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CMA announces results of online gambling probe

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CMA announces results of online gambling probe
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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the regulatory body responsible for competition and consumer enforcement in the UK, has released the report of the investigation that it started two years ago about the unfair practices in online gambling industry.

The main focus of the probe the options for players to withdraw their funds and CMA pressure has led to two more companies removing obstacles put in place to keep players money in the game, even when they are not interested in continuing to gamble.

Progress Play and Jumpman Gaming, two smaller UK online gambling operators, had set in place elaborate terms and conditions that would keep their players from withdrawing their funds if they had not logged in to their accounts within a certain amount of time or if they were too slow in proving their identity.

Unfair trade practices

In its guidance note, the CMA concluded that such practices were unfair in light of Part 2 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) and under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices 2008 (CPRs) law.

At the beginning of the report explaining the investigation, the CMA outlined the key questions they were seeking answers for. Under the CRA, all contract terms must be fair and transparent, and the CMA was looking to see whether certain terms in online gambling contracts created “a significant imbalance, contrary to the requirement of good faith, to the detriment of the consumer.”

Under the CPRs the regulator was looking at possible “unfair commercial practices, in particular misleading acts or omissions” as well as “behaviour contrary to the requirements of professional diligence.”

Progress Play and Jumpman gaming now join a short list of other online operators including PT Entertainment Services, Ladbrokes and William Hill in adjusting their practices to fall into line with the CMA’s requirements.

Giants like William Hill, Ladbrokes and PT Entertainment had been involved in creating restrictions on players cashing out while using a casino bonus offer. While they were earning or using their bonus gamblers on these sites were prevented from cashing out or required to forfeit the proceeds they had earned off the bonus is they wanted their money. Such practices were deemed unfair trading practices by the CMA.

As a result, all of the firms have now adopted policies that reflect the flowing conditions:

“Promotional Play Restrictions and Wagering Requirements (if applicable) do not apply to any play by a consumer with their Deposit Balance except where ingame mechanisms automatically prevent a consumer from placing a wager that contravenes the Promotional Play Restrictions.”

In a nutshell, this is designed to ensure that a player may cash out even while the bonus is in play and that their request to withdraw funds from their own account will not void the bonus as operators are not prohibited from offering such terms and conditions.

The CMA pointed out that this method of sanctioning players who wish to withdrawal their own funds creates unacceptable and unfair pressure on players to continue to keep gambling even when they have decided they are no longer interested in doing so.

Sarah Gardner, Executive Director of the UK Gambling Commission 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.”

Source: usaonlinecasino.com

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Compliance Updates

Gammix Limited slams “outrageous and unsubstantiated” €19.7m KSA penalty

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The operator vows to fight on all fronts against the Dutch regulator’s ‘unjust’ ruling.

Gammix Limited has announced its intention to contest the “outrageous and unsubstantiated” penalty handed to them by the Netherlands Gaming Authority (KSA).

In response, Gammix stated that the record €19.7m penalty imposed is based on “falsified data, extreme inaccuracy and highly suspect mathematics”.

In the ruling the regulator said that Gammix was adjudged to have allowed online gambling access for Dutch consumers, as well as not requiring age verification upon sign-up – something the company wholeheartedly disputes.

Gammix reports that accounts used to access its sites during the investigation were created in Luxembourg, with deposits made via credit card. Gammix added that such action violates the sites’ terms and conditions, specifically the provision of false information upon sign-up.

The operator asserts that the penalty, totalling €19,679,000, has been calculated using figures from a proprietary web-traffic aggregation service and a multiplier of 240 Euros per click. Gammix believes this would show turnover that doesn’t exist.

Furthermore, Gammix strongly condemns the KSA’s “mystery shopper” style of investigation, which, the operator states, is an unjust basis for this record-breaking penalty.

Phil Pearson, Director of Gammix Limited, has vowed to “fight on all fronts until it receives an apology and retraction!.

He said: “The KSA has imposed upon our company a penalty that is both outrageous and unsubstantiated. Now that we are able to talk openly about the case, we can confirm that we are fighting on all fronts as, to us, this is an extraordinary and unnecessarily heavy-handed action from a regulator that many already regarded as unapproachable.

“When we received the first notice of a possible penalty, we reached out to them to say we have blocks in place. We also asked for any information they had that was material to the investigation, to ensure we remained in compliance with all guidelines  – a request they appeared to ignore. Our lawyers also approached the regulator, in writing, to gain more information, but again no response was forthcoming.

