Watchdog clamps down on online gambling

The competition regulator is to take action against some online gambling companies which it suspects of breaking consumer law.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said some punters did not get the deal they expected from sign-up promotions offering cash bonuses to attract them to gaming websites.

The CMA also said the firms were “unfairly holding onto people’s money”.

Online gambling companies should “play fair”, said the CMA.

Nisha Arora, CMA senior director for consumer enforcement said: “New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them.

“And players can find a whole host of hurdles in their way when they want to withdraw their money.”

Online gambling: What’s the catch?

The CMA launched its investigation into the gambling sector in October 2016. It has since heard from about 800 “unhappy” customers and has “demanded companies answer questions about how they operate, and closely examined the play on a range of websites”.

As a result it has identified “a number of operators engaging in practices likely to be breaking consumer law”, which is why it is taking enforcement action.

 

How punters get trapped

The controversial promotions involve terms and conditions which prevent punters from walking away from play with their winnings at a point of their choosing.

For example, someone might bet £10 of their own money which is then matched by £10 from the online betting company.

However, in the terms and conditions of play it might state that the customer has to play several hundred times within a certain period of time before they can cash in their winnings.

In some instances, under these “wagering requirements” people have amassed winnings of several thousand pounds but they have had to keep on betting, said the CMA, meaning that their chances of losing money increase.

“They don’t have the choice to quit while they’re ahead and walk away with their winnings when they want to,” the CMA said.

 

Court threat

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), whose members include many online gambling firms, said it would take “some time to digest and consider properly” the CMA announcement.

“However, where failings are identified companies individually will rectify them,” it added.

“If there are generic lessons to be learned then, as ever, we will work with the Gambling Commission to bring those to the attention of the wider industry with a view to raising standards across the board.”

Initially the CMA is talking to the companies involved, which it says it cannot name, demanding that they change their practices.

If they do not meet the requirements, the CMA can take them to court. The court could fine the companies or ultimately revoke their licences.

The Gambling Commission has been working alongside the CMA on the investigation.

It said identity checks were an “important duty” for the gambling industry to “prevent money laundering and to ensure responsible gambling”.

But, it added, concerns had been raised that some operators might be “applying these requirements in a restrictive way, preventing consumers from legitimately withdrawing funds from their gambling accounts”.

 

Further probe

The online gambling sector has grown by about 150% since 2009 and is worth £4.5bn. The CMA said more than 6.5 million people regularly use the sites.

The CMA’s George Lusty led the investigation. “If you’re required to place hundreds of thousands of bets before you can make a withdrawal, then that is going to require you to invest a lot of time into these promotions,” he told the BBC.

“Our main interest is these casino-type products, but we do also have some concerns in relation to free sports bets promotions as well.”

The CMA is also asking for other people who have had trouble withdrawing their money to come forward by 31 August to help it “probe this issue even further”.

 

One punter’s story

Chris Sattin from Gloucester was playing roulette on a website called Maria Casino and won £35,000, but he wasn’t allowed to withdraw his winnings.

He told Radio 4’s You and Yours: “I was shaking, my adrenaline was pumping. I pressed on the iPhone to withdraw, but nothing was happening. Because I’d never won these sums of money before, I thought maybe it’s only happening because it’s a large sum of money and I need to contact customer services.”

Maria Casino told Chris he had an account with its sister company Unibet, and he had used a self-exclusion feature on the site – something introduced by the Gambling Commission to help problem gamblers.

Chris told the company he had self-excluded only to close his account. But Maria Casino said this breached the company’s terms and conditions.

You and Yours contacted Maria Casino about Chris’s case and they decided to pay him the £35,000 winnings.

Sky bet bonus builder

Sky Bet Club

How to claim a weekly free bet:

