We are receiving ever-increasing volumes of disputes which involve accounts being closed and/or winnings being cancelled because a website operator alleges that the account is being operated by someone who already had or has an active account with that company.
As with all disputes, we will consider the strength of the customer’s argument and the operator’s defence of their activities based on the terms and conditions or rules of the company/website in question and the evidence supplied by both parties.
In general terms, we can understand why gambling operators would restrict accounts to one per person or household. This sort of clause is not unique to gambling and often reflects a situation where a company is keen to prevent one individual from taking advantage on more than one occasion of a particular offer or promotion that is intended to be used only once, for example a ‘new account welcome bonus’ or ‘new account free bet’.
Each dispute is different, but typically where it is alleged that a customer has opened more than one account, we will ask the operator to supply whatever evidence that they have of this and ask them to explain how they believe that the particular account or alleged account holder has benefitted from their actions. We recognise that sometimes a customer may open a duplicate account by accident or may receive no benefit or gain any advantage from doing so.
We are aware that gambling operators who have concerns about the credentials of a particular account holder’s identity are asking customers to go to increasing lengths to prove their identities. We have seen some examples of operators requiring customers to have documents confirming their identity notarised and having these notarised documents sent to the company’s head office, sometimes in overseas territories.
While we recognise that gambling operators have legal and regulatory duties regarding the prevention of crime and not unreasonable commercial grounds for not wanting their offers and promotions to be repeatedly used by the same people, we also believe that a customer who is able to satisfy the operator’s requirements should not be left out of pocket in order to prove that they are who they claim to be.