CMA takes enforcement action against unfair withdrawal restrictions

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has written to a number of online gambling operators informing them of enforcement action being taken against ‘unfair obstacles’ to customers being able to withdraw their money from online accounts.

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The CMA has highlighted three aspects of withdrawals that it deems unfair to customers. © How it works.

The CMA hasn’t announced which operators it has specifically written to. However, the regulator has published the areas it is specifically concerned about.

Firstly, the watchdog claims that withdrawal limits, be they daily, weekly, or monthly, appear unreasonably low. Secondly, the time-limit in which customers have to verify their identity on condition of withdrawing funds is also extremely short, which in some cases leads to customers having funds confiscated if they do not reply in time.

Finally, the CMA will take action against dormancy terms that can lead to customers having their funds confiscated or charges being issued after periods of inactivity from an account.

On-going investigation into the industry and its treatment of customers

The enforcement action is part of an on-going investigation into the gambling industry and its treatment of its customers by the CMA.

As such, the CMA is active of late in an attempt to overhaul unfair terms and practices of the industry. Earlier this year, the watchdog introduced changes to the terms and conditions relating to bonuses that operators are allowed to employ, after a six month investigation in 2016.

Three UK-facing operators immediately agreed to the new terms proposed by the CMA at the time, while the changes had to be implemented by 28 February at the latest for all other online operators.

The changes were sweeping and constituted a step forward in regards to the fairness of the types of bonuses of promotions that bookmakers could offer customers.

That enforcement action focused on unfair terms of bonuses at many operators, but it was mentioned that the CMA would be turning its attention to the terms surrounding withdrawals in the near future.

The UK Gambling Commission has supported the action, with programme director Ian Angus saying:

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 enquiry, 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.Ian Angus, programme director at the UK Gambling Commission

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