New rules for gambling industry


All businesses need to win new customers to keep going. It’s particularly true in the world of gambling, where customers may gamble periodically, such as during major sporting events. Bonus offers, therefore, play a key role in getting the attention of new customers and in persuading existing customers to return.

At the same time, in the words of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), “Gambling is a risk but it shouldn’t be a con”. The CMA have come to the conclusion that some of the major gambling operators (including Ladbrokes, William Hill and PT Entertainment) have been too aggressive in their tactics for attracting customers (and parting them from their money) and has requested they clean up their act. There are three key points the CMA wishes to see addressed.

Wagering requirements

For a long time now, a typical advert from a gambling company would be something along the lines of “100% matched deposit bonus up to a maximum of £100”. In other words, for every £1 the player deposited, the gambling company would add another £1 to their account up to a maximum of £100. So if you deposited £100, you would have £200 to play with. However, the devil is often in the detail with gambling companies placing requirements on what the players had to do to meet the terms of the bonus. For example, the player could be required to make a high number of higher-risk bets in order to release their bonus. This would increase the likelihood of them losing their initial deposit and therefore having to make another deposit (putting more of their own money at risk) or sacrifice the bonus which tempted them to make the deposit in the first place. The CMA has requested gambling operators address this.

Restrictions on gameplay

Similarly to the above, the CMA has concluded that the gaming operators have not been sufficiently clear about the general rules of play on their site and has instructed the gambling companies to correct this situation. In particular, the CMA has specified that the gambling operators cannot rely on unclear terms and conditions to justify confiscating player funds.

The CMA has also instructed the gambling companies that they need to warn customers when they are playing with restricted funds.

Elimination of player publicity

While stories of people making big wins, particularly off free bets, are obviously great publicity for the gambling companies, the CMA has made it clear that players cannot be forced to participate in publicity.


Most of these changes are essentially procedural changes and can therefore be implemented very quickly; in fact the CMA requested that the gaming operators implement them by March 2018. The exception is the requirement to warn players when they are playing with restricted funds, which may require changes to IT systems and so the gambling companies have been given until the end of July 2018 to implement that specific change.

Stuart Jessop

Stuart Jessop is an experienced barrister, specialising in Regulatory Law and in particular in the following areas; Licensing, Food Law, Planning and environmental enforcement and health and safety law. Stuart regularly advises and represents individuals, companies, local authorities and other regulatory authorities and appears in proceedings in tribunals, civil and criminal courts and the appellate courts.