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 UK competition watchdog launches probe of online gambling T&C’s

UK competition watchdog launches probe of online gambling T&C’s
Published: 2016-11-16

The UK’s competition watchdog has launched a probe into whether online gambling sites are breaking the law via misleading promotions.

On Friday, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announcing an investigation of “potential breaches of consumer law, including misleading promotions and unfair terms, being used by firms to block players’ payouts.” The CMA said it was prompted to act after the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) raised similar concerns.

Nisha Arora, the CMA’s senior director for consumer enforcement, said the CMA was “worried players are losing out because gambling sites are making it too difficult for them to understand the terms on which they’re playing, and may not be giving them a fair deal.” Arora said the CMA would work closely with the UKGC during its investigation.

The UKGC’s CEO Sarah Harrison said she had concerns that betting operators’ terms and conditions “appear to bamboozle rather than help the customer make informed choices.” Harrison said too many of the UK’s estimated 5.5m online gamblers felt like “the deck is stacked against them because of an obscure condition that they did not properly understand.”

The probe will focus on whether online gambling promotions are too difficult to understand or may in fact be unachievable. The CMA will also look at whether bookies attempt to prevent players from withdrawing stakes and any winnings.

The CMA said it recognizes betting operators’ right to close any punter’s account, cancel bets or amend odds after bets are accepted due to the odds having been inaccurately set. But the CMA will examine the fairness of the terms the bookies rely on to make these changes.

The CMA says it will require evidence from online gambling firms and is also soliciting UK punters to relay first-hand accounts of perceived shady behavior by bookies.

In response to Friday’s news, Remote Gambling Association CEO Clive Hawkswood said it was the CMA’s job to point out operators’ shortcomings but insisted there was “no reason to believe that there are widespread failings” in the industry and “it would be wrong to pre-judge the outcome of an inquiry that has only just begun.”

The CMA probe is the latest barbarian at the gate of the UK gambling industry. Earlier this month, reports surfaced that the government was planning to implement a total ban on daytime gambling TV advertising. In September, rumors spread that the government was planning a review of the fixed-odds betting terminals in betting shops. Just this week, online bookies learned they would have to pay 10% of race betting revenue to racing stakeholders.

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Finland does not want money to continue escaping and relaxes with veilkauss oy. 

UK competition watchdog launches probe of online gambling T&C’s

Finland will begin a consultation period to open up the country to private gambling operators, the country’s Ministry of the Interior has announced.


At present, the government-owned Veikkaus Oy has a monopoly on all gambling activity within the country. However, if current plans proceed, that could soon change, with private companies able to apply for licenses to run a variety of gambling operations in the country, including online casino games.

The law change has been prompted by a recent surge in illegal gambling activity through offshore sites which are easily accessible to most Finns. The government hopes that by increasing the amount of legal routes available to gambling, players will be protected from illegal operators. A report in 2023 suggested that Finns spend €500m ($541.7m) a year gambling on foreign-owned sites.


Finland’s government aspire to the creation of a regulated gambling market by 2026.

Marketing restrictions for new licensees



The regulations associated with the new licenses given will require players to provide proof of identification and address, which is already required with the state operator. There are also additional restrictions stipulated, such as a ban on bonuses – something which is already in place in neighboring Sweden. A self-exclusion program will also be a condition of the licensing, as well as signing up to a centralized register of banned accounts, requiring license-holders to co-operate on customer limits.


Heavy restrictions on advertising and marketing are also expected to be a major feature of the plans. While no outright ban on gambling advertising has been proposed, one notable restriction is to prevent influencers from advertising gambling services on their social media channels.


Changes for state-owned operator

There are also changes planned for the future of Veikkaus Oy, with the state given greater control over its future ownership in a restructuring effort. However, at the same time, the bill allows for the state to give up some of its share in the operator at a future date.


Veikkaus Oy will also be banned from advertising any physical gambling



Despite the plans for liberalization of the country’s gambling laws, there will still be some space where Veikkaus Oy will retain an effective monopoly, on both lotteries and physical gambling games such as slot machines and scratchcards. Veikkaus Oy will also be banned from advertising any physical gambling.


The bill will also fundamentally change the nature of regulatory oversight in the country. Currently, the National Police Board is responsible for controlling gambling activity, but the bill proposes a supervisory agency to be run by the Ministry of Finance for managing the regulations. The new board would issue fines and penalties, award and rescind licenses, and decide which specific games are permitted, among other duties.



The consultation is intended to run until August 18, 2024. If all goes to plan, the Ministry of the Interior has advised that the bill is expected to be submitted to parliament early in 2025. Licenses would be open for applications from 2026, with the full market opening up in 2027 for licensed operators, when Veikkaus Oy’s monopoly is set to come to an end.


European Lotteries Annual Report highlights a year that stands as further evidence of the significant impact. 

UK competition watchdog launches probe of online gambling T&C’s

The latest European Lotteries Annual Report highlights a year that stands as further evidence of the significant impact that lotteries are making as responsible, forward-thinking and innovative entities.

