The self exclusion feature offered by online casinos is certainly a valuable asset for helping people with problem gambling tendencies to get a control on how much money they may be gambling online. Granted, it does take a degree of self awareness that may not come until it’s too late in the downward spiral of addiction. But regardless, whenever that awareness does sink in, self-exclusion can truly save a person from flushing everything down the drain.
But what about a self-exclusion policy that does not restrict a player from making deposits and from gambling, but rather, from winning and making withdrawals? Clearly, this would seem to obviously defeat the purpose, not to mention be a complete breach of honest business practices. But that is apparently what happened to Chris Sattin from Gloucester in the United Kingdom.
Calling into a radio show, Mr. Sattin detailed how he had been playing roulette on a website called Maria Casino and how he was later shocked to learn that after winning £35,000 was facing real challenges in withdrawing his winnings.
“I was shaking, my adrenaline was pumping. I pressed on the iPhone to withdraw, but nothing was happening. Because I’d never won this large a sum of money before, I thought maybe it’s only happening because it’s a large sum of money and I need to contact customer services.”
When Mr. Sattin contacted Maria Casino’s customer service, they informed him that he had opted to be self-excluded for one of their sister sites, Unibet, and that paying him his winnings on Maria Casino would breach their terms and conditions. Mr. Sattin then went on to explain that he had only opted for the self exclusion on that site because it was the only way he could officially close his account on Unibet.
Whether Mr. Sattin was confused about what “self-exclusion” meant, or if he really did have a problem gambling habit and was “relapsing” at Maria Casino – doesn’t really matter. The real question is why Maria Casino would allow Mr. Sattin to open an account and begin making bets on Maria Casino if their self-exclusion policy was working properly and had the best interests of problem gamblers in mind?
Needless to say, it is highly suspect that Mr. Sattins self-exclusion would suddenly become active once he had won big on a sister site and was attempting to make a withdrawal. The radio station that he called agreed, and so they contacted Maria Casino.
Interestingly, with the pressure of a media outlet, Maria Casino allowed Mr. Sattin to withdraw his winnings. However, the negative attention has stirred up the interest of the Competition and Markets Authority in relation to a slew of complaints related to misleading bonus conditions and complex terms and condition that confuse players, thereby making it less likely for players to withdraw their deposits and winnings.
The investigation being made by the CMA is unequivocally a ‘good thing’. Addressing these concerns and making the online gambling industry more accountable, transparent and forthright is certainly a benefit of legalization and regulation.
As most seasoned online gamblers know, using tactics like bonus baiting and confusing withdrawal terms has long plagued the unregulated industry. Bringing the terms into light via regulation enforces that online casinos do not place unnecessary hoops and hurdles in front of players in order to withdrawal their deposits and winnings.