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Consumer Perceptions of the Complaints Process

Consumer Perceptions of the Complaints Process

Published: 21 October 2021

Last updated: 21 October 2021

This version was printed or saved on: 7 October 2022

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/guidance/consumer-perceptions-of-the-complaints-process

Key facts

  • Consumers appear to be more certain that they’d make a complaint in a scenario where there is a failure to payout, compared to gambling more than they could afford to lose.
  • Similar to the findings from the 2CV research, most respondents felt that it was their own choice to gamble, and therefore their own responsibility to monitor time and money spent gambling – hence they wouldn’t make a complaint in this situation.
  • Across both scenarios, consumers have concerns around how their complaint would be received, with over half (54%) of gamblers agreeing that they think the gambling company wouldn’t take their complaint seriously if they had spent more time and money than planned. This compares to 27% in the scenario where there is a failure to payout.
  • The proportion of consumers stating that they’d use the money to gamble again is similar across both scenarios, with 20% agreeing with the statement in each scenario. Problem gamblers are most likely to agree to this statement, with over 50% doing so in each scenario.

Introduction/About the Online Survey

The Commission collects in depth data from online gamblers about their online gambling behaviour via a quarterly online tracker, conducted by Yonder Consulting as part of their online omnibus. Data is collected on c.8,000 adults aged 18+ in Great Britain per year1. The online survey sample is sourced through Yonder’s panel, and the sample is subject to quotas in-line with those used for the Commission’s quarterly telephone survey. The variables used for weighting are age, gender, region, social grade, tenure and working status2.

Scenario 1

“Imagine you’ve been gambling online for several hours. You lost track of time and spent more money than you planned. The gambling company did not contact you or check you were ok.”

Likelihood of making a complaint

I would make a complaint to the gambling company in this situation - a bar chart made up of 6 vertical bars

Strongly AgreeAgreeNeitherDisagreeStrongly DisagreeDon’t Know
8%14%18%16%26%17%
Source: Yonder Quarterly Online Tracker - June 2021 Base: n=1480 Respondents aged 18+ who have gambled in the past 12 months

There is a sense of uncertainty amongst gamblers when asked if they’d make a complaint in a situation where they had spent more time and money than planned, with 17% of gamblers selecting ‘Don’t Know’. 42% of respondents disagreed that they would make a complaint in this situation.

Agree to making a complaint in this situation - a bar chart made up of 14 vertical bars.

NET AgreeBase size
Total23%1480
Male26%708
Female19%772
18-2428%152
25-3420%251
35-4422%248
45-5423%293
55-6422%233
65+24%303
Non-problem gambler19%962
Low-risk gambler20%226
Moderate risk gambler31%148
Problem gambler45%144
Made a complaint41%197
Source: Yonder Quarterly Online Tracker - June 2021

Reasons for agreeing to make a complaint to the gambling company

Approximately 335 gamblers agreed that they’d make a complaint in this situation. Some respondents feel that the operator has a duty to protect and inform consumers. Some cite this as a ‘moral duty’ that applies ‘at all times’ but for others, it appears to be conditional on the individual using on-screen reminders and other safer gambling tools.

1). It is the operator’s responsibility to protect and inform consumers in these situations (c. 50% of those who agreed).

“I think any company offering gambling activates has a moral responsibility to also offer reminders to customers. I think this warrants a complaint.”

“If I've selected for on screen reminders to let me know how long I've been playing, and they don't inform me of this, they're breaking their own rules. Those reminders are there so we the consumer can make an informed choice of we want to continue playing or not, if we do lose track of time.”

2). A number of respondents cited that they would complain, but ‘in hope rather than expectation’ and had concerns about not being taken seriously (c. 8% of those who agreed).

“I would be wary of having too much confidence in a complaint being worth the effort. However I'm aware of gambling companies' increasing willingness to at least appear to be supportive in tackling the problem of gambling addiction”

“I’m not sure they would act in anyone other than the bookmakers interests”

3). Other reasons: for example wanting to try and get their money back or to get a quicker response (c. 8% of those who agreed).

