Referrals to an ADR provider
I would like to make a Freedom of Information request for details of social responsibility cases you referred to IBAS following a regulatory settlement against an operator.
IBAS have made it clear that when a punter feels an operator’s acted irresponsibly, this complaint must be made to the Gambling Commission, once this procedure is followed and regulatory penalties get imposed on them similar to the complaint made then the Commission will inform IBAS.
Thank you for your request which has been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
In your email you have requested details of social responsibility cases you (The Gambling Commission) referred to IBAS following a regulatory settlement against an operator.
I can confirm that the Gambling Commission does not collate this information, as it is not within our regulatory processes.
Consumer complaints received by the Commission Contact Centre are recorded on the operators licensed account. Whilst we will also record the nature of the complaint, we do not have a record of social responsibility referrals to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers because we do not refer complaints about potential breaches to ADR providers. Under the Gambling Act 2005, it is the role of the Commission to consider breaches, such as failings of social responsibility processes.
The ADR Regulations require only certain types of complaints to be taken to ADR. We call these ‘disputes’. These regulations implement the European ADR Directive which states that it applies to “disputes between consumers and businesses concerning contractual obligations in sales or services contracts, both online and offline”
Primarily the role of an ADR provider is to adjudicate on transactional issues. So, if a consumer contacts an ADR provider about a matter of social responsibility they will sign post them to the Commission for us to consider from a regulatory perspective. The Commission will then consider the information and act when necessary. Some issues that ADR providers cannot adjudicate on are as follows:
- Allegations of corruption, fixing, cheating, reports of games or gambling businesses being operated in an unfair manner.
- Responsible gambling complaints: for example, if a consumer has experienced gambling harm – spending beyond their financial means or have been allowed to gamble when they are self-excluded.
- Reports of underage gambling.
The Commission approves ADR schemes which are consistent with current law and regulation and sets standards for ADR providers. We cannot instruct an ADR provider to accept a dispute. The ‘contractual obligations’ between consumer and licensee are set out in the licensee’s terms and conditions. When a consumer deposits money or places a bet, they are entering into a contract according to those terms. As a general rule, if an issue is covered by the terms and conditions, it is within the scope of ADR provision.
The ADR provider’s site will make clear what they do and do not cover. IBAS is the ADR provider for remote (online) gambling, noting specifically that “We do not consider complaints that a company has allowed an individual to gamble after they had requested to be excluded from the website or premises, unless there is evidence that the way that the company has handled the situation is a breach of their contractual terms and/or there is evidence that the company's actions in the treatment of this situation relied on unfair contract terms.”
Licensees’ obligations around preventing harm that are found in the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) or our guidance are not generally part of licensees’ terms and conditions and so do not form part of the contract between a customer and licensee.
Ultimately, I can confirm that the Gambling Commission does not hold information falling within the scope of your request.
Review of the decision
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your Freedom of Information request you are entitled to an internal review of our decision. You should write to FOI Team, Gambling Commission, 4th floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4BP or by reply to this email.
Please note, internal review requests should be made within 40 working days of the initial response. Requests made outside this timeframe will not be processed.
If you are not content with the outcome of our review, you may then apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have already exhausted the review procedure provided by the Gambling Commission.
The ICO can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office (opens in a new tab), Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Information Management Team
Victoria Square House
Birmingham B2 4BP