In the United Kingdom, the Gambling Commission regulator has published a public notice advising online operators to learn from a 2016 case and ensure that any bonus promotions for customers are entirely fair and transparent.
The regulator stated that operators should take note of “failures” committed by TGP Europe Limited and Fesuge Limited via their sportsbetting websites at Fun88.co.uk, TLCBet.co.uk, 12Bet.com and 138.com. It declared that the United Kingdom and Isle Of Man-licensed domains had offered bonuses connected with the annual Cheltenham Festival in March but that approximately 800 customers had complained when their accounts were subsequently suspended due to alleged contraventions of the operators’ specific terms and conditions.
“The brands offered bonuses for new sign-ups and for existing customers,” read a statement from the Gambling Commission. “None of the brands allowed customers to have multiple accounts.”
The Gambling Commission found that TGP Europe Limited and Fesuge Limited had suspended over 5,000 accounts after assessing that a large number of bets had been placed in contravention of clause 15.2 of their terms, which stated that they could take such actions if “we suspect that you or any other player is abusing or attempting to abuse a bonus or other promotion or is likely to benefit through such abuse”.
“Licensees must satisfy themselves that none of the terms on which gambling is offered are unfair terms within the meaning of the Consumer Rights Act of 2015,” read the statement from the Gambling Commission. “The Gambling Commission concluded that TGP Europe Limited and Fesuge Limited failed to satisfy itself as to the fairness of clause 15.2 of its terms, which gave TGP Europe Limited and Fesuge Limited a unilateral right to end the contract with its customers on grounds which were not clearly spelt out. There was also no definition of bonus abuse within the terms.”
In accepting they were at fault, TGP Europe Limited and Fesuge Limited reportedly voluntarily agreed to pay approximately $8,652 to cover the costs of the investigation and make changes to their terms, conditions and business structures under the supervision of newly-employed operations managers while improving anti-fraud and staff training procedures.
The Gambling Commission revealed that it had worked closely with the Isle Of Man Gambling Supervision Commission and the Competition And Markets Authority in resolving the case while the Independent Betting Adjudication Service had also played a part in the process. Going forward, it stated that operators should ensure that such special bonus offers are fair under the terms of the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 and comply with current laws before providing an accurate summary “in plain and intelligible language” of any “contractual terms on which gambling is offered”. It also declared that providers should “clearly set out” and make “readily accessible” the circumstances and conditions under which promotions are available while additionally presenting a “clear and transparent” explanation of their position on bonus abuse and how any penalties will be applied.
“We consider that this case provides valuable learning for remote and non-remote operators,” read the notice from the Gambling Commission. “Operators offering bonus promotions in the normal course of business and at major events must ensure that their terms and conditions comply with the requirements of the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 and the [license conditions and codes of practice]. They should take a proactive approach in assessing their policies and procedures to ensure compliance.”