“To get quicker response”

“So I could get a refund or a compensation”

“Makes sense although I do not gamble and would never need to use this tool”

Across both those who agreed and disagreed that they would make a complaint in this situation, c. 55 respondents felt that both themselves and the operator should have joint/partial responsibility for ensuring consumers are spending within their means.

Reasons for disagreeing to make a complaint to the gambling company

Approximately 640 gamblers disagreed that they’d make a complaint in this situation. Similar to the findings from the 2CV research, most respondents felt that it was their own choice to gamble, and therefore their own responsibility to monitor time and money spent gambling – hence they wouldn’t make a complaint in this situation. A small number of respondents, falling across the ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ categories felt some level of uncertainty as to how a complaint would be received, citing comments such as ‘it would be made in hope rather than expectation’.

1). It is my own responsibility and choice to spend time and money on my gambling (c. 76% of those who disagreed)

“I am an adult and if I can't control myself and my gambling then it's just my problem. I would not complain.”

“Unless I'd specified I wanted alerts about my gambling, I wouldn't expect them to be prompted to offer such alerts, so there would be nothing to complain about. If I have a problem gambling then it's my problem to fix, and the first step would be activating those alerts.”

2). Some respondents said they would be unlikely to complain as they felt they wouldn’t be listened to, and so wouldn’t waste their time (c. 12% of those who disagreed)

“I don't think they would believe me, and I would not feel that I could prove that I overspent.”

“I don’t think the company would accept that it had a duty towards me in that situation, whether or not they should.”

“They're only interested in making money so why would they care that a small percentage feel that they had a bad experience”

3). A minority of respondents felt that they would be ‘blamed’, or ignored by the operator if they were to make a complaint in the situation (c. 3% of those who disagreed)

“Because they would say it's my own fault”

“Who made me stay online gambling. Think the company would say it was down to me”

“I would presume the company would say I was responsible for my actions”

Across both those who agreed and disagreed that they would make a complaint in this situation, c. 55 respondents felt that both themselves and the operator should have joint/partial responsibility for ensuring consumers are spending within their means.

Attitudes surrounding the complaints process

Attitudes surrounding the complaints process - a bar chart made up of 6 vertical bars. Each bar is broken down into the percentage of people who strongly agree, agree, neither, disagree, strongly disagree or don't know.

Strongly AgreeAgreeNeitherDisagreeStrongly DisagreeDon't Know
I don't think the gambling company would take my complaint seriously22%32%17%6%4%18%
I would prefer to complain to an independent body, rather than directly to the gambling company14%21%28%8%10%20%
I expect the experience of making a complaint to have a satisfactory outcome12%17%24%14%14%19%
I would expect my money to be refunded if my complaint was upheld15%17%19%12%19%18%
If I received a positive outcome from the complaint, it would give me the confidence to make a complaint again in future if I had a problem24%34%20%2%3%17%
If I received a refund, I would use the money to gamble again5%10%27%9%28%22%
Source: Yonder Quarterly Online Tracker - June 2021 Base: n=1480 Respondents aged 18+ who have gambled in the past 12 months

Consumers have concerns around how their complaint would be received, with over half (55%) of gamblers agreeing that they think the gambling company wouldn’t take their complaint seriously. Around 6 in 10 respondents felt that if they received a positive outcome from a complaint, it would give them the confidence to make another in future if they had a problem.

Scenario 2

“Imagine you’ve placed a bet on a football match. You think the bet should have been a winner, but after 24 hours the winnings have not appeared in your account. There is no explanation as to why.”