  1. This promotion is available to individuals aged 18 years and over who have registered as customers of Sky Betting and Gaming.
  2. This promotion shall run from 28th July 2014 until terminated by Sky Betting and Gaming, at its absolute discretion.
  3. To register for the weekly free bet, login with your new or existing Sky Bet, Sky Poker, Sky Vegas, Sky Bingo or Sky Casino account and opt into the promotion.
  4. To then benefit from the promotion, simply bet a total of £25 at odds of Evens (or greater) before 23:59 on Sunday each week during the promotional period.
  5. Cashed Out bets will not be eligible for this promotion.
  6. Multiple bets will contribute towards this promotion as long as the cumulative odds are greater than Evens.
  7. Free bets will be credited to qualifying accounts on Mondays (by 7pm GMT).
  8. Free bet stakes are not included in any returns.
  9. Max free bet per customer / household / IP address / per qualifying week is £5
  10. Your £5 free bet will expire at 23:59:59 on the following Sunday after being credited.
  11. Subject to the above you will remain in the promotion and will receive a £5 free bet every week during the promotional period so long as you continue to qualify before 23:59 on each Sunday.
  12. Please note that the qualifying period each week during the promotional period is 00:01 on Monday until 23:59 on the following Sunday.
  13. Sky Bet reserve the right to withhold, restrict or cancel this offer from individual account holders in accordance with its eligibility, promotion abuse and internal trading risk policies at its own discretion and without prior notice.
  14. At times during the promotion, Sky Bet may choose to change your free bet offer, which will require a lower or greater qualifying stake.
    • If you are offered a different free bet offer you will still be able to qualify for the standard £5 weekly free bet offer set out above provided you meet the staking requirements outlined.
    • Aside from the change in both (a) the amount that needs to be staked and (b) the size of the free bet, all other staking requirements for the different free bet offer remain the same as for the standard free bet offer.
    • You will be made aware of any changes to your free bet offer via email and on the weekly free bet page within the Sky Bet Club (www.skybet.com/promotions/sky-bet-club) by 1pm each Monday.
  15. All other Sky Bet general terms and conditions apply.
  16. Sky Betting and Gaming General Promotion Terms apply to this promotion and can be viewed here.

Getting back into the Weekly Free Bet Offer

  1. If you fail to qualify in a given week during the promotional period, you will remain opted into the promotion during the following week but will not receive a free bet for that non-qualifying week. If you fail to qualify for a second consecutive week, you will be automatically opted out of the promotion and we will notify you as such.
  2. You may opt back into the promotion at any time during the promotion and qualify to receive a £5 free bet by meeting the qualifying criteria set out below, i.e. by placing a bet or bets totalling £25 at odds of Evens (or greater) before 23:59 on Sunday each week during the promotional period.
  3. Please note, the minimum requirement to remain in the promotion will remain at £25, even if you are offered an enhanced free bet offer in a particular week, and any qualifying stakes to regain entry will count towards an enhanced free bet offer.

Please note:

  1. Bet types which are excluded from promotion include:
    • Tote Pool Bets
    • Forecast / Tricast bets
  2. Any bets that have been Cashed Out will not count towards this promotion.
  3. Your qualifying bets can be placed on any sport and will qualify as long as the odds, or combined odds, are Even money or greater.
  4. Stakes from free bets cannot be used to qualify for further free bets (ie, qualifying bets must be made using your own funds).
  5. For a full list of FAQs please click here.

Sky Bet Club Bonus Builder

How to claim:

  1. This promotion is available to individuals aged 18 years and over who have registered as customers of Sky Betting and Gaming.
  2. This promotion shall run from 00:00 29th May 2017 until 23:59 30th July 2017, or until 200,000 customers have opted-into the promotion (the “promotional period”).
  3. To register for this promotion, you must opt into the Sky Bet Club, in accordance with the Sky Bet Club terms and conditions set out above.
  4. To receive your £2.50 Bonus Builder free bet, simply bet a total of £25 in cash at odds of evens (or greater) before 23:59 on Sunday each week during the promotional period, in accordance with the Sky Bet Club terms and conditions.
  5. Cashed Out bets will not be eligible for this promotion.
  6. Free bets will not count towards the qualifying £25 staking requirement.
  7. Multiple bets will contribute towards this promotion as long as the cumulative odds are greater than evens.
  8. Bonus Builder free bets will appear in qualifying accounts on Mondays (by 7pm GMT) but will not be available to customers until 31st July 2017.
  9. Free bet stakes are not included in any returns.
  10. Max Bonus Builder free bet per customer / household / IP address / per qualifying week is £2.50, except for the first week of this promotion where customers can receive up to a £10 bonus during the first Bonus Week. Max cumulative Bonus Builder free bet per customer / household / IP address / during the promotional period is £30.
  11. If you fail to place a qualifying stake in any week during the promotional period, this will reduce the maximum cumulative Bonus Builder bonus available to you on 31st July 2017.
  12. Subject to the above, you will remain in the promotion and will receive a £2.50 free bet every week during the promotional period so long as you continue to qualify before 23:59 on each Sunday during the promotional period.
  13. In accordance with Sky Bet Club terms and conditions, please note that the qualifying period each week during the promotional period is 00:01 on Monday until 23:59 on the following Sunday.
  14. Your Bonus Builder free bet will become available to spend on 31st July 2017 and shall expire at 23:59:59 on 7th August 2017.
  15. Sky Bet reserves the right to withhold, restrict or cancel this offer from individual account holders in accordance with its eligibility, promotion abuse and internal trading risk policies at its own discretion and without prior notice.
  16. Customers who become excluded from receiving free bets or other promotions partway through this promotion will no longer be able to accrue bonuses from the point of the exclusion but all bonuses accrued before the exclusion will be credited on 31st July 2017.
  17. All other Sky Bet general terms and conditions apply.
  18. Sky Betting and Gaming General Promotion Terms apply to this promotion and can be viewed here.

