UKGC Orders British Online Gambling Sites to Remove Withdrawal Restrictions

Posted on: September 4, 2018, 03:15h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2018, 03:17h.

People who choose to gamble online should be free to walk away with their money whenever they want to: that’s the key message from UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), following its investigative report into the online gambling industry which was published last week.

Some British online gaming websites deliberately make life hard for customers who want to withdraw their own bankrolls, the CMA report has concluded, a practice that will no longer be tolerated, UK regulators have made clear to internet operators. (Image: Andy Rain/EPA)

The probe was sparked by consumer complaints about restrictions imposed on withdrawals by certain operators.

This week, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission reiterated the findings and warned operators that they will “face action” if they continue to engage in unfair withdrawal practices.

Dubious Practices 

The two-year-long CMA investigation found that some sites state in their terms and conditions that players’ balances will be seized if their accounts lie dormant for a certain period of time. In some cases, funds are confiscated if players fail to provide proof of ID within a certain timeframe.

Some sites were also restricting the amount that could be withdrawn at a time, which the CMA concluded was simply an attempt to keep the customer gambling. Other companies were found to be imposing money laundering controls selectively, in order to delay withdrawals from winning accounts.

All of these practices have been deemed unreasonable by both the CMA and the UKGC.

“The CMA has been working in collaboration with the sector regulator, the Gambling Commission, to improve terms and conditions for players online and to help ensure firms do not break consumer protection law,” the group said in a statement.

Gambling firms should not be placing unreasonable restrictions on when and how consumers can take money out of their accounts,” added UKGC Executive Director Paul Hope in a press release.We now expect all online operators to review the findings published by the CMA today and ensure they update their own practices.”

Named and Shamed

Two firms — Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play — which both operate numerous online casino and bingo sites, were named in the CMA report as operators that had only let customers cash out their balances in incremental stages.

Both companies have now scrapped those withdrawal conditions and are working with the CMA and the UKGC to ensure future policies comply with UK gaming laws, the regulator said.

Britain’s once-liberal online gaming regulations have been squeezed in recent years, as the tide of public opinion has turned increasingly against the gambling industry, largely stirred by political rhetoric.

Fines imposed on online gambling operators by the UKGC for compliance violations rose more than tenfold in the 2017/18 fiscal year, from £1.6 million ($2 million) in the preceding period to £18 million ($23.6 million).

The regulator has warned that penalties will continue to “escalate relentlessly” unless standards improve.