“We had enabled a block on Cloudflare for any Dutch IP, we have no Dutch language or direct Dutch payment methods, and categorically do not target Dutch traffic. If affiliates list any of our brands on Dutch-facing sites, we cannot be held responsible for those promotions. However, once players reached the end site, they would not be able to register an account.”

Pearson concluded: “This fine is an absolute joke, and we will contest this in every possible way, at every possible turn. We will only rest once this outrageous penalty has been rescinded and we have received the apology we deserve.”

 

 

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Compliance Updates

BHA Chief Executive Julie Harrington Statement Following Parliamentary Debate on Affordability Checks

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BHA Chief Executive Julie Harrington has issued the following statement after MPs debated the impact of affordability checks.

“Yesterday’s debate on the impact of affordability checks on British racing has shone a light on a hugely important issue for our sport.

“It was vital that MPs were given proper parliamentary time to thoroughly interrogate the Government’s proposals and we were encouraged by the high turnout for a Westminster Hall debate.

“Many MPs made valuable contributions to the debate, and we are sure that Sports Minister Stuart Andrew will have listened with interest to the views expressed.

“From MPs of all parties and all sides of the debate, there was a clear recognition of the need for the Government to protect and support British racing when reviewing gambling legislation.

“If our sport is to remain a healthy industry, supporting jobs in the rural economy and remaining competitive with our international rivals, we hope that Government will heed this advice.

“We were encouraged by Minister Andrew ruling out the use of job titles and postcodes in the implementation of enhanced spending checks and confirming that these changes will at least be subject to a genuine pilot.

“We will continue to make the case into the heart of Government that the impact of these checks both on our industry and racing bettors needs to be carefully considered and look forward to further discussions on this important issue for British racing with the Gambling Commission and DCMS.”

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Compliance Updates

Ensuring Integrity: The Role of Assurance in the Gambling Industry

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Ensuring Integrity: The Role of Assurance in the Gambling Industry
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By Salvador Garcia-Noblejas, Senior Regulatory Assurance Services at ComplianceOne Group

The gambling industry has its origins in the ancient period, and different types of games are found in almost every culture and civilization.

Over the last few years, we have witnessed an immense transformation, clearly boosted by technological developments. Among these changes, online gambling has grown rapidly, and with this new non-face-to-face reality, regulation and regulators have also embraced new ways to protect players, businesses, and the overall economy. Regulators have the responsibility to set the framework of common rules that define what is right and wrong, the means to protect all parties, and the tools that must be used when anyone does not behave as expected.

Assurance in a world of global risks

It would be inaccurate to assume that regulatory assurance’s only goal is to ensure that operators operate in a fair and transparent manner and meet their legal obligations. On the contrary, assurance also includes helping businesses understand the risks involved in the industry where they operate, analysing their strengths and weaknesses, and setting measures to mitigate those risks.

Assurance’s starting point consists of an interview phase where tailor-made questionnaires serve better understanding the reality to each operator and its actual circumstances. Once the assurance assessment is complete, a detailed action plan assists the operator in fixing any identified gaps, improving policies and procedures, and obtaining the maximum financial gain from refining their processes, products, and operations.

As part of the fast transformation of the gambling industry, with competitive new products, platforms, advertisements, and market expansion, we must not forget that bad actors and illegal practices also develop. This is the moment to ask ourselves if we are ready to face whatever can harm our operations. The most efficient way to know is carrying out a thorough audit of policies, procedures, and processes. This approach will certainly save operators from potential harm to their clients, products, brands, and finances.

Audit readiness

Regulators focus on legislation, supervision, and enforcement. All stakeholders must comply with gambling regulations if they want to offer products and services or provide a safe environment to their clients. An important part of the gambling legal system is the fact that the industry is continuously overseen to ensure that all actors adhere to the established rules. At this point, operators need to ask themselves how ready they are to show sufficient evidence that their operations adhere to the law.

Smart operators will choose to comply with as many rules and regulations as their business is capable of, and they will ensure that records are properly kept. Company leadership is essential in ensuring compliance as it contributes to collaboration between departments and having policies and procedures that make the business run within the parameters of the legislation.

Lessons learned

In recent years, some highly publicized enforcement actions, including fines and penalties, license suspension, and revocation, have alerted the whole gambling industry. From such cases, there have been increasing efforts in reviewing processes, improving systems, and growing compliance departments.

Experience in the gambling industry has taught us that it is crucial to have a detailed understanding of the regulations that govern the relationship between operators and players. Where knowledge has been insufficient, inaccurate, or out of date, some business decisions have led to unwanted consequences, sometimes catastrophic ones.

Knowledge, a solid compliance culture, strong procedures, and willingness are the formula to be ready for a regulatory audit.

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