New UK consumer dispute will "put consumer first"

3 October 2018

New UK guidelines on resolving customer disputes in the gambling industry have been welcomed by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA).

The requirements for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) providers introduced by the Gambling Commission will be introduced from the end of this month.

The new standards and guidance set out how consumer complaints should be handled and make clear the Commission’s expectations around areas such as the types of complaints ADRs are expected to take on, conflicts of interest and the information and customer service providers give to consumers.

One key area of change is over the consideration of compensation, with ADRs told to “recognis[e] the emotional or practical impact on the consumer, rather than punish the business”.

Discussing the guidelines, Brian Wright, the RGA’s director of business, said they demonstrate the Gambling Commission’s “notion of putting the consumer first…in a practical sense.”

“The standards appear to supplement rather than replace the requirements of the ADR Regulations, and additional standards around transparency, independence, customer service, consistency and the types of complaints the regulator expect providers to take on must be in the interests of the consumer,” he told iGamingBusiness.com.

The Gambling Commission said the standards seek to simplify existing complaints processes and ensure consumer complaints are handled in a “fair, timely, transparent and effective manner”.

Ian Angus (pictured), programme director for consumer protection and empowerment, said: “Improved standards will also help cultivate consumer trust and confidence in the industry.”

While positive about the changes, the RGA’s Wright called for feedback from the ADRs to be taken into account.

He told iGamingBusiness.com: “While we support any attempt to streamline and simplify ADR procedures to make them easier for consumers to access and understand, it is vital that the Commission maintain constructive dialogues with the existing service providers and utilise their expertise, in the case of IBAS, stretching back over 20 years to establish what is ultimately achievable in this area.”