The bookmaker, ComeOn, has decided to withdraw from the UK market, announcing that the unfavourable nature of it has made it difficult for the business to thrive. In what is being seen as something of a scathing criticising of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, ComeOn have said that the governing body’s licence has ‘lost its symbolic value’, leading to the company to choose to concentrate on ‘more favourable’ areas.
The operator has had a UK licence for around five years, having first entered the market in 2014. Competition pressures in the United Kingdom gambling market have now forced them to end their association with the country, however, leaving customers of the brand wondering what happens next. It is not just the main ComeOn website that will be shutdown, with the brand also owning the likes of Cherry Casino and MobileBet.
Why the Decision to Leave the UK Market
The decision to leave the UK market is one that has surprised many in the industry, especially as ComeOn haven’t really faced any regulatory complaints from the Gambling Commission. In confirming the decision to withdraw to stakeholders, however, it was suggested that they wanted to get out of the market before it did break some of the stricter rules the UKGC has put in place and was hit with a fine as a result. The Chief Executive Officer, Lahcene Merzoug, said,
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. At the same time, the UK license has lost its symbolic value. Before you almost had to have one to be looked upon as a credible company.
Merzoug went on to reference the fact that ComeOn is operating in a number of different markets that are seen as bigger and more important to the company than the United Kingdom. He said, “Today we hold licenses in many European countries and, given the UK has never been a big market for us, it’s a wise move to put our focus elsewhere.” This is the logic behind the decision to abandon the British market.
Acquisition by Cherry AB Influencing Strategy
ComeOn was bought by Cherry AB in 2017, with Cherry AB then being taken over by EE Intressenter earlier in the year. It’s likely that the change in ownership is a large part of ComeOn’s strategy, with Cherry having made the move to concentrate on European markets in recent months. The likes of Poland, Denmark and Germany are all higher on their list of viable marketers than the United Kingdom.
The fear of being on the receiving end of fines from the UKGC isn’t unfounded, given that ComeOn was hit by a fine from Spelinspektionen, the Swedish Gambling Authority. That happened last month, when they were issued with a fine of six million Swedish Krona for accepting bets from people under the age of 18. They were issued the fines alongside seven other operators that were guilty of similar offences.
It’s Not Just ComeOn
Though ComeOn is clearly the best-known brand that will be withdrawn from the UK market, it is not the only one. All of the following brands are also under the ComeOn banner and will therefore no longer be operating for British players:
- Cherry Casino
- Get Lucky
That list isn’t exhaustive but gives you an idea of what brands will soon be disappearing from the internet as far as British bettors are concerned. MobileBet is probably the second-best known brand that ComeOn hold the licence for, so will be another big loss for punters who are signed up to the site. Many of the sites are aimed at the growing market of mobile and tablet players.
Other Markets Will Be Targeted
Whilst it’s quite a big deal for British players to find out that sites that they use fairly regularly will no longer be operating, it won’t make that much difference to Cherry AB and the ComeOn brand. Whilst Merzoug was happy to stick the boot in on the Gambling Commission by talking about the fact that the UK licence has ‘lost its symbolic value, he was also happy to admit that it’s not one of the company’s most important markets.
It’s seems that ComeOn will now look to concentrate on the other places that its holds licences to operate. This includes countries, such as Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Malta and the Schleswig-Holstein state in Germany. They are all areas that the company believes are more ‘favourable markets’, so the decision to target them makes perfect business sense. Whether they end up missing the access to the British market remains to be seen.
Other Operators Are Leaving Too
There’s no question that ComeOn is the biggest brand to leave the UK market, but it is far from the only one choosing to do so. Indeed, the decision from the betting operator comes in the wake of the JPJ Group deciding to do the same thing. JPJ Group operates sites such as Vera&John and InterCasino, which stopped accepting new customers last month and will cease operating in the United Kingdom permanently tomorrow.
ComeOn and the associated brands will stop operating in the UK later this month, giving customers plenty of time to withdraw any funds that they have in their accounts. Interestingly, the company is taking a different approach to that of the JPJ Group insomuch as it is allowing new customers until September 23rd and deposits can be made until the 27th. Funds will need to be withdrawn by September 29th, with customer services handling withdrawals after that point.