UKGC Advised Licensees to Better Handle Complaints

Minister Philp Addressed Online Slots, Casinos, National Lottery

The Gambling Commission in the UK issued advice to licensees to remind them of existing rules and guidance, as well as give them tips on how to handle customer complaints.

Review Identified Areas for Improvements

The Gambling Commission acted on the findings of its review of complaints policies which showed areas where incumbents can improve the way they handle unsatisfied customers. The review probed into the policies of 34 licensees from different sectors and sought to find out the ease of accessibility and use of these policies.

Ian Angus, director of Policy at the Gambling Commission, addressed the matter:

Good complaints handling is vital in the gambling industry said.

Ian Angus, director of Policy, UKGC

Angus stressed the regulator’s objective is to provide consumers with easily accessible policies that do not create barriers for them when they want to file a complaint.

The review of customer complaints policies was conducted under the Commission’s 2021/22 business plan which stated the regulator would explore the way unhappy customers are treated by licensees. The review will also contribute to the government’s Gambling Act 2005 review in the section treating improvements for consumer redress arrangements within the gambling industry.

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.

Ian Angus, director of Policy, UKGC

Angus highlighted the Commission’s objective is to help incumbents handle customer complaints better and improve outcomes for both the operators and consumers.

According to the Commission’s data publication, 4% of gamblers wanted to file a complaint but never did while 8% of them had already made a complaint with a gambling operator. Applying qualitative research, the gambling regulator identified that one of the reasons for that 4% not filing a complaint was the public perception that “it is a tedious process” and as a rule of thumb the licensee “may be purposefully difficult to reach.”

The Commission underlined that its findings suggested that most of the incumbents’ policies it had reviewed meet all basic requirements stemming from their licenses, yet it identified areas for improvements so that the process becomes easier and more accessible to the public.

Tips on How to Improve Complaints Handling

Finally, the Gambling Commission published a list of tips for licensees on how to improve their handling of unhappy consumers.

The list includes tips such as the availability of complaints link on the home page, use of plain English without many legal terms, have a short and clear complaints process, be clear with what information is needed for the complaint investigation, inform about the 8-week time limit, and be straightforward when a decision is made even the complaint has reached a deadlock.

There were also tips related to the technical side of complaints handling, including the availability of working links, web forms and decision trees to help guide customers through the process, accessibility for vulnerable people, virtual paper trail, Resolver and other consumer support tools, and clear signposting to ADR providers.

Author: Ian Douglas