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UK Casinos Told To Offer Fairer Bonuses by UKGC

Significant changes are on the way for online casinos

The UK Gambling Commission has informed online casinos that the Bonus systems need to be more transparent, especially when it comes to wagering requirements, which is good news indeed for players, particularly new players who may be unaware of the fine print. The terms and conditions, along with wagering requirements and other conditions that may be detrimental to players. Operators who fail to abide by the new rules on transparency could be reprimanded, fined, and face regulatory action.

Taking the cue, and the lead, established casino operators such as Ladbrokes, and William Hill have already committed to such changes, paving the way for clearer and more straightforward bonus offers to entice customers. Other online casinos will have to follow suit or face regulatory action. The new regulations coming into force will ensure players will always have access to their deposited funds, at all times.

The new rules are revolutionary, as wagering requirements will have to be eliminated, and players will not be forced to play multiple times before cashing out! The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is working closely with the UK Gambling Commission to iron out any differences and pave the way for a more transparent, and fairer bonus system for players. Besides, bonus terms will have to be more precise and more straightforward, with any restrictions explained upfront. Furthermore, players who happen to win big, with a progressive jackpot say, will have the right to privacy, and not used in any publicity for the online casino. The new collaboration between the UKGC and CMA will ensure a better and more level playing field for players wagering at online casinos in the UK. Representatives from both associations have publicly commented about the news. The main gist of their speeches is that the whole bonus system has to be clearer and not linked to additionally wagering requirements, which admittedly, not all new players comprehend entirely, despite the terms and conditions mentoring these facts. Let’s face it, and not everyone bothers to read the terms and conditions, especially since they are lengthy documents in formal and complicated language.

Bonuses and deposited funds are to be treated differently and not connected to each other. One direction that online casinos could take is to offer more CashBack offers. So if players deposit, say, £200, and there is a 100% Bonus,  then the original £200 should not be linked together. The £200 should be withdrawn at players’ discretion. Then, the bonus £200 can have certainly reasonable and explained rules attached. This way players’ bonuses can be cashed at once, leaving the initial deposit to qualify for additional benefits, unattached to the bonus.

Another direction online casinos can take is the Free Spins Bonus route. These could be gifted without wagering requirements, and online casinos will have to update their systems. Players get 50 fair and real free spins. Any winnings derived from them are for players to keep. In effect, players’ actual real money deposits will be protected from such terms, and available to withdraw at any time.

What happened to spark off this investigation by the CMA? It was in 2016 that the CMA received several complaints from players regarding unclear and unfair bonuses. Subsequently, the CMA decided that several online casino operators had the ‘dice loaded in their favour’, to use their own words. It was agreed that when it comes to offers and bonuses, operators would need to be much clearer, and things would need to change. A clear distinction will have to be made between deposited funds, and bonus winnings or offers, and are to be dealt with differently on players accounts. Any terms and conditions would have to be clear at the outset, so players are informed clearly and on time. Players will be able to withdraw their money at any time.

The UK Gambling Commission will expect all UK license holders to follow suit; this means that UK players stand to gain from a more transparent system. William Hill bookmakers issued a response, “As one of the largest online betting and gaming brands in the UK. William Hill has worked with the CMA to ensure that its concerns have been fully met; “We welcome the standards and principles that the CMA has outlined, and we look forward to their adoption across the industry.” Ladbrokes issued a similar statement, as did several other larger operators in the UK.

In 2017, a new breed of online casino appeared on the scene; ‘the wager-less’ casino. Such casinos have done away with wagering requirements entirely. It’s about time that this long-festering situation has been resolved for UK players. Whether other jurisdictions will follow suit is anyone’s guess, but if they do, they will gain faith and respect from players, and online casino operators alike. This joint project, being run by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is set to bear positive results, and protect players from unscrupulous operators. By the end of 2018, all UK operators will have to clarify their terms and conditions and come into line with the new regulations.

With fairer bonuses on the way, UK players will have an advantage over players in other jurisdictions. However, it can be reasonably presumed that the better online casinos in any jurisdiction, will have to follow their UK counterparts if they want to remain competitive and keep their market share. Whatever the outcome of these changes, they are probably of importance to players, as the time has come to a stop confusing players with ridiculous wagering requirements, and other terms or conditions. They will have to start being transparent upfront. That way players can compare like with like, and choose the best online casinos with the best and fairest bonuses.

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