambling industry: unfair and misleading terms attached to promotions that leave players unable to easily withdraw winnings from their account.

Much of this problem has to do with ‘wagering requirements’.

In order to entice players to play on their sites, casinos often offer up the likes of bonus cash to bet with, or free spins to play slot games. But as you’ve probably heard, when things seem too good to be true, it’s usually because they are. Wagering requirements are the terms attached to these deceptively-generous promotions, which trap any money that players win; this ensures the casino can keep control of what goes out whilst still seducing players onto the site.

For example, if a player receives a promotional bonus with 50x wagering requirements attached, and they manage to win £100 with that bonus, they must wager that £100 another 50 times before they are permitted to withdraw a penny of it.

In most cases, high wagering requirements like these ensure the player’s winnings never get converted into real, withdrawable money; in other words, lucky players aren’t all that lucky.

And the problem doesn’t end there. An investigation in 2016 by the CMA also found issues with sketchy terms like ‘dormancy fees’, which allow companies to confiscate players’ money after a period of inactivity.

Nevertheless, whilst their efforts to reform the industry are ongoing, the CMA and Gambling Commission have made it clear to all firms that it’s time to buck up their ideas and make their promotions fairer for customers. Stricter regulations mean terms which were once hidden must now be made clear to players as soon as they sign up, so gamblers don’t have any unexpected surprises when they come to withdraw.

The Gambling Commission has issued these changes with harsh words of warning to all online casinos: if they cannot comply with these steps towards greater transparency, ‘they must remove any promotions until they can’.

Many firms have already taken drastic action before even bigger changes are legally enforced; sites like bgo.com and ojo.com have completely scrapped wagering requirements, instead paying-out customers fair and square in real cash. This is great news for players; and what makes it even better, is that it shouldn’t be longer before more companies decide to follow suit, making the online casino world a safer and fairer place to play.


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