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Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Licensed gambling operators are required to offer dispute resolution by an independent third party or ADR provider. 

This means that you must offer your customers dispute resolution free of charge if a dispute about the outcome of their gambling transaction has not been resolved at the first stage of your complaints procedure. 

This guide to alternative dispute resolution from The Department for Business Innovation & Skills provides details on the requirements your business needs to meet to comply with the law. We’ve summarised the requirements for licensed gambling operators below, but recommend you read the guide in full. 

Use of approved ADR providers 

The ADR provider you choose must be approved by the Gambling Commission. A list of approved providers is available on our website. 

You can have more than one ADR provider but it must be made clear to customers which is the relevant one for their dispute. 

Online dispute resolution (ODR) 

The European ODR platform allows consumers, operators and ADR providers to file, respond to, and handle disputes online (including disputes where the operator and consumer are in different countries within the EU).

Online businesses must provide information about and a link to the ODR platform.  

You must inform your customers of the existence of the ODR platform and the possibility of using the platform to resolve disputes, and you must include this information in any standard terms and conditions of business. If an offer is made to a customer by email, the email must contain a link to the ODR platform.  

Binding decisions 

We expect you to offer ADR which is binding (if accepted by the customer) for disputes which would otherwise be taken to the small claims court (disputes of not more than £10,000). For disputes over £10,000, the ADR procedure need not be binding - this would allow, for example, that mediation could be employed for disputes of more than £10,000 or for adjudication decisions to be non-binding on the operator. 

What you must tell your customers 

You must provide information in a clear, comprehensible and easily accessible way to your customers. 

Your terms and conditions of sale or service contracts must include information about the ADR provider you use to resolve disputes –their name, contact details and website address. 

Retention of ADR information and records 

You need to have appropriate arrangements in place to retain the information and records necessary to facilitate effective procedures for dealing with customer complaints and disputes. 

You need to retain information and records relating to disputes for a minimum of 12 months. 

Failure to hold records and information may result in a dispute being resolved in the customers favour if you cannot produce appropriate records/evidence.  

Reporting ADR to the Gambling Commission 

You must send us a copy of any decision on, or note of the outcome of, each dispute referred to an ADR entity. 

This should include:

  • the name of your ADR provider
  • details of the Commission licences to which the dispute relates
  • a summary of the dispute, including the parties to the dispute, the subject matter, the amount in dispute, the dates of the events leading to the dispute and the views of each party
  • a note of the dispute outcome, including whether the decision was in favour of the customer or not and whether you were directed to settle the amount disputed
  • the reasons for the decision, including relevant rules/provisions applied and supporting evidence. 

ADR and business to business operators 

The requirement to offer ADR applies only to businesses which contract directly with consumers. However, B2B operators should support ADR processes – for example by providing information to the businesses with which they contract to support investigation of a dispute. 

ADR and unlicensed gambling operators 

Although gambling businesses which are not licensed by the Commission (such as unlicensed family entertainment centres or businesses which offer gaming machines on their premises such as pubs or clubs) are not required by us to offer dispute resolution, we recommend you read the guide to alternative dispute resolution in full to ensure your business is compliant with the law.