Gambling Commission Fines Operator Abusing Checks: Is Change Likely?

This week the gambling commission fined TonyBet Over £400,000 for a mixture of failings, but the announcement was more significant than usual.

The gambling commission specifically said that the company’s terms and conditions were unfair, referring to the withholding of customer withdrawals.

No doubt many readers of this blog are interested in what happens next (as am I). The abuse of affordability and source of wealth checks have been used against winning customers on a routine basis over the last few years. It’s something we’ve all been complaining about repeatedly, sky sports racing even held a debate show about it (bookies and GC refused to appear).

But so many questions are unanswered…

The gambling commission has said:

The full twitter chain is here.

What About Other Companies?

Despite being 2-3 years overdue, it’s a positive sign to see the commission acknowledge the problem. I guess it’s more than they did when they were warned about the imminent collapse of Football Index 6 months before it happened.

As a side note, this also raises another question. The GC licensed Football Index, so presumably, they thought their terms were fair?

There have been so many other companies using affordability, money laundering, and source or wealth checks to ban successful gamblers and withhold winnings. For example, take a look at this email from Unibet recently…

What about companies like Unibet, Skybet, and William Hill?

We’ve had plenty of contact from followers about all three of those companies (and others) regarding document requests only happening at withdrawal. Last year, one follower faced 16 weeks of these checks requesting bank statements for a £10 deposit with one of them. It was around the same time the same brand got fined £3,000,000 for failing to do checks on addicts that had deposited over 6 figures.

Where’s the consistency? Why is TonyBet the only one being peanalised here?

Unfair Rulings – Dispute Resolution Services…

But it gets worse when you consider eCOGRA and IBAS have routinely sided with betting companies unfair terms. These “independent dispute resolution” services have been supporting the misuse of these checks that are supposedly there to protect the vulnerable.

What do you think, are these terms fair?

How can IBAS be put forward as the new gambling industry ombudsman when they’re endorsing the use of financial checks only after a consumer has won some money?

What will happen to all the consumers that have not been paid with said terms as the justification in the past?

It might be easier if anybody knew specifically…

What is Unfair? What Are The Rules?

It’s as clear as mud. The gambling commission has said that they found TonyBet’s terms to be unfair, saying that the operator may request documents for ‘all withdrawals’ and that winnings could be confiscated where consumers failed to provide documentation within 30 days.

You just saw that email from Unibet right?

The gambling commission needs to be transparent, fair and open themselves. Maybe we need a regulator for the regulator?

On the other hand, I’ve seen bookies complaining about unclear rules in the past and, it’s one of the very few times I feel sorry for them. How can you ensure the rules are adhered to when the regulator won’t tell anyone what the rules actually are? Where is the line? What is fair and what is not?

Immediate responses often point out that they can’t clearly state the rules and boundaries at which checks start because the system would be exploited. Presumably, those who respond like this think that the current subjective interpretations of the rules are better (or maybe they work for the companies doing it).

My point is this – if rules and laws aren’t clear and based upon factual data, how can we trust the rules?

The entire argument descends into a pit of opinionated chaos. Plus, what’s the issue here? If checks have to take place at say £3,000 the system could be somewhat exploited, but hardened criminals are stopped from doing anything serious, addicts can only do limited damage and all this 16 weeks of checking on a £10 deposit nonsense stops.

Simply posing for photos with anti-gambling groups, refusing to appear on sky sports racing when requested and handing out fines without any clarity isn’t good enough.

The Gravy Train: Will It Ever Stop?

It appears there’s a consistent theme here, aside from betting companies taking the utter piss with regulatory checks.

Unsurprisingly, it’s money. Will it change? Who knows, although it doesn’t look likely given the current setup.

It goes like this:

  • Gambling companies abuse the system for financial gain
  • GC fines operators and funds anti-gambling lobby groups
  • Anti-gambling groups team up with the ‘responsible gambling’ departments of companies
  • Companies and the groups mutually agree they need customer’s financial data
  • The cycle then repeats

The end result is; the commission looks like they are doing something whilst getting paid, the anti-gambling groups get paid, the operators get paid, and the consumer pays for it.

It’s one big incestuous loop of back-slapping and self-funding where absolutely fuck all gets regulated.

Related: The Dark Side of Gambling Regulation

2 thoughts on “Gambling Commission Fines Operator Abusing Checks: Is Change Likely?

  1. It’s absolutely pathetic what is going on. Fining firms that nobody has ever heard of for breaking ambiguous rules which nobody can understand.

    Then handing over the money to the anti gambling groups so they can carry on the circus spreading their bullshit.

    Gamble with lives on bbc saying lives are still being lost, and until they get their statutory levy, more lives will be lost. GWL have over 2 million spare cash sat in their bank. Most of their expenses is wages and salary. How much more funding do they need before “lives will stop being lost?”. Another 5 million? 10? 20? How much more surplus cash do they need?

    Also funny how they continue to deny and belittle the risk of the black market. It’s not just punters moving there, all the operators are moving there too, can’t get fined for not following the imaginary rules then. No unregulated operators are going to donate funds to the big step just so they can wheel Peter Shilton out and buy some more yellow t shirts and caps and march round telling everybody what to do.

    The anti gambling campaigners also don’t realise they are doing everything the big bookmakers want them to. They are doing the equivalent of helping Amazon shut down the high street bookshop. The only winners in all this are the big bookmakers who get all the data and their competition eliminated, and the gambling charities who get their funds for their silly campaigning.

    Ordinary punters/consumers are getting punished. Not one punter/customer wants affordability checks, nobody wants to send in private sensitive data to companies who can’t even keep your email address safe.

    It’s all a complete circus, and the only losers are the genuine punters and consumers.

    1. Sounds about right. Only thing I disagree with – the gambling campaigners almost certainly realise they are doing what the big bookmakers want them too. They just don’t care, because it gets them paid as you say.

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