Matched betting shelf life

What is the shelf life of a matched bettor, and what options do you have when the gubbings happen?

Personally speaking my gubbings so far are…
Betvictor
ladbrokes
Whilliamhill
coral

Is there an accepted way to get an account back, via regular bettings with a gimped account, account closure then reopening after a certain time, what details need to change? Address, bank details? very interested to know what has worked for you.

William Hill gubbing spree

Looks like William Hill are on a gubbing spree, just 2 hours after placing a 6 fold accumulator on a 6 year old account the following was received.

Dear ********,

Following a review of your account, we regret to inform you that you are no longer eligible for any William Hill Online Sports and Racing offers. This means you will no longer receive football promotions such as Acca Insurance, Scorer 2nd Chance and Bore Draw, as well as Best Odds Guaranteed and Money Back 2nd for Horse and Greyhound racing.

This is in line with the terms and conditions applicable to each promotional offer.

Except as stated above, your William Hill account will continue to operate as normal and you shall remain eligible for all other William Hill promotional offers.

Kind regards,
The William Hill Team

Please click here to view our current Active Promotions and our general Terms & Conditions

William Hill & Ladbrokes second to SP fav channel 4

So for most Williamhill and Ladbrokes have changed their channel 4 races offer ‘money back second’, to money back if second to starting price favourite. The change in title looks minor but the offer difference is massive. It has become much harder to secure a free bet from these 2 now, is it the sheer number of matched bettors taking these offers that has forced the change?
Some people have received an invite only offer from William Hill allowing access to the old offer, the criteria or method for those invited is open for discussion, some 4 year old + accounts got the new shite ‘offer’ while accounts just 3 months old have access to the invite only!

We are writing to let you know that you will not be affected by the change in term of our Channel 4 Money Back 2nd offer when in becomes Channel 4 Money Back 2nd to the SP favourite for the start of the flat season

You are amongst an exclusive selection of customers who remain eligible for our industry leading offer.

The William Hill Team

BET365 2 hours after opening account

Are you a new Bet365 customer who has received the following within an hour of account opening?

Following a review of your account, we regret to inform you that we are no longer able to offer you our telephone betting service and whilst our online service remains available to you, betting restrictions will be applied on any future bets placed.

Should you wish to continue to use our services, the Sports offers and promotions available to you will be restricted to the following regular Sports offers which remain open to all customers: Channel 4/1 Offer; Feature Race 4/1 Offer; Sky Dogs 2/1 Offer; Australian Feature Meeting Offer; Best Odds Guaranteed; Racing Value offers; Aussie Footy Multi Bet Bonus; Bore Draw Money Back; Euro Soccer Bonus, Parlay Bonus, Euro Basketball Bonus and the Tennis Accumulator Bonus. For more information about our offers and full Terms and Conditions, please click here.

We assure you that this decision has only been taken after careful consideration and that it does not affect your ability to play and claim bonuses in our Gaming products.

Kind regards,
The bet365 Team”

Or perhaps a long term customer who has had the message out of the blue, either way it appears to be a full gubbing despite the confusing message.

Cheltenham bets from TGP Europe Ltd bookmakers

A number of people (match betters and non-match betters alike) are having their funds held by a number of bookmakers including TLC bet, Fun88, 12bet, 138 + more.  This is a developing story but early reasons they cite is ‘bonus abuse’. Profitaccumulator and moneysavingexpert is on fire with people who are currently awaiting hundreds or thousands of pounds in withdraws.  If you have an account with any of these bookmakers and participated in Cheltenham see if you have received a similar e-mail to the below..

Dear Valued Player,

We are writing to you as one of our valued customers in light of some recent press reports following our recent Cheltenham Festival offers in order to clarify the situation.

As a brand we are always aiming to reward and incentivise genuine customers such as yourself, however in order to protect ourselves from abuse we have in place a comprehensive list of terms and conditions so we can prevent abuse from those that we believe are trying to take advantage solely from our promotions. During the festival period we received unprecedented traffic, the majority of which was from genuine customers such as yourself. However we also received a high volume of multiple accounts and bonus abuse, contrary to our terms and conditions. As a result we had to undergo a comprehensive review of all activity over the Cheltenham week, this involved suspending payments during the review, unfortunately this affected some genuine customers and for this we offer our sincere apologies and hope we can rely on your understanding if this did affect you.