In 2023, the election of a new President and Executive Committee brought with it a new strategy and advancements in the field of responsible gaming, sustainability and innovation, all reflecting EL’s members commitments to create a positive social impact for the benefit of society.



UNVEILING EL’S NEW STRATEGY - With the new Executive Committee came a refreshed EL Strategic Outline for the period 2023-2025. The strategy focuses on three key areas, essential for achievement the strategic goals: positive social impact, effective communications and responsible innovation facilitation. In 2023 EL started to showcase the first evidence on how its members are increasingly shaping the European games of chance landscape towards responsibility, sustainability and inclusion.


Simultaneously in 2023, EL and its members remained a community of accomplished market players, as evidenced by the achievements and success stories in 2023. Over 2023, EL’s members contributed 22,2 billion euros back to society.


FORWARD THINKING - With its new strategy and continued dedication to responsible gaming, sustainability, and innovation, EL is well-positioned to lead the lottery sector towards a responsible and sustainable future. The Association continued to grow in 2023, as a vibrant community with its own unique culture and a profound mission: for the benefit of society.



The work continues into 2024 to further show the importance of the sustainable lottery model. EL will continue to work on the visibility of its members’ positive impact as well as to protect the players with the highest standards towards responsible gaming. EL will as well continue to fight illegal gambling activities.

Interpol fully enters to investigate sports bets, France met 

UK competition watchdog launches probe of online gambling T&C’s

INTERPOL hosted the third annual meeting of the Magistrates/Prosecutors Responsible for Sports Network (MARS Network) at its General Secretariat in Lyon, France, this meeting, organized under the authority of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) of the Council of Europe, aimed to strengthen international cooperation and the exchange of information in the field of sports justice.



Money laundering, gambling, ownership of multiple clubs and sports agents were some of the topics as these are channels through which money launderers operate to make their crimes more difficult to detect and prosecute., representing some of the most relevant threats to sporting integrity today.



MARS Network members shared best practices and discussed various topics, including how to strengthen cooperation opportunities inside and outside the network. Three specific sessions allowed members to discuss manipulation of sports competitions, doping and “safety, protection and service” at sporting events.


The Database on Suspected Cases of Corruption in Sport (DACCS), managed by EPAS in collaboration with the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), and the HELP course on human rights in sport were also presented.

Estonia on high alert, unbridled bets among young people. 

UK competition watchdog launches probe of online gambling T&C’s

In Estonia, purchasing lottery tickets, placing sports bets, or playing casino games is permitted from the age of 21. Nevertheless, according to a study commissioned by the Gambling Addiction Counseling Center and conducted by Kantar Emor, 59 percent of respondents aged 15-20 have had contact with gambling. Furthermore, 47 percent of 15-19-year-olds who had gambled in the past two years were also in the at-risk group, indicating that gambling had caused them some problems or that they were pathological gamblers.

According to Silver Sternfeldt, the CEO of the Gambling Addiction Counseling Center (HNK), over one hundred thousand people are in the “at-risk” group, Estonia ranks first among European countries with gambling problems. Sternfeldt attributes this to societal attitudes toward gambling.


As a society, we have not yet reached a point where we know how to gamble responsibly or demand responsible gambling operations.


Silver SternfeldtCEO of the Gambling Addiction Counseling Center (HNK)


The Ineffectiveness of Bans

Gambling providers are thriving, interest in gambling is high, and new online casinos are constantly entering the market. For example, last year, the difference between the stakes-placed and the winnings paid out in online gambling alone was €350 million. The state collected €48 million in gambling taxes over the year.


No operator is interested in having a gambling addict. This option exists and is used very actively; all operators impose internal restrictions within their organizations to prevent compulsive gamblers from playing.


William Hill will become the title sponsor of all four SPFL divisions on Scottish Footbal league. 

UK competition watchdog launches probe of online gambling T&C’s

The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has announced a landmark title sponsorship deal with William Hill, one of the UK's leading betting companies.



Under the record five-year deal, which begins at the start of the 2024/25 season, William Hill will become the title sponsor of all four SPFL divisions, as well as the Official Betting Partner of the SPFL.


This will see the SPFL's four divisions become the William Hill Premiership, William Hill Championship, William Hill League 1 and William Hill League 2.



Alongside their partnership and title sponsorship, William Hill and the SPFL have partnered with EPIC Global Solutions, a global consultancy focused on gambling harm prevention, to launch a pioneering gambling harm awareness program across football Scottish for SPFL players, staff and supporters.


Over the coming months, EPIC will be holding interactive and impactful workshops across all 42 SPFL clubs to educate players and support staff about the dangers of play damage in the elite sporting environment. This will ensure that all participants have a greater understanding of the impact of gambling-related harm and where to access support.



The search for a new title sponsor for the SPFL was led by Brendan Napier of Scottish Football Marketing, a joint venture between the SPFL, the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Women's Premier League, established to act as a central resource for inventory Scottish football marketing.


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