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Licensed gambling operators are required to meet certain standards when handling complaints, and offer dispute resolution by an independent third party or ADR provider.
Published: 1 April 2021
Last updated: 11 June 2021
This version was printed or saved on: 8 December 2023
Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/licensees-and-businesses/guide/handling-complaints-and-alternate-dispute-resolution-adr
Overview: > Licensed gambling operators are required to meet certain standards when handling complaints. They must also offer dispute resolution by an independent third party or Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider.
You must make sure your policies and procedures for accepting and handling complaints are fair, open and transparent.
Your procedures must give customers clear and accessible information on how to make a complaint.
They must also include:
You must have arrangements in place for your customers to be able to refer any dispute to an ADR provider if you have been unable to resolve the dispute within 8 weeks of receiving it.
You must also take account of any applicable learning or guidance that we publish and change your policies and procedures as necessary.
We expect you to follow our guidance on how we expect you to handle complaints and disputes.
In the guidance, we use the word ‘must’ for a legal obligation that you must follow. We use the word ‘should’ as a recommendation of good practice that we expect you to follow. We will expect you to be able to explain the reasons if you depart from that good practice standard.
You should accept complaints made in person, over the phone or by email where such facilities exist, or via third party intermediaries or support tools, such as the free online tool Resolver (opens in new tab).
You should provide the customer with written confirmation that they have reached the end of your complaints procedure at the end of 8 weeks after receiving the initial complaint (or sooner, if you reach the end of your complaints process sooner), with information about how to escalate the case to ADR.
You should also respond to enquiries from ADR providers within 10 working days of receiving the request.
You should not impose unreasonable time limits for customers to make complaints.
The entire complaints process takes 8 weeks or less.
This is day one of the process.
You should give customers an acknowledgement of the complaint as soon as reasonably possible and within 3 working days of receiving it.
If your business offers 24-hour gambling facilities, you should give acknowledgement within 24 hours of receiving the complaint.
We encourage you to be open and transparent when handling complaints.
This is the end of the process. You should then issue a final response in writing.
You may choose to put in place procedures so that the complaint can be escalated within the business.
You must ensure that the entire complaints process, including any internal escalation, takes no longer than eight weeks from when you first received the complaint.
The letter should explain the final decision and that this is the end of the business’s complaints process. It should also explain how the customer can escalate their complaint to an independent ADR entity if they want to.
The process ends if the customer’s complaint remains unresolved after eight weeks, or if you and the customer reach a deadlock or final position in less than 8 weeks.
You must offer customers dispute resolution free of charge if a dispute about the outcome of their gambling transaction has not been resolved by your complaints procedure within 8 weeks or earlier.
You must choose an approved ADR provider. You can have more than one ADR provider but you must tell customers which is the relevant one for their dispute.
We recommend you follow guidance on alternative dispute resolution (opens in new tab) originally produced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (now Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (opens in new tab).
We have summarised the requirements for licensed gambling operators and ADR as follows.
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. These are disputes of no more than £10,000.
For disputes over £10,000, the ADR procedure does not need to be binding. For example, this would mean that mediation could be used for disputes of more than £10,000 or for adjudication decisions to be non-binding on the operator.
You must provide information to you customers in a clear, comprehensible, and accessible way.
Your terms and conditions of sale or service contracts must include information about the ADR provider you use to resolve disputes.
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.
Failure to hold records and information may result in a dispute being resolved in the customer's favour if you cannot produce appropriate records or evidence.
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.
Gambling businesses which are not licensed by the Commission are not required by us to offer dispute resolution. For example, unlicensed family entertainment centres or pubs and clubs with gaming machines.
However, we recommend you read the alternative dispute resolution guidance in full to ensure your business is compliant with the law.