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Putting Consumers First

26th May 2017

Responsible Gambling Officer Daniel thinks through why it’s so important that the gambling industry puts their customers first and foremost in everything they do.

The Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, Sarah Harrison, has made it clear that she expects operators to do all they can to put consumers at the heart of their business.

In co-operation with the Gambling Commission, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have launched an investigation into how gambling operators protect their consumers. The release of the report has been delayed due to the upcoming General Election; it is expected that several areas will come under scrutiny such as bonuses, free bets and the cancellation of bets.

A drive from regulators to put the consumer first is not unique to the British gambling industry. The EU produced a report in 2014 setting out how it wanted operators to treat their consumers, focussing on areas such as advertising, bonuses and player protection tools.

Operators are required by the Gambling Commission to provide player protection tools for their customers, such as deposit limits, time-outs and session limits. This is expected as a minimum.

There are operators that enable access to these tools and also offer tools such as loss limits, product specific time-outs and budget calculators. However, the Gambling Commission is clear that it expects operators to ‘up their game’ in consumer protection, and do it quickly.

An area that has come under increasing scrutiny both from the Gambling Commission and from the media is that of bonuses. Operators offer tempting sign-up bonuses to new customers for lucrative odds or matched deposit amounts. At first the offers appear to be akin to free money, until you take a closer look at the terms and conditions (T&Cs) and to withdraw money there are often stringent ‘wagering requirements’. When surveyed, consumers often find these terms to be misleading and difficult to understand.

It recently became evident how seriously the Gambling Commission are taking the issue when an operator was fined £300,000 for running a promotion where the T&Cs were deemed by the Gambling Commission to be "potentially misleading to consumers". The Gambling Commission then asked the operator to fix the problem, however the operator failed to take the appropriate action to remedy the issue and therefore received the fine.

Gambling is a legal form of entertainment in the UK, and ‘put consumers first’ is a key message from not only the Gambling Commission here in Britain but regulators across Europe.

Operators will point to initiatives where they have protected their consumers and demonstrate areas where they have put consumer protection above all else. The Gambling Commission want to see more of this – they want to see consumers put at the heart of everything the operator does. 

 

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