The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has updated its guidance for all operators on fair and transparent terms and practices.
The Commission has recently found licensees using terms that are potentially unfair and, in some cases, give them undue discretion to decide if and how they are applied. Examples include:
- 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 Commission said it had also seen terms and conditions that are difficult to understand and welcome bonus offers and wagering requirements which may encourage excessive play.
According to the Commission, in light of this, licensees should:
- 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. It is an LCCP requirement that licensees must be able to provide evidence to show how their terms are fair and transparent.
- 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.
The regulator noted that if a consumer is not satisfied with a licensee’s response to a complaint, they can refer it to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider. The Commission expects ADR providers to adjudicate on contractual and transactional disputes between consumers and licensees. The UKGC’s guidance to ADR providers says they must consider consumer protection legislation when looking at disputes. This includes, for example, considering whether a contract term is fair.