Online gambling operator ComeOn has decided to close shop in the UK amid growing regulatory pressure in Europe’s largest regulated market.
In a statement to the press, the CEO of the Malta-based online casino and betting business said that they would pull their three UK-facing brands to “focus on more favorable markets.”
ComeOn entered the UK gambling market in 2014. The company operated three brands under licenses issued by the UK Gambling Commission, with those three being its flagship ComeOn operation, Mobile Bet, and Get Lucky.
In 2017, Swedish gambling group Cherry AB acquired ComeOn to strengthen its position in the Nordics and to improve its financial performance by enhancing its digital gaming and betting operations.
Apart from its UK Gambling Commission license, ComeOn also holds licenses by the gambling regulators of Malta, Sweden, the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, and Poland, where it operates a sports betting website. Most recently, the company also obtained a license from the Danish Gambling Authority that would enable it to enter another regulated Scandinavian market.
Commenting on their exit from the UK, ComeOn’s CEO, Lahcene Merzoug said that the country has “never been a big market” for them and that they believe “it’s a wise move to put our focus elsewhere.”
UK Licenses Losing Their “Symbolic Value”
UK-facing gambling operators have witnessed turbulent times in recent years, with the local regulator and the UK Government constantly looking to tighten their grip on an industry that annually generates more than £14.5 billion in gross gambling yield (gross gambling revenue).
Since the beginning of 2019, the UK Gambling Commission has introduced new, stricter, KYC and care-of-duty policies, has launched a consultation that could potentially result in an outright ban on gambling with credit cards, and has slapped multiple fines on operators that have failed to comply with the ever-tightening terms of their licenses, including a £5.9 million penalty package imposed on Ladbrokes Coral over “systematic failings” to protect problem gamblers.
Commenting on the current regulatory situation in the UK, ComeOn’s CEO said in his recent statement that:
“UK is a very mature and highly competitive market and the financial risks are big. We have never had a non-compliance breach, but we’ve seen competitors being fined big numbers and that creates uncertainty.”
Mr. Merzoug elaborated that at the same time holding a license issued by the UK Gambling Commission has “lost its symbolic value” and that while in the past “you almost had to have one to be looked upon as a credible company,” nowadays companies hold licenses in many European countries.
In an email to its UK gambling customers as well as to its affiliate partners, ComeOn said that the company would stop accepting new UK-based players and bettors from September 23 and that it would stop accepting deposits from existing UK-based customers and would close their accounts on September 27.
Players will have to withdraw their funds from their accounts until September 29. If they fail to do so, they will have to contact ComeOn’s customer support team to have their remaining funds transferred to their bank accounts.
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