Sharpen up: Online casinos told to improve player complaints handling

  • Recent findings suggest that customers are dissatisfied with the complaints process
  • Even specialist resolution providers seem to be failing to satisfy customers

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), responsible for licensing and regulating all UK betting and casino activities, has published new findings that suggest customer complaints are not being dealt with well enough.

UK Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison has said operators need to up their game on complaints handling
UK Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison has said operators need to up their game on complaints handling

Customers have reported finding the complaints system in the industry ‘difficult to access, time consuming to use, and they question whether it is independent and transparent.’

Complaints against online and traditional casinos are typically dealt with in-house, or through a third-party adjudicator, also called an ADR (alternative dispute resolution) provider. Well-known examples in the online casino world are IBAS and eCOGRA.

These services exist to ensure that complaints are handled without bias, yet even so, the Gambling Commission believes that not enough is being done.

Industry should value feedback

“Our findings present a strong case for the gambling industry to take swift action to ensure the way in which customer disputes are dealt with is fit for purpose, and importantly, places consumers first. “What we want to see is an industry that values and seeks out feedback from customers. That swiftly and effectively resolves customer complaints. And that uses the learning from those customers to raise its standards and deliver ever higher levels of customer service.”
Sarah Harrison, chief executive, UK Gambling Commission

Any casino users will know that complaints are commonplace, with review sites often having reams of angry comments. Of course, this is part and parcel of losing money and not all of these are substantive, but the industry is still being urged to listen closely. ADR/ODR services in particular should be ensuring that customers feel that they are treated fairly.

Taking heed for the future

These findings will be vital in deciding what the UKGC focuses on, as it develops proposals across 2017. The public are also invited to continue to share their experiences.

The chief executive added: “Over the coming months, we will be working closely with gambling operators, ADR providers, trade associations, consumers and their representatives. We will also be looking at complaints processes in other sectors where redress arrangements may be working better. But most importantly, we are also welcoming views on the proposals from consumers directly.”

OUR VERDICT

Online casinos and other betting operators in the UK are suffering something of an image problem with players at the moment. The current news that there is falling trust among players, as well as the media and political storm over fixed odds betting terminals, is adding to this mix.

But online casinos clearly do want to offer a good customer experience – after all, their profitability depends on it. Some would argue that they already do, and the industry is growing, but there should be no room for complacency.

Not all player complaints will be legitimate or reasonable, but for those that are, good online casinos at the very least should offer a swift, efficient and fair way of resolving them, or face more headlines like this.

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