It’s an inconvenient truth, but a truth all the same, that occasionally betting operators act outside the conventions of fairness – certainly in the eyes of their punters, anyway. From withholding winnings to imposing minuscule limits on their customers, online bookmakers and casinos can, on occasion, act in a way that some punters would deem to be unfair.
Fortunately, the vast majority of gambling operators, including all our recommended brands, act in a manner that protects themselves while offering their customers a betting platform that is fair and responsible. But what happens when the minority spoil it for the rest? The complaints procedure can be long-winded, time consuming and, quite often, bears no fruit for customers.
In response, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has launched a new initiative partnering with online customer support specialist Resolver to provide punters with a direct avenue for their complaints. Through Resolver, customers can contact gambling operators directly, without the need to wait in long queues on the phone or in anticipation of an email being answered!
The great thing about Resolver is that it should redress the balance of power between customer and operator. Through the software, punters will be informed of their consumer rights regarding their issue, and a case file will be created that enables individuals to track their file and see if their complaint is being actioned or not.
Perhaps the key aspect of Resolver is that complaints are forwarded to gambling platforms from a Resolver-based email address, rather than the user’s own. The UKGC has confirmed that it ‘expects’ the betting firms it has licensed to accept and act upon grievances received via the complaint resolution site.
In a press statement that coincided with the launch, the UKGC reiterated that Resolver is not an intermediary service and does not act upon a complainant’s behalf. Yet they believe that having a structured process in place should ensure that more cases are dealt with efficiently and not ‘accidentally’ brushed under the carpet, as unfortunately happens all too readily.
Research from Resolver themselves found that around 25% of consumers fail to raise a complaint once they have understood their rights and legal footing, as explained to them by the dispute resolution service. So rather than receiving a deluge of complaints, gambling operators will only have to deal with issues raised, in the most part, by genuinely aggrieved punters.
This is just the latest in a series of moves from the UKGC following their most recent consultation period, which was entitled 'Changes to Our Enforcement Strategy: Putting the Consumer First'. The overarching findings of the report were that occasionally, licensees did not act with the best interests of their customers at heart.
The UKGC has since responded by revealing a new regulatory enforcement strategy, with any gambling operation failing to ‘put the consumer first’ expected to face subsequent action. Some of the industry's most well-known brands have already received record-breaking fines for misleading adverts and general misconduct.
While becoming embroiled in a lengthy complaint can be financially damaging for a bookmaker or online casino, often the public relations fallout is the largest penalty to pay in this age of social media and ‘public outrage.’ One of the UK's top bookmakers found that out when they failed to pay out winnings to an unnamed punter who (eventually) enjoyed a spate of success betting on horse racing.
After opening an account with a deposit of £30,000, the anonymous punter lost £23,000 almost instantly on a series of horse racing bets. She was contacted by the firm saying that her limits had been increased. Soon after she wagered the remaining £7,000 on the horses and managed to run up winnings of £47,000, which the bookmaker refused to pay out before restricting her betting – due to a ‘trader’s decision’ – to £1 bets only.
Crucially, there were no findings of fraud in the case and all bets were accepted by the trading team, and yet the firm still refused to pay out. This isn't the last reported case of PR disaster for big firms either. Earlier this year a UK sportsbook was taken to court by another punter who won in the region of £1 million.
The firm's argument was that the punter’s stake money was provided by a third party – a breach of their terms and conditions. Hopefully, with this new initiative, cases like this will become a thing of the past. If you're interested in joining a trusted and fair bookmaker to avoid needing this new service, head over to NetBet today!