The UKGC has this week reminded licensee holders of the existing rules and guidance over dealing with customer complaints and issued new tips for better handling. The advice was released following a review of complaints policies, which found a “number of areas for improvement”.
The UKGC reviewed 34 licensee complaint policies from various sectors, assessing how easy they were to use. The review was referenced in the UKGC’s 2021-22 business plan, and the results complement the ongoing Government’s Gambling Review Act. It followed previous Commission research (Understanding consumer complaints), which highlighted that 8% of consumers had never made a gambling complaint, while 4% wanted to but did not. The central area of player complaints is non-payment of winnings, account closures, and misleading promotions and adverts.
The UKGC looked at potential reasons players do not complain, including the perception that the complaints procedure is tedious and “licensee(s) may be purposely difficult to reach”. While most of the complaint procedures and policies reviewed by the Commission met the set legal requirements, there were still areas for improvement, which would make the complaints procedure more accessible for players.
These are the new UKGC-issued tips for licensees to follow in offering a better complaints procedure:
Add a complaints procedure link to the homepage.
Use plain English to describe complaint procedures, avoiding legal jargon.
Have a short and clear complaints process.
Tell people what information you require to investigate complaints.
Inform consumers of the 8-week time limit for resolving complaints.
Be clear in issuing responses to complaints.
Use tech (like web forms and decision trees) to guide consumers through the complaints procedure.
Make contact methods available and accessible to all, including vulnerable consumers, and make adjustments where possible.
Record interactions and keep a virtual paper trail.
Use Resolver and other consumer support tools.
Inform consumers of their right to ADR and include signposting.
The Director of Policy for the UKGC, Ian Angus, elaborated that good complaint handling is vital for the industry. Consumers need to be able to quickly locate and understand policies and be able to raise complaints without barriers.
He continued detailing how research showed gambling businesses receive around 200,000 complaints yearly. Before being escalated to third-party Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), they must go through the operator first. The Commission aimed to assist operators in handling the complaints, improving outcomes and efficiency for all parties.
The Commission also reminded licensees of their legal requirements as laid out in the social responsibility code 6 of the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) and the guidance on Complaints and disputes: procedural, information provision and reporting requirements, which details the total obligations of licensees in handling consumer complaints.
For consumers who are unsure of how to make a casino complaint, this is the process already in effect and detailed by the Commissions complaints handling rules:
When making a complaint, the consumer’s first point of contact is the gambling operator or casino. Start by checking the casino’s terms and conditions linked to your account or transaction.
Then contact the operator via the complaints section of their website to register the complaint. Include as much information as possible, like the dates, times, amounts of money and any evidence to support the complaint.
The casino has up to 8 weeks to respond and solve the complaint.
If the consumer disagrees with the final decision, it can be escalated to an ADR service, which all UK gambling operators must offer.
The consumer does not pay for ADR.
The ADR will impartially re-examine the complaint and the operator’s decision.