The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) says its online gambling licensees can learn valuable lessons from last year’s ‘bonus abuse’ kerfuffle involving TGP Europe gambling sites.
In April 2016, the Isle of Man-based TGP Europe Ltd and Fesuge Ltd suspended over 5k customer accounts at four of the companies’ betting sites – 12Bet, 138.com, Fun88 and TLCBet – over what the companies alleged was abuse of bonus offers related to the 2016 Cheltenham racing festival.
TGP and Fesuge are both UKGC licensees, and thus the companies reported the account suspensions via a key event submission. The UKGC and the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) reported receiving over 1k complaints from around 800 individual customers stemming from the suspensions.
The UKGC says both TGP and Fesuge sought a voluntary settlement of the matter rather than a full license review. The UKGC said both companies cooperated with the investigation and acknowledged that their handling of the matter was “insufficient” and that their T&C’s were “unclear and ambiguous” regarding the bonus abuse policy.
The companies acknowledged that their promotions worked too well, in that the volume of new accounts overwhelmed the anti-fraud tools that should have detected new customers opening multiple accounts. The companies also admitted that they failed to make it clear that existing customers couldn’t partake of the new sign-up bonuses.
Neither company benefited financially from their non-compliance, and all customers’ stakes were eventually refunded, regardless of whether their wagers were winners or losers. The majority of complaints handled by the IBAS were settled prior to adjudication and the IBAS accepted that TGP and Fesuge had “acted reasonably” in the majority of cases.
The voluntary settlement required TGP and Fesuge to agree to the public statement outlining each company’s failings, to change their T&C’s to more clearly define bonus abuse, to hire a team of solicitors to conduct a full review of compliance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015, to appoint an Operations Manager to oversee changes to processes and controls, and to pay the £7k costs of the UKGC’s investigation.
The UKGC says other licensees should learn from TGP and Fesuge’s mistakes by adopting a proactive stance and examining their own T&C’s to ensure they meet established standards and that all policies are clear and transparent to customers.