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Advice for licensees on improving complaints handling

21 July 2022

The Gambling Commission has published tips on how to handle complaints, to remind licensees of existing rules and guidance. This follows a review of complaints policies that found a number of areas for improvements.

The Commission reviewed 34 licensee complaints policies, from a range of sectors, and looked at how accessible and easy they were to use. This work was referenced in our 2021/22 business plan to ‘explore how to improve how licensees deal with consumers when things go wrong’. The work will also complement the Government’s review of the Gambling Act, which includes looking at how to improve consumer redress arrangements in the gambling industry.

Our data publication, Understanding consumer complaints highlighted that 8% of gamblers had ever made a complaint. A further 4% reported that they wanted to make a complaint but didn’t. Our qualitative research explored some possible reasons for this, one of which included the perception that it is a tedious process, and that the licensee may be purposefully difficult to reach.

While most of the policies we reviewed met the basic requirements imposed on gambling licences, there were still areas where licensees could make improvements in their complaints handling. This will help make the process easier and more accessible for consumers.

Ian Angus, Director of Policy at the Commission says: “Good complaints handling is vital in the gambling industry. We want consumers to be able to easily find and understand policies and be able to raise their complaints without any barriers. We know gambling businesses receive around 200,000 complaints every year, and while the Government’s review of the Gambling Act will consider where these can be escalated to, the majority will still need to go through the licensee’s complaints process first. We want to help them handle these well, to improve outcomes for both them and consumers”.

We have written the following tips to help licensees improve their complaint handling. We have also reminded licensees of their requirements around complaints handling under social responsibility code 6 of our Licence conditions and codes of practice and signposted to our guidance on Complaints and disputes: procedural, information provision and reporting requirements.

Good practice complaints handling: tips for licensees

  • include a link to your complaints procedure on your homepage
  • use plain English and avoid jargon or legalese
  • have a short and clear process for complaints
  • tell people what information you need to investigate their complaint
  • include details of the 8-week time limit for resolving complaints or issuing a final response
  • be clear when you have given a final decision or reached ‘deadlock’
  • include clickable links and check that they work
  • utilise technology, such as webforms and decision-trees, to help guide people through the complaints process but always have alternative methods of contact available
  • be accessible for all, including vulnerable people, and make adjustments where required
  • keep a virtual paper-trail
  • utilise Resolver and other consumer support tools
  • provide clear signposting to ADR providers

For further details, see our Good practice complaints handling: tips for licensees.

Last updated: 21 July 2022

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