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Are Terms and Conditions Your Worst Enemy?
Recently I wrote an article about Andrew Green, a guy who took a casino to court in order to get his jackpot. The base premise of the casino’s defense was that the entire thing was due to technical error. Apparently, their T&C clearly state that all winnings caused by technical errors will be nullified. The court wasn’t impressed. Neither were Mr. Green and his lawyer, and frankly, neither was I. T&C policies are a huge mess, and often represent the Wild West of the casino industry, even when it comes to regulated casinos.
Do You Read T&C?
Terms and conditions are a legal document that defines the rights and obligations of both parties involved in a certain activity. That much we all know. Yet very often I feel as if T&C are purposely written to be as complicated as possible. Sometimes I even think they are written in a way to confuse and discourage customers from further reading. At the same time, T&C protect the company in the best possible way. And my gut (and experience) tells me I’m not wrong.
Basically, this is a contract you sign with the casino after you mindlessly click “I have read and accept T&C”. And the reason you do it mindlessly is because we are all tired of reading pages and pages of legal text. The average casino consumer, unless he or she has a law degree, will frequently find this type of document almost impossible to comprehend. Of course, not all T&C are created the same: some are really easy to read and provide useful information. Still, others take advantage of your lack of knowledge or laziness, and can even be considered a sign of business malpractice. In fact, they can be so bad that the companies should lose their licenses right away. Yet, that never happens, because the regulatory bodies don’t focus on T&C in that way. But in my opinion, it is about time authorities rethink their practices.
Regulators Turn a Blind Eye
No matter where you live, there is always some sort of law that requires the implementation of T&C on the website. Whether you are buying car parts or playing slots, that’s just how things are done. And that is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that not a single lawmaker, or casino regulatory agency for that matter, focuses on the overall quality, accessibility, and comprehensiveness of terms and conditions. Sure, they tackle the most important points individually (AML, payment methods), but they don’t pay close attention to the bigger picture.
In general, I have a big issue with the way regulators are handling the entire safety thing, not just regarding T&C. Instead of focusing on real user experience and customer protection by prosecuting unfair, unethical, and misleading business practices, they put their efforts into creating all sorts of prevention mechanisms for users to play in the first place. And we are all aware that they are ineffective. Instead they simply push customers in the other direction - towards unlicensed companies. In my career, I have read so many confusing T&C that it’s about time we set some rules. And I’m not saying that to make my daily job easier.
What many players don’t understand, and regulators often ignore, is that complicated and downright unethical T&C often go hand in hand with false advertising. False advertising and misleading information expose customers to a much higher risk than any type of payment method or deposit size. And most regulators don’t seem to care that the minimum withdrawal is €10 on the payments page, and €50 in T&C. Or that the company says there are no fees in one place, only for a player to find out there are some fees after trying to make the payment. The list goes on and on. This is most apparent with companies regulated outside the EU, with regulators notorious for a lack of standards.
Is There a Solution to This?
The obvious answer would be to repeat the evergreen advice to pick your casino wisely and to double-check T&C before signing up. But that is not exactly solving the problem, is it? We are all humans of flesh and blood, and our urges for excitement, fun, and that coin sound when you hit that line is much stronger than our reason. Also, not every player who is good at slots, poker, or any other game has to be a legal expert.
Rulings like the one from the beginning of our story help raise awareness of all the potential scenarios, as well as stipulations hidden in lines and lines of boring text. The news story that intrigued me to write this opinion piece will definitely reach the operators, as well. And they should know that T&C are not above the law. In my opinion, all businesses should operate in good faith, and casinos are no exception. Cases like this one damage the reputation of the entire industry, and harm even brands who operate completely transparently.
Is there a need for regulators to create a template for T&C? That would be downright insane. In the end, I’m all for the free market and managing your own business. But if a company is under investigation for any other reason, maybe the regulator could do a thorough review of the entire website, just to see if it all adds up and check whether the customer is being misled in any way. If there are any stipulations that put users in an unfavorable position, simply fine the casino. Nothing hurts big companies like money leaving their pockets.
This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and it doesn’t represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.