Online gambling business ElectraWorks has been fined £350,000 by the Gambling Commission for repeatedly misleading consumers with adverts relating to free bonuses.
Additionally, the operator has also received a formal warning from the Commission for failing to ensure that the person responsible for marketing at the business was in possession of a personal management licence.
On 17 August 2016 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint against ElectraWorks following the appearance of an advert offering a free bonus on its www.bwin.com website.
It was ruled that the advert used breached Commission codes stipulating that all licensees must abide by any relevant provisions of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) code, which relates to ‘free bet’, ‘bonus’ or similar offers.
A week later (24 August 2016) the Commission discovered another advert on the Bwin website which breached the same code. After being alerted to this, ElectraWorks removed the advert.
In April 2017 the Commission discovered six similar breaches on its casinoking.com, casinolasvegas.com, noblecasino.com, partycasino.com, partypoker.com and scasino.com websites. In June 2017 the same breaches were subsequently found again on these sites. And in August 2017 a similar breach occurred on ElectraWorks’ casinolasvegas.com website.
Richard Watson, Commission Programme Director, commented: “This fine should serve a warning to all gambling businesses that we will not hesitate to take action against those who mislead consumers with bonus offers or fail to ensure they are correctly licensed.”
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Commission have been working to improve conditions for players gambling online. The CMA announced on 1 February 2018 that three leading operators have formally committed to change how they offer bonus promotions to ensure players can always access and release their own money. The Commission has made clear that all firms should promptly adopt similar changes.
These warnings followed on from comments made by the CMA at the Gambling Commission’s Raising Standards Conference 2017, in which the group once again outlined that operators have to change with regards to promotional introduction offers.