Casino Ads Promising Cash Don't Pass U.K. Regulator's Test

Updated on
  • CMA says online advertisments are misleading to consumers
  • Customers may have to make hundreds of bets to get bonuses

Ads that promise cash and free bets to online gamblers are long shots that rarely pay off according to a U.K. regulator that said it would crack down on operators that break consumer laws.

The ads, that frequently promise 10 pounds when a customer bets a similar amount, often force gamblers to play hundreds of times before they can withdraw the bonus, the Competition and Markets Authority said in a statement Friday following an eight-month probe. The regulator didn’t identify any specific companies that may be targeted by enforcement actions.

“We know online gambling is always going to be risky, but firms must also play fair,” said Nisha Arora, a senior official at the London-based CMA’s consumer enforcement unit. “New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them.”

The CMA’s 4.5 billion-pound ($5.7 billion) online gaming industry is under increasing scrutiny from U.K. regulators seeking to make sure operators aren’t taking advantage of consumers. 888 Holdings Plc faces an unrelated probe from the U.K. Gambling Commission over its compliance with rules to prevent problem gambling.

The Remote Gambling Association, whose members include most of the world’s main online gambling companies, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The CMA said it is reviewing whether any individual promotions break the law and take companies to court if they don’t address regulatory concerns. In a separate statement, the regulator said it had reached an agreement with the Gambling Commission on how to coordinate probes into the industry.

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