UKGC Publishes New ADR Standards for Streamlining Gambling Consumer Complaints

Old town Edinburgh and Edinburgh castle in Scotland

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published new alternative disposition resolution (ADR) standards designed to create a framework for and simplify the processing of complaints brought by UK gambling consumers.

Always seeking better ways of making it simpler and more straightforward for United Kingdom gambling consumers to receive action on complaints about unfair treatment by operators, the UK’s Gambling Commission has announced new standards for alternative disposition resolution (ADR). The ADR process is the path through which consumers can take complaints if they feel that gambling operators have not handled a complaint properly, in accordance with the UK’s ever-evolving consumer protection laws.

The new standards, announced on October 1, will go into effect on October 31, joining changes to the industry-regulating license conditions and codes of practice (LLCP) that were made in August. The ADR enhancements are also largely directed to operators, though consumers are advised to look into the just-announced ADR changes to better understand their rights and responsibilities should a dispute arise.

Defining operators’ responsibilities

This latest Gambling Commission pronouncement enhances the expectations the regulatory body has about eliminating any gray areas regarding consumer-complaint and related processes, which can include a wide variety of issues. The UKGC offered this top-level outline of some of the matters addressed in the latest ADR update:

  • The types of consumer complaints we expect providers to take on.
  • Principles for considering compensation.
  • Decision quality standards, particularly focused on how providers look at and use evidence.
  • The Ombudsman Association’s (OA) six principles of good governance, which we expect providers to follow whether or not they are members of the OA.
  • Conflicts of interests.
  • The information and customer service providers give to consumers.
  • The information and data providers share with us and others.

All of the changes found in the Gambling Commission’s 32-page ADR update will be applied to complaints filed after October 31. A portion of the update is directed toward consumers to further clarify issues as raised from that viewpoint.

Industry “needed to improve”

The text of the ADR report includes a Gambling Commission declaration as to why the ADR framework needed expanded attention. According to the Commission, “Our review concluded that the industry needed to improve across all areas of complaints handling.” Those areas included:

  • Information that gambling businesses gave consumers about how to complain varied and was not always easy to find.
  • Data that gambling businesses gave us about complaints appeared inaccurate.
  • Consumers did not always get good customer service from ADR providers, and decision-making standards varied.
  • Our definitions prevented consumers from taking some complaints to ADR.
  • Consumers were not clear about our role in complaints handling.

The report also included an advisory of sorts aimed at aggrieved consumers, warning them that despite the latest enhancements, filing such a dispute still isn’t an easy chore: “The ADR process can be lengthy, and in some cases quite complex. It is important that ADR providers communicate with consumers in a way that helps to manage their expectations and increase their understanding of the process. Consumers need to understand where their dispute is within the process, how long it might take, and what their options are at any given time. This will help to improve the transparency of and consumer trust in the process.”

According to Ian Angus, program director for consumer protection and empowerment: “The standards published today seek to simplify existing complaints processes and ensure consumer complaints are handled in a fair, timely, transparent and effective manner. Improved standards will also help cultivate consumer trust and confidence in the industry. The standards will come into effect from 31 October, alongside further changes that provide stronger protection for consumers and ensure they are treated fairly.”