UKGC Provides Tips for Licensees to Improve Complaint Handling

On Thursday the 21st of July, the UK Gambling Commission published a list of tips to and guide licensees on handling complaints, which also reminds them of the existing rules. The updated advice follows as guidance on how to effectively handle complaints is part of UKGC’s ongoing review of operating standards.

The commission found an update necessary after reviewing the handling of 34 licensee’s complaints process procedures from various sectors. The goal was to take a look at how easy and accessible the policies were to use and at the same time to explore improvements in the complaints process on how licensees deal with complaints from consumers.

The review was first referenced in the UKGC 2021/22 business plan and complements the Government’s evaluation of the gambling industry and The Gambling Act on how to refine consumer redress arrangements. The publication of data, Understanding Consumer Complaints, highlighted the percentage of gamblers that had ever made a complaint is 8%. It was also reported that a further 4% wanted to complain but never did. The UKGC qualitative research explored the possible reasons, which included the perception of consumers that it was a tedious process, one made purposefully difficult by licensees.

While it was found that most policies did meet the basic requirements imposed on gambling licenses during the commission’s review pointed towards areas where licensees could improve their handling of the complaints process. These will make the complaints procedure easier and more consumer accessible.

Licensee’s Complaints Process – Good Practice Tips

  • Licensees need to add a link on their homepage to their complaints procedure

    The UK Gambling Commission found that it was difficult to find the complaints procedure on some of the licensee’s websites, which was sometimes hidden within lengthy T&C sections. A good practice is to provide a direct link to the complaints policies and procedures from the website homepage.

  • Avoid legalese or jargon by using plain English

    Research by the legal sector regarding the complaints process found that players believe complicated legalized terms were used to intimidate them. At the same time ,it leads to perceiving the complaints procedure as confusing and strenuous.

  • The UKGC reminds that the levels of literacy significantly vary across players reading the policy, especially in cases where English is not the first language of all customers. The commission also reminds licensees that there are numerous tools freely available to assess reading levels.
  • Provide a clear and short complaints process

    Good complaints practices include a three-stage process for customer complaints:

    1. Launch of the initial complaints
    2. Complaints escalation that often involves the senior team within the organisation
    3. Escalation to an approved and independent ADR provider
  • Inform people of the information needed to investigate complaints

    Good practice in complaints handling is vital and starts by explaining to players how to communicate and provide the information needed in process their complaints This is of great importance in how licensees deal with consumers, getting all the information also helps when a complaint escalates to an approved ADR provider. Examples of important information includes key dates, details regarding the complaint, and account information, and how the consumer or player would like the licensee to resolve the complaint.

  • Provide details regarding the 8-week complaints resolving time limit or issuing o final response

    During the review of the complaints policies, the Commission showed understanding of the fact that licensees wish to make resolving complaints a short process with most aiming to respond within 24 hours or up to 5 working days. However, the UKGC reminds of Social Responsibility code provision requiring an overall timeframe in dealing with complaints of 8 weeks. Therefore. licensees need to include it in their complaints procedure to provide players with a definite end point

  • Ensure clear response in giving your a final decision or once a ‘deadlock’ is reached

    It was noted that some licensees refer to a deadlock, which indicates that the consumer reached the end or final stage of the complaints process while a resolution is not reached and that the complaint can be escalated to an approved ADR. It is also an area raised by the IBAS, ADR provider that could require more clarity, although letters and emails are effective, more could and should be done to explain the escalation process to players.

  • Offer clickable links and ensure the links work

    The commission saw links added by licensees to complain procedures, contact methods, and ADR providers although either the links were not added or did not work.

  • Utilize technology to help guide players during the compliant process such as web forms and decision-trees, and always have alternative contact methods available

    Many licensees accept complaints via live chat while others use decision tree technology to filter through the FAQ help-guide to relevant information. The commission reminds licensees that it still important to offer alternative contact options suited to all.

  • Licensees also need to be accessible to all, including vulnerable players and need to make adjustments where necessary or required

    The UKGC reminds licensees that people may need adjustments within reasons and may want access to the range of methods available in how to communicate complaints.

  • Always make sure the keep a paper-trail

    The SR code provision requires licensees to keep records or a virtual paper trail of complaints via live chat.

  • Utilize Resolver or other support consumer tools

    Although the UKGC does not endorse or require licensees to sign up with Revolver, it could be helpful to consumers making a complaint and vital to people during the complaints procedure.

  • Supply a clear signposting to ADR providers

    The UKGC guidance on complaints and disputes state that licensees must provide consumers with information such as the ADR provider’s contact details, and any limitations.

The Commission’s Director of Policy, Ian Angus shared that good complaints handling in the gambling industry are vital. Consumers should be able to understand and find policies easily and raise complaints without barriers. Around 200,000 complaints are received every year, and while the Government review of the Gambling Act will consider where the complaints handling can be escalated, the bulk will still go through the complaints process of the licensee first. The newly announced complaints handling improvement guidelines and tips are in aid of helping licensees to handle complaints well and improve the outcomes for both themselves and consumers.

Learn More About UK Gambling Laws & Licensing