‘..the gambling industry’s longer-term sustainability is hugely reliant on trust – a recognition that customers using products and services are valued, respected and treated fairly. Respect in this context [includes]…how [operators] handle complaints…’
The Gambling Commission (the “Commission”) continues to utilise its powers as the competent authority for approving ADR providers for the British gambling industry, to ensure that existing and future providers continue to meet the requirements of impartiality, fairness and independence. Its review document, Complaints processes in the gambling industry (the “Review”), provides an update on the implementation of the ADR scheme after the European Directive on ADR was transposed last year and also takes the opportunity to look more widely at the industry’s complaints procedures.
Using their powers under the European regulations on ADR (the “Regulations”), the Commission has approved 11 ADR providers for the British gambling industry which meet the requirements of impartiality, fairness and independence. However, the vast majority of operators use just one provider, IBAS, meaning that customers are not being given a choice.
From mid-2017, the Commission aims to make it easier for consumers to access complaints procedures and to introduce greater consistency as a way of raising industry standards. This will start with the adoption of an independent online tool, Resolver, to make the complaints procedure easier and more accessible for consumers.
The Commission is also considering the possibility of operators being required to disclose further information regarding their complaints policies and making these policies more visible.
In turn, information provision by ADR providers or lack thereof has prompted the Commission to propose a review of all 11 ADR providers against a new framework of requirements which will aim to ensure consistency and quality in the standard of customer service, decision making and general support of the gambling industry.
The Review concludes that ‘complaints processes in the gambling sector are not working as they should for consumers. In particular, [the Commission is] concerned about some areas where ADR providers and operators need to make changes to the way they do things. [The Commission acknowledges it] needs to make improvements to some of [its] own processes.’ It is clear that the Commission wants to see operators striving for excellence in handling consumer complaints and not merely focusing on meeting legal and regulatory requirements.