UK Casino Companies Told Not to Gag Consumers with NDAs

UK online casino operators have been warned that forcing consumers to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) could lead to disciplinary action.

UKGC warns against NDAs
UKGC warns operators that gagging consumers with NDAs could lead to disciplinary action. (Image: iStock/Parade)

In a statement published January 31, UK gaming companies have been told that certain NDAs could breach their licensing conditions. After being alerted to several potential breaches, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) reminded operators that silencing customers is unacceptable.

Stop Silencing Customers

The crux of the matter is the use of NDAs in relation to settlement agreements. Although each operator is different, it’s common for customers to sign documents after settling a dispute amicably.

After an investigation, the UKGC has found that some UK casino operators are inserting NDA clauses into these agreements.

In certain contexts, NDAs are used to protect operators, suppliers and consumers. However, the UKGC is concerned that they’re also being used to prevent affected parties from reporting issues.

“Some of these agreements may have had the effect of preventing those consumers from reporting regulatory concerns to us, by either excluding disclosure to any third party or, in some cases, explicitly preventing customers from contacting the Gambling Commission,” reads the January 31 statement.

As the UKGC demonstrated in 2018, it’s not afraid to take action against operators that fail to meet regulatory standards. However, at this stage, no fines have been handed down.

The regulator has, however, reminded licensees that any attempt to discourage or actively stop consumers from reporting problems will lead to sanctions.

UK Casino Complaints Will be Heard

In reminding operators of their obligations, the UKGC is doubling down on a recent overhaul of its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) guidelines. Reviewing complaint procedures across its network of licensees, the regulator identified five areas for improvement.

Topping the list of shortcomings was the lack of guidance for consumers wishing to complain. Compounding the issue was evidence that operators are failing to accurately report problems and complaints.

With new ADR guidelines outlined in November 2018, the UKGC is now putting a much greater focus on transparency and customer satisfaction. By reminding UK casino companies that NDAs can hamper the dispute resolution process, consumers will now find they’re free to report complaints as they see fit.

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