Consumers Get a Better Deal As UKGC Implements New Complaint Procedures

The UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) new dispute resolution guidelines came into effect on October 31 as part of the regulator’s ongoing effort to improve customer service standards.

Ian Angus UKGC complaint guidelines

Operators told to improve complaint handling procedures as new UKGC guidelines come into effect. (Image: UKGC/YouTube)

Announced in mid-October but coming into force at the end of the month, the standards outline how alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services should operate going forward.

Initially set-up by the regulator in 2015, ADR is designed to offer an independent complaint handling service in instances where traditional methods have failed.

After reviewing the state of play in 2017, the UKGC identified five areas where operators were failing consumers. As well as making it difficult to find information about ADR services and how to complain, licensees were failing to accurately report problems.

UKGC Finds Multiple Failings

Commenting on the need for change, UKGC Program Director for Consumer Protection and Empowerment Ian Angus said multiple failings have hurt the industry’s image.

“We know that public trust in gambling is on the decline. There were quite serious compliance failings with consumer law and UK advertising codes and more general concerns about the protection of children, young people and vulnerable people,” Angus said in an October 22 UKGC video.

In tandem with the UKGC’s findings, political unrest regarding fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) has left a mark on UK gaming in 2018.

However, under the new standards, customers can expect their complaints to be handled more efficiently and effectively. As outlined in the guidelines, operators offering ADR will have to increase their capacity for handling complaints as well as be more transparent throughout the process.

Pressure Mounting on Operators

The ADR changes come at a time when UK operators are taking stock of the Philip Hammond’s recent budget announcement. Looking to offset a reduction in FOBT revenue due to betting limit changes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has increased remote gaming duty.

Upping the levy to 21 percent, Hammond is aiming to generate an additional £250 million in tax revenue and make the new £2 FOBT betting limit cost neutral to the economy. However, despite stricter standards in various areas, the UK remains one of the most profitable gaming markets in the world.

With the latest UKGC statistics showing the industry is worth £14 billion annually, the benefits of staying active in the UK outweigh the costs of compliance. This means the leading brands should more willing to invest in improving their services which, in turn, will mean a better experience for consumers heading into 2019.

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