The process we took resulted in accounts that were deemed in contradiction of our terms and conditions had their accounts suspended and subsequently closed and all their transactions reversed both for winners and losers.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding on the matter.

Yours Sincerely

Head of Operations

Bookmakers posted massive losses after Cheltenham 2016, this could simply be a delay tactic for this group of bookies while they asses their cash position and get enough financing to satisfy all the customer withdraws after Cheltenham. Some info from them state they will refund all customers deposits they suspect of ‘bonus abuse’ which is dandy if the bets with that particular bookmaker lost, but if it has won and laid in a exchange those customers could be looking at massive losses.

It will be impossible for a bookmaker to prove any customer laid any bet on a exchange (except if they also own the exchange, I don’t believe any of the bookmakers withholding funds from Cheltenham does) but even if they could laying a bet is not illegal. It may be a term in the T&C’s but interestingly members on profitaccumulator and MSE have screenshots showing the bookmakers T&C’s in questions changed 1 day into Cheltenham to include such a clause and at no point were customers highlighted or accepted the new T&C’s prior to Cheltenham betting.

Garth Kimber head of Isle of Man gaming websites involved issue a statement to a local paper..

The boss of a series of gaming websites based in the Isle of Man spoke out today [Saturday] to Isle of Man Newspapers after gamblers claimed their accounts had been closed and funds withheld.

It was reported yesterday (Friday) that 138.com, 12Bet, Fun88.co.uk and TLC Bet have sent emails to customers suggesting they have abused the sites’ promotions systems in relation to deals offered during the Cheltenham Festival.

The news was widespread on Twitter and the UK’s Mirror website ran a story including details of a punter who is being denied access to £2,600 from accounts with all four companies.

Today [Saturday] Garth Kimber , chief executive officer of TGP Holdings Ltd said: ‘In response to speculation and comments on forums and in the press about certain brands TGP Europe Ltd would like to clarify our actions.

‘Following unprecedented volumes and unusual activities during the Cheltenham racing festival the company has followed our regulator approved procedures and terms and conditions and reviewed activity deemed suspicious.

‘All payments were processed for accounts not deemed to be under investigation and additionally all payments have now been processed for those accounts reviewed and found not to have been in breach of our terms and conditions.

‘For those accounts where the terms and conditions have been breached, account holders have been informed, the company has processed a refund of deposits, voided all bets (winning and losing) and closed the accounts.

‘The relevant authorities were informed of our concerns and subsequent investigation and we are in the process of sharing full details of the activities found to have taken place.

‘The company regrets the time taken and effects on genuine players but is committed to upholding both our own and the industry’s integrity.’

Mr Kimber said he could not comment further at this stage.

The Isle of Man’s Gambling Supervision Commission issued a short statement at 5pm yesterday (Friday).

It read: ‘I can confirm that the Gambling Supervision Commission is aware of the matter, however it is standard policy for the Gambling Supervision Commission not to comment on regulatory or compliance matters relating to its licensed operators.’

It is also understood gambling authorities in the UK have been made aware of the situation.

Read more: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/isle-of-man-online-gaming-boss-talks-of-unusual-activities-during-racing-festival-1-7830189#ixzz44mdY1RV5

Do you have an account in dispute? Leave a comment below.

Cheltenham 2016

Cheltenham 2016 March 15th – 18th.

My first Cheltenham event, reading on ProfitAccumulator forum I was expecting big things from this event.  Sadly I was working through 90% of the event but there was plenty of money in the exchange the day prior to the races that I could back and lay on the evening before.  Bookmakers I used for this was Skybet, PaddyPower, Betfair sportsbook, WilliamHill & Bet365.

Skybet had a very nice offer where first race of each day, if your horse lost you got refunded your stake (upto £25), this was easy guaranteed money using the calculator SNR mode, choosing a high odds horse with a good lay match meant an easy £80+ over the 4 days.  Throw in some mug bets on the other non-offer races.

PaddyPower had their money back second upto £25 per race, this is really simple back and lay horse a horse and hope they finish second, use favorites/second favorites/ third favorites etc is the best strategy while ensuring you only take the close exchange matches (as I said before even the day prior to the events Smarkets had plenty of money in, I think the average lose was around 50p per bet.

