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UK Gambling Commission Issues Warning to Departing Online Casinos

Following the recent withdrawal from the UK by high-profile online gambling sites Every Matrix and ComeOn, the Gambling Commission has been forced to remind online gambling companies of their responsibilities to customers. It believes that online gambling firms need to make more effort to warn customers about what might happen in the event of insolvency, especially in the lead up to big sporting events like the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Major online operator ComeOn chose to close its UK-based operations due to increased regulatory pressure, giving customers very short notice to withdraw funds. The company stated that the decision to leave was based on the highly competitive UK market and fears of failing to meet compliance requirements. Every Matrix was forced to cease operations in the UK after the Gambling Commission suspended its license for a suspected breach of conditions following a review of the company’s customer interaction framework. However, the software manufacture and supply side of the business has not been affected and can still operate B2B activities in the UK.

The commission warns online casino operators that sufficient financial resources should be put aside to cover any liabilities that remain in the event of a withdrawal or suspension. It went on to state that the conditions by which any operator leaves the UK will be taken into consideration should it ever hope to reapply for a license at a later date. It highlighted the importance of providing adequate information throughout the process and addressing customer concerns and complaints.

The impending threat of Brexit and higher taxes

Many of the top sports betting sites in the UK are registered in Europe and are uncertain of their future following the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union. In addition to this, the UK recently announced a tax increase for online casinos planned to came into effect this month, raising the amount that online casinos are taxed from 15% to 21%. These issues and others could be contributing to a recent spate of online casinos leaving or planning to leave the UK market, including last year’s departure by 188bet and BetBright.

The UK Gambling Commission has also come under heavy criticism following the departures, with many blaming the tightening of regulations as a key factor driving away business.

“The UK is a very mature and highly competitive market, and the financial risks are big. We have never had a non-compliance breach, but we’ve seen competitors being fined big numbers and that creates uncertainty,” said ComeOn Chief Executive Lahcene Merzoug on his firm’s decision to leave.

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