no wagering

Wagering Requirements May Encourage Excessive Play, Says UKGC

As far back as Q3 2018, the CMA (Competition & Markets Authority) shone a glaring spotlight on the inadequacies found in practices of remote gambling in regards to the unfair terms found in consumer contracts. The T&Cs under the white-hot beam were imbalanced terms, disproportionate sanctions, and behavioral biases in regards to wagering – and more specifically – the application of bonus terms that restrict players from withdrawing their own money, on their own terms. 

With the global online gambling market size looking to exceed £90 million by 2027, it’s finally zero hour for operators to rework their key terms and ensure players are treated with the fairness and honesty they deserve. February 2022 saw the UKGC update guidance on fair terms and practices across the board for all remote gambling operations. Recently unearthed evidence by the GC suggests that licensees using unfair terms is, sadly, unsurprisingly common. Furthermore, the report highlights that the wording of terms and conditions can ‘give them [licensees] undue discretion to decide if and how they are applied’.

Examples set out by the UKGC include:

  • Terms that allow licensees to confiscate customers’ un-staked deposits
  • Terms regarding treatment of customers’ funds where a licensee believes there has been illegal, irregular or fraudulent play
  • Promotions for online games that have terms entitling a licensee to void real money winnings if a customer inadvertently breaks staking rules
  • Terms that unfairly permit licensees to reduce potential winnings on open bets

The steps laid out by the GC are as follows:

  • That all licensees review their terms in regards to bonus wagering, ensuring they comply with LCCP (License Conditions and Codes of Practice), consumer protection laws while also taking into consideration the Commission’s updated guidance. If requested, licensees should be able to provide evidence of how, precisely, their terms are both fair and transparent
  • Welcome bonus offers – and in particular – wagering requirements should be reviewed. A requirement of the LCCP is that bonus mechanics are created in a manner fit for a socially responsible gambling environment

A further adage from the UKGC stipulates: ‘that it does not expect conditions, such as wagering requirements, to encourage excessive play.’

Should a consumer not be content with a licensee’s complaint, it’s free to be forwarded to an ADR (alternative dispute resolution) provider. ADR providers are required to examine and adjudicate both contractual and transactional disputes between consumers and licensees. 

The GC doesn’t hesitate in regard to ADR expectations and states that they must consider consumer protection legislation when assessing disputes. This could include, for example, considering whether a contract term is fair. In the past, established operators had unashamedly attached wagering requirements exceeding 60x (and often up to 100x) and withheld deposit funds which are indisputably that of the players’. 

While previously it may have been a bleak expanse of seemingly never-ending wagering requirements for players, thankfully the future appears more optimistic. A greater number of online casinos are now approaching bonus mechanics with a different attitude. What once was a casino paying lip service to appearing as a fair casino versus the reality of in fact being a fair casino seems to be shifting. 

PlayOJO, under the wing of SkillOnNet is a proud innovator of the no wagering bonus scene. Julia Godal describes the liberty of a wager-free gaming environment: “PlayOJO is a very special casino where there is absolutely no wagering at all. We pride ourselves in fairness and transparency, being one of the very few casinos without any ridiculous Terms and Conditions leaving players to decipher what is what. In this industry, player welfare is extremely important.”

Eliminating uncertainty in regards to whether a player can complete a wagering requirement not only has monetary benefits for consumers but also has a positive influence on mental health. As the PlayOJO model sets about reshaping the remote bonusing landscape, this operator is not alone. 

Pavlos Sideris, Director at Double Up Media is a fellow pioneer in creating a safe environment for players in which to enjoy free spins with no wagering requirements as well as other bonuses and promotions. Double Up’s is an affiliate site with a difference. It’s not uncommon for a cursory Google search to reveal a huge number of third-party domains that proclaim to list wager-free casinos in their meta titles and descriptions but in fact advertise casinos that do have a wagering requirement. Not only is this misleading, but it’s also grossly irresponsible.   

Sideris weighs in: “We’ve been voicing our concerns over excessively high wagering requirements for years… It’s somewhat comforting to know that the GC now also recognises the same concern and we hope, at a minimum, this acts as a warning to operators who disregard the importance of treating players fairly”.

Although, it’s important to remember that the responsibility doesn’t always lie with online casino brands alone, as promotions are often handled by white label and turnkey casino solutions. These software third-party software providers also need to join the “no wagering” revolution, regardless of jurisdiction or programming inadequacies. 

In addition, language needs to be refined and uniform throughout the industry. Differing descriptions of operator-dependent wagering requirements, frequently worded as ‘playthrough’ or variations on this are seen throughout the industry’s terms and conditions. This not only causes confusion for players but also for legal teams that perhaps don’t come from a gambling background and are easily lost in the iGaming lexicon. 

For the majority of players, it looks like the no wagering breakaway is here to stay.           

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