The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has recently updated its guidance for all operators regarding fair and transparent terms and practices.
The Commission has found licensees using terms that are potentially unfair, and in some cases, give them undue discretion to decide if and how they are applied.
- Terms that allow licensees to confiscate customers' un-staked deposits
- Terms regarding treatment of customers' funds where a licensee believes there has been illegal, irregular or fraudulent play
- Promotions for online games that have terms entitling a licensee to void real money winnings if a customer inadvertently breaks staking rules
- Terms that unfairly permit licensees to reduce potential winnings on open bets
The gambling regulator is also aware of the following:
- Terms and conditions that are difficult to understand
- Welcome bonus offers and wagering requirements which may encourage excessive play
What should the licensees do now?
- Review their terms and conditions to make sure they comply with relevant consumer protection laws, the LCCP and take into account the Commission's updated guidance. If asked, it is an LCCP requirement that licensees must be able to provide evidence to show how their terms are fair and transparent.
- Licensees should review their offers, particularly welcome bonus offers or those with wagering requirements. The LCCP requires rewards and bonuses to be constructed in a way that is socially responsible. Although it is common practice to attach terms and conditions to bonus offers, the Commission does not expect conditions, such as wagering requirements, to encourage excessive play.
If a customer has lodged a complaint and is not satisfied with a licensee's response, they can refer it to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider. The Commission expects ADR providers to adjudicate on contractual and transactional disputes between customers and licensees. Their guidance to ADR providers is clear: they need to consider consumer protection legislation when looking at disputes. This includes, for instance, considering whether a contract term is fair.
About the UKGC
Gambling in the UK is regulated by the Gambling Commission, an executive non-departmental public body that acts on behalf of the government's DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) under the Gambling Act 2005.