Gambling regulator announces crackdown on advertising and consumer law breaches


Gamblers are to be better protected from misleading promotions and will be able to withdraw their money more easily under a regulator crackdown on operators that break advertising rules or breach consumer law.

The Gambling Commission's new rules come into force from October 31 and allow it to impose unlimited fines for any advertising breach such as campaigns that appeal to children or glamorise gambling, extending beyond ads that mislead consumers.

Operators will also face action for advertising failings by third party affiliates such as marketing agencies and for sending spam emails or texts to customers.

It is also imposing an eight-week deadline for operators to resolve complaints with customers.

It follows an open consultation and aim to provide stronger protection for consumers and ensure they are treated fairly by gambling businesses.

The commission said the changes would make it quicker and easier to take action for breaches of consumer law, such as misleading promotions and bonus offers, or unreasonable restrictions on withdrawals of winnings.

Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said: "Protecting the interests of consumers is priority for us and needs to be a priority for gambling operators.

"These changes will protect consumers from irresponsible advertising and misleading promotions, ensure that consumers can withdraw their money more easily and will mean that consumer complaints are dealt with more swiftly."

Brian Chappell, founder of Justice for Punters, said: "It's positive to see that the Gambling Commission has finally recognised that gambling companies require much stricter regulation.

"Time will tell whether these new powers are used appropriately and if gambling consumers are able to obtain their rights quickly following unfair treatment. This announcement doesn't cover all the injustices that occur, but it's very welcome."

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a sector wide investigation in collaboration with the Gambling Commission in 2016 into whether online gambling firms were treating customers fairly.

This led to the CMA launching enforcement action in June 2017 against a number of online gambling operators suspected of breaking consumer law in connection with their gaming promotions.

In February this year it announced that Ladbrokes, William Hill, and PT Entertainment had committed to change how they offered bonus promotions to customers playing online, and in March it said BGO Entertainment Limited had made similar commitments.