WilliamHill Same offer as PaddyPower but only applied to your first bet per race. (£25 max refund per race)

 
BetFair Sportsbook If you back a horse with a starting price (sp) of 3/1 or more (decimal 4.0) and it wins you get the stake amount back as a free bet, this applied to every race at Cheltenham (the first day actually tripled your free bet winnings therefore a £25 bet on a winning horse would have yielded £75 in free bets).  First bet per race only, and the starting price of the horse NOT what odds you took the bet at.

Bet365 If you back a winning horse with odds of 4/1 (decimal 5.0) or greater your next bet up to the same stake as the previous winner (upto £50) would be refunded if it is a losing bet.  The idea is back and lay a selection, if that wins place your next bet on an eligible race in SNR mode, this will guarantee profit win or lose.

Cheltenham week my spredsheet recorded a £575 increase from the week prior, I estimate about £475 was from Cheltenham itself, very very worthwhile.  I estimate it took about 30mins betting for each of the 4 days, after taking so much profit from the bookmakers it is suggested to mug bet a little more than normal. Don’t feel tight when looking for matches between the exchange and bookie (ie don’t always go for the closest match if you care about longterm life of your accounts, and after such a weeks profit we can afford to lose a little money on mug bets).

 

These are the offers I did, ProfitAccumulator listed 3 times as many but I stuck to the ones I already had accounts with, I would have exploited it more if I wasn’t busy with work, but I am happy with the results I saw 🙂

Gubbed by BetVictor

Aww no, a dreaded e-mail from BetVictor I have been gubbed. I cannot place a single bet of any amount (not even 1p). I don’t think I will miss them financially, I used them for the ACCA refund a handful of times but looking back at the history I never took much from them offer or free bet wise (and I had less in my float than I had deposited). Perhaps it’s because all the bets I placed with them always used the odds checker and were always 98+ rating (something I have learned since is not a good idea, always have some lower 90 to 95 ratings in there). Anyway the e-mail went like this…

Dear **** ********,

We are contacting you today to advise that a business decision has been taken by our Senior Traders and I must inform you that we will no longer accept sports bets (including Virtual Sports) from your account number: <*******>.

Your account remains open and you can use the account for the Casino, Live Casino, Slots, Games and Poker. You are able to view all previous and outstanding sports bets.

As explained in our Terms & Conditions:

11.1 BetVictor reserves the right to suspend or close Your Account at any time and for any reason, including but not limited to the circumstances set out in the Terms and Conditions.
Please be advised that as BetVictor reserves the right to amend or withdraw any offers at any point and without notification, no sports betting bonuses will be valid on your account. Therefore any unused promotional cash in your account at the time of restriction is no longer available for use.

We understand that you may be disappointed by this decision, however this is a business decision taken by our Trading Department. Please be advised that our Customer Services staff are unable to assist you regarding the restriction of this service on your account.

Should you require further assistance, please send your queries to nosportscomplaints@betvictor.com

Kind Regards,

Jack
BetVictor Contact centre.

This communication and the information it contains :-
a) Is intended for the person(s) or organisation(s) named above. Access to this mail by anyone else is unauthorised.
b) Is confidential and may be legally privileged or otherwise protected in law. Unauthorised use, circulation, copying or disclosure of any part of this communication may be unlawful.
c) May be susceptible to interference and should not be assumed that it has come in its original form and / or from the stated sender.
If you are not the intended recipient, please inform the sender immediately by email and delete it and all copies from your system.

BetVictor is committed to responsible gambling, for further information please visit
http://www.betvictor.com/sports/en/content/responsible-gambling

Onwards and upwards, that is Ladbrokes and now Betvictor. I like to learn from the gubbings and avoid a repeat.

Gubbed by Ladbrokes

My first gubbing (gubbed means to get barred banned or restricted). The e-mail went like this…

LOGIN ID: ********

Important account information

Hi *****,

We wish to advise you that we are restructuring our approach to bonuses, concessions, Free Bet refunds and Best Odds Guaranteed.

As a result a number of accounts, including yours, will no longer be eligible for bonuses, concessions, free bet refunds or Best Odds Guaranteed of any kind, effective immediately.

This restriction will be included in all future terms and conditions. All other terms and conditions remain the same and we sincerely look forward to your continued custom at Ladbrokes.

Please note any pending bonuses or concessions attached to your account have also been withdrawn.

Kind regards
The Ladbrokes Team

Betting Support 0800 731 6191

Gaming Support 0800 032 1133

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18+ Please Bet Responsibly
Ladbrokes believes in responsible gambling, for more information go to Gamble Aware

Bit of a blow as I take mug betting seriously, as long as I learn and minimize the chances of it happening with my accounts held by other bookmakers. Take a look at the IESnare page to see how bookmakers may be watching your activity.