Likelihood of making a complaint

I would make a complaint to the gambling company in this situation scenario 2 - a bar chart made up of 6 vertical bars

Strongly AgreeAgreeNeitherDisagreeStrongly DisagreeDon’t Know
50%26%10%2%1%11%
Source: Yonder Quarterly Online Tracker - June 2021 Base: n=1480 Respondents aged 18+ who have gambled in the past 12 months

The majority (76%) of gamblers agreed that if they were in a situation whereby they weren’t awarded winnings for what they think should be a winning bet, they would make a complaint to the gambling company. This was particularly the case amongst males, those aged 35-64 and moderate risk gamblers.

Agree to making a complaint in this situation scenario 2 - a bar chart made up of 14 vertical bars.

NET AgreeBase size
Total76%1480
Male79%708
Female73%772
18-2473%152
25-3472%251
35-4477%248
45-5477%293
55-6481%233
65+75%303
Non-problem gambler76%962
Low-risk gambler73%226
Moderate risk gambler80%148
Problem gambler73%144
Made a complaint86%197
Source: Yonder Quarterly Online Tracker - June 2021

Reasons for agreeing to make a complaint to the gambling company

The majority of gamblers (around 1,100) in the sample agreed that they’d make a complaint in this situation. The general consensus amongst respondents is that making a complaint is that it’s ‘the right thing to do’, that they placed the bet and were correct, and so they are entitled to receive the money. Attitudes towards the operator seem to differ within this, with some feeling ‘cheated’ by the operator, whereas others felt that it may have been an honest mistake and would trust the operator to put it right.

1). It’s fair, I placed the bet and was correct, so therefore I am owed the money (c. 55% of those who agreed)

“If in the occasion I believe I should have been paid for a winning bet, I would feel entitled to the winnings and so would feel I had to right to complain.”

“If I believed that I should have had winnings, I would expect the company to explain why I haven’t received my winnings. If I was then proved right I would expect the winnings asap.”

2). The feeling of being ‘cheated’ by the gambling operator is prominent (c. 12% of those who agreed)

“Because I think they are trying to fool me.”

“I feel I am right to complaint, but big organisations and likely to have loop-holes and small print to not pay”

3). A number of respondents felt it may have been an honest mistake by the operator, so would trust them to put it right (c. 9% of those who agreed)

“I would complain to them in the first instance as it could be a delayed payment caused by a computer glitch and explained and rectified by them”

“I believe in giving the gaming company the chance to rectify the issue. Most gaming operators in the UK are regulated, therefore more likely to be fair in dealing with problems.”

Across both those who agreed and disagreed that they would make a complaint in this situation, around 150 respondents felt that they’d query this with an operator informally first, to give them the chance to explain and put the situation right.

Reasons for disagreeing to make a complaint to the gambling company

Very few respondents disagreed to making a complaint overall (c. 60 respondents), but among those that did, there was a feeling that respondents would not be taken seriously, and that if the bet didn’t come through it simply meant that they did not win.

1). Some respondents felt that they wouldn’t be taken seriously so there would be ‘no point’ in putting a complaint forward (c. 23% of those who disagreed)

“I don’t think they would take me serious”

“I don’t think my complaint would be taken seriously- if I gamble it’s only very small amounts, so hardly worth a complaint.”

“I don’t think it would help me at all”

2). Others felt that it was not the companies responsibility, if the bet didn’t come through then it is assumed to be correct and therefore they didn’t win the bet (c. 25% of those who disagreed).

“The scenario implies that it is an expected win, not an actual win - I would feel ridiculous making a complaint about something that wasn't even accurate”

“No point, clearly it wasn’t a winner. If it was then I would of received the money.”

Across both those who agreed and disagreed that they would make a complaint in this situation, around 150 respondents felt that they’d query this with an operator informally first, to give them the chance to explain and put the situation right.

Attitudes surrounding the complaints process

Attitudes surrounding the complaints process scenario 2 - a bar chart made up of 6 vertical bars. Each bar is broken down into the percentage of people who strongly agree, agree, neither, disagree, strongly disagree or don't know.

I don't think the gambling company would take my complaint seriouslyI would prefer to complain to an independent body, rather than directly to the gambling companyI expect the experience of making a complaint to have a satisfactory outcomeI would expect my money to be refunded if my complaint was upheldIf I received a positive outcome from the complaint, it would give me the confidence to make a complaint again in future if I had a problemIf I received a refund, I would use the money to gamble again
Strongly Agree7%13%38%57%49%8%
Agree20%17%30%21%29%12%
Neither24%31%15%9%12%30%
Disagree19%16%3%2%1%9%
Strongly Disagree14%10%3%2%1%22%
Don't Know16%13%11%9%8%20%
Source: Yonder Quarterly Online Tracker - June 2021 Base: n=1480 Respondents aged 18+ who have gambled in the past 12 months

Consumers appear to be more confident in their attitudes compared to the earlier scenario, with 68% of consumers agreeing that they expect the experience of making a complaint to have a satisfactory outcome. Similar to the previous scenario, many gamblers agree that a successful outcome from the complaint would give them the confidence to make a complaint again in future, if they had a problem (78%).

How consumers would use money if they received a refund

NET Agree ‘If I received a refund, I would use the money to gamble again’Scenario 1Scenario 2Base size
Total15%19%1480
Male19%26%708
Female10%12%772
18-2426%27%152
25-3419%26%251
35-4421%31%248
45-5413%18%293
55-6411%13%233
65+5%5%303
Nonproblem gambler8%11%962
Low risk gambler12%21%226
Moderate risk gambler28%33%148
Problem gambler50%56%144
Source: Yonder Quarterly Online Tracker - June 2021

Responses to the ‘If I received a refund, I would use the money to gamble again’ statement where broadly similar over the two scenarios, with 15% and 19% of gamblers agreeing in each scenario respectively. When looking at responses amongst problem gamblers, the figures rise to 50% and 56%.

Appendix – Survey Questions

Ask all who have gambled through any mode in the past 12 months in Q1 - Past 7 days, past 4 weeks or past 12 months.

We would now like you to think about the idea of complaining to a gambling company, using the following scenario:

Imagine you’ve been gambling online for several hours. You lost track of time and spent more money than you planned. The gambling company did not contact you or check you were ok.

QComplaintOp1 - With the previous scenario in mind, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?:

  1. Strongly agree
  2. Slightly agree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Slightly disagree
  5. Strongly disagree
  6. Don’t know

Ask if QComplaintOp1 was answered with options 1,2,4,5 to ‘I would make a complaint to the gambling company in this situation’

QComplaintOpen1. You stated that you strongly/slightly agree/slightly disagree/strongly disagree that you would make a complaint to the gambling company in this situation. Please explain why you feel this way? In your response you could include what concerns you might have about making a complaint about this scenario, or what you think the benefits might be.

Ask all who have gambled through any mode in the past 12 months in Q1 - Past 7 days, past 4 weeks or past 12 months

We would now like you to think about the idea of complaining to a gambling company, using the following scenario:

Imagine you’ve placed a bet on a football match. You think the bet should have been a winner, but after 24 hours the winnings have not appeared in your account. There is no explanation as to why.  

QComplaintOp2. With the previous scenario in mind, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements:

  1. Strongly agree
  2. Slightly agree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Slightly disagree
  5. Strongly disagree
  6. Don’t know

Ask if QComplaintOp2 was answered with option 1,2,4,5 to ‘I would make a complaint to the gambling company in this situation’

QComplaintOpen2 You stated that you strongly/slightly agree/slightly disagree/strongly disagree that you would make a complaint to the gambling company in this situation. Please explain why you feel this way? In your response you could include what concerns you might have about making a complaint about this scenario, or what you think the benefits might be.

The question order was counterbalanced so that approximately half of respondents received QComplaintOp1 first, and the other half received QComplaintOp2 first. This was to remove order effects that may have otherwise occurred.