Online gambling companies under fire for imposing limits on withdrawing funds
The competition authorities have launched another wave of enforcement action against online gambling firms, this time over customers facing hurdles withdrawing their money.
The Competition and Markets Authority said on Thursday it had launched the action against a number of online gambling firms over the practices.
Issues the CMA said were of "particular concern" included daily, weekly or monthly limits on withdrawing funds that appear unreasonably low, and potentially arbitrary short deadlines on the time customers have to verify their identity as a condition of withdrawing funds.
The CMA also highlighted dormancy terms that allow firms to confiscate funds or impose apparently excessive charges after a certain period of inactivity.
The regulator said last month it would be examining this area after taking action against Ladbrokes, William Hill and PT Entertainment, a subsidiary of Playtech that runs Titanbet and Winner, over the way it offered bonus promotions.
Remote Gambling Association chief executive Clive Hawkswood said: "The CMA had flagged that this would happen. Issues around delayed withdrawals or the terms attached to the withdrawal process have for a long time been one of the most common areas of consumer complaints.
"The correct and proper application of anti-fraud and anti-money laundering controls is frequently what lies behind delays and we are collectively seeking ways to better explain that to customers.
"However, the CMA has identified a number of cases that are not justified on these grounds. Where they have deemed that customers have not been dealt with fairly then it must be right for them to take action. Where common themes or failings emerge then we will make every effort to disseminate those across the sector so that the same mistakes are not repeated."
The Gambling Commission welcomed the CMA's action. Programme director Ian Angus said: "We support the CMA’s investigation – gambling firms should not be placing unreasonable restrictions on when and how consumers can withdraw money from their online gambling accounts.
"While the CMA continues its inquiry we expect all online operators to look closely at the terms and practices they have in place and consider if they are fair on their customers."
It also emerged on Thursday that the Horseracing Bettors Forum had contacted the CMA over concerns about starting prices raised by claims of collusion between course bookmakers to raise overrounds.
The claims followed an HBF report into overrounds which concluded punters betting at Ffos Las last year were being short-changed. Course bookmakers have angrily denied such collusion occurs.