UK online gambling market battling for more fair play

WITH the advancement of technology and the power of the internet being available to all at the click of a button as well as on the go via mobile devices, online markets have boomed. One industry that continues to grow and develop as the internet advances is the online gambling market.

It’s a huge sector and has seen a 150 percent growth over the last six years; the remote industry is now worth a whopping £4.5 billion annually in the United Kingdom, while the remote sector accounts for around 32 percent of the market share of the total gross gambling yield of the UK industry as a whole – which totalled £13.8 billion in 2016.

Recently, the Competition and Markets Authority developed their investigation in the field into an enforcement action. The primary area of concern is online casinos and the various offers they employ to attract new customers.

Online casinos ever-increasing in popularity

Between 2008 and 2014, the percentage of the United Kingdom’s adult population playing at online casinos rose by six percent, with the industry’s yield being clearly and heavily in one sector of the casino. While traditional casinos are highlighted by their table and card games, such as blackjack, craps, and roulette, the slot machines always had their place, and now they’ve taken over the online casino scene.

Citing the potentially complicated rules associated with card games for new players and the rise in popularity of simple, casual games such as Candy Crush Saga, the easy nature of slots has allowed them to become even more popular with online gamblers. According to a report on the impact of online casinos in the UK, slot games account for 75.19 percent (£534.34 million) of the gross gambling yield.

Issues with fair play

As stated, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has brought up an enforcement action following an investigation into online gambling companies, citing a lack of fair play when it comes to the enticing new customer offers. CMA Senior Director for Customer Enforcement Nisha Arora stated: “New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them.”

Customers have complained that some of these introductory offers are accompanied by difficult to decipher terms and conditions that force them to continue playing longer than they thought after their initial deposit. For example, sometimes they have had to play and win many times over before being able to withdraw, or the site has had a withdrawal minimum which is so much bigger than the initial deposit, meaning that they don’t have a choice to quit.

The CMA can now demand that changes be made to a gambling firm’s operations should they deem them unfair. They would do so by suing the company, as only a court can hold them under violation of the Consumer Rights Act. On top of this, the CMA also has the power to revoke licences and fine operators.

The online gambling industry is in full swing and being enjoyed by many. It seems that the UK’s CMA cracking down on any unfair marketing approach will lead to a better online gambling experience for all. 

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