Companies that run online  gambling websites are being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over claims of "unfairness", says  Sky News.

Regulators are looking into complaints relating to promotions such as free bets, and complex terms and conditions, which are often "cited for cutting winnings ", as well as complaints from customers that they are blocked from withdrawing their deposits.

Nisha Arora, the CMA's senior director for consumer enforcement, said: "Gambling  inevitably involves taking a risk, but it shouldn't be a con.

"We're worried players are losing out because gambling sites are making it too difficult for them to understand the terms on which they're playing, and may not be giving them a fair deal."

An estimated 5.5 million Britons use gambling websites. If the inquiry finds evidence that companies are deliberately misleading or ripping off customers it could "result in enforcement action against individual gaming sites, or prosecution in the courts," says the  BBC. The review, which is being undertaken alongside the Gambling Commission, will look at free matched bet offers that "disqualify certain games, or require customers to spend large amounts of money before they qualify".

It will also examine whether gambling sites use small print to prevent customers from claiming their winnings or their original deposit, and concerns relating to changes to betting odds made without gamers' knowledge.

In one case reported by BBC Radio Four's You and Yours, gambler Chris Sattin from Gloucester was prevented from withdrawing winnings £35,000 from a website called Maria Casino, which sited a "self-exclusion" feature he had activated on its sister site Unibet.

Maria Casino later paid Sattin the £35,000.

The Remote Gambling Association, which represents firms, pledged full co-operation with the CMA but said it did not believe there were widespread failings.





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