Watchdog clamps down on online gambling

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The competition regulator is to take action against some online gambling companies which it suspects of breaking consumer law.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said some punters did not get the deal they expected from sign-up promotions offering cash bonuses to attract them to gaming websites.

The CMA also said the firms were “unfairly holding onto people’s money”.

Online gambling companies should “play fair”, said the CMA.

Nisha Arora, CMA senior director for consumer enforcement said: “New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them.

“And players can find a whole host of hurdles in their way when they want to withdraw their money.”

The CMA launched its investigation into the gambling sector in October 2016. It has since heard from about 800 “unhappy” customers and has “demanded companies answer questions about how they operate, and closely examined the play on a range of websites”.

As a result it has identified “a number of operators engaging in practices likely to be breaking consumer law”, which is why it is taking enforcement action.

Initially the CMA is talking to the companies, which it says it cannot name, demanding that they change their practices.

The firms can offer undertakings about how they intend to do that. If they do not meet the requirements, the CMA can take them to court. The court could fine the companies or ultimately revoke their licences.

The online gambling sector has grown by about 150% since 2009 and is worth £4.5bn. The CMA said more than 6.5 million people regularly use the sites.


RBS: Small shareholders demand a say in bank bosses’ pay

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Small investors in RBS are pushing for the bank to set up a shareholder committee to give them a bigger say in areas such as executive pay.

Groups representing small shareholders argue they should be involved in ensuring good corporate governance. Investors hope RBS will serve as a test case so other companies will consider installing a shareholder committee. RBS said it had not seen full details but pledged to “look closely” at it once it had. The way companies are managed – and how much bosses are paid – has been been under particular scrutiny this year following the collapse and loss of 11,000 jobs at BHS and the revelations about pay and working conditions at Sports Direct.

Chief executives of FTSE 100 companies have a median pay package of £4.3m, according to the High Pay Centre, which works out at 140 times that of the average worker. In November, the government issued a Green Paper to explore improving how companies are run. It proposed that a shareholder committee could be set up “to scrutinise remuneration and other key corporate issues such as long term strategy and directors’ appointments”.

The UK Individual Shareholders’ Society (ShareSoc) and the UK Shareholders’ Association (UKSA), who represent retail (individual) investors, said: “We suggest that this initiative will significantly benefit corporate governance at RBS, and represents a valuable opportunity for RBS to lead the way in exploring a concept which works well in other countries.” ShareSoc and UKSA will present RBS with a resolution for the proposal to be included on the agenda at the bank’s annual general meeting in May, where investors would then be given the chance to vote on the measure.

A spokesman for RBS, said: “We have not yet received the final draft resolution. Once it has been delivered we will look closely to ensure that it complies with all corporate governance and listing guidelines.”

 


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