On Monday, October 1, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) issued a new set of rules and standards for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) providers as part of its renewed and ongoing commitment to ensuring that the licensees treat consumers fairly. Set to take effect as from October 31, the new rules will govern how the third-parties are supposed to handle disputes between consumers and gambling operators – they will be joining the changes that the gambling commission made to the industry-regulating licenses conditions and codes of practice (LLCP) back in August this year.
While the adjustments or rather enhancements that have been made to the alternative dispute resolution are largely meant for the operators, the commission has advised consumers to have a look at some of the things stipulated in the just-announced changes so that they can better understand their rights and responsibilities in case a dispute arises.
Among the enhancements that the ADR’s existing rules have received is the requirement that all gambling service providers to ensure that their customers are aware that they have a right to request for the “arguments, evidence, documents and facts put forward by the other party” for any given operator-consumer dispute.
Some of the Details
As far as the ADR provider giving compensation (not just reimbursement) goes, gaming service providers are also required to recognize the “emotional or practical impact on the consumer, rather than punishing the business.” The gaming commission clarified that the determination can include whether the disputed resulted in “stress or physical or mental suffering” for the consumer. Furthermore, the provider will also be required to consider “inconvenience” in terms of either effort or time