European Gaming Lawyer magazine EGL_Spring2017_opt - Page 29

Consumer complaints in the gambling industry: the Gambling Commission expects more from operators, ADR providers and the Commission itself by Stuart McMaster and Nicholas McVeigh S Stuart McMaster Nicholas McVeigh peaking at a Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group seminar on 29 March 2017, Sarah Harrison, CEO of the Gambling Commission, encouraged gambling operators to build businesses highly focused on consumers, aiming not just for consumer enjoyment but also consumer trust. On the same day, the Commission published a review, “Complaints processes in the gambling industry (March 2017)”, the foreword to which makes clear that eff ective handling of consumer complaints is a key element in building this consumer trust. European regulations on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) came into eff ect in October 2015. Th ese tasked the Gambling Commission with responsibility for certifying ADR providers in the British gambling sector. Th e Commission is now reviewing the impact the regulations have had and taking the opportunity to look more generally at complaints procedures across the gambling sector. Th e Commission’s proposals and areas of focus for further consultation cover not just what the Commission will expect from gambling operators and ADR providers, but also ways in which the Commission itself can more eff ectively put in place rules and standards to support those operators and providers. In particular, the Gambling Commission is challenging operators to “take complaints more seriously by operating complaints procedures that are genuinely accessible and that give consumers trust that their concerns have been listened to and acted upon in a timely way”. Th e Gambling Commission also states that it wants to make it easier for consumers to make complaints. A wider range of disputes to be subject to ADR? As the Commission notes in its review, ADR providers can look only at disputes relating to the outcome of gambling transactions. Th e Commission’s view is that this includes disputes related to the application of bonus off ers, account management, or the ability to access funds and winnings, since those are all part of the overall gambling transaction. However, the ability of ADR providers to adjudicate on these disputes can be complicated where the operator has suspended or closed the customer’s account because of AML/problem gambling concerns. Th e Commission is concerned that the ADR process may be frustrating for consumers, because their complaints may not be resolved for long periods, and the consumer may be left in the dark regarding the progress of their dispute. European Gaming Lawyer | Spring Issue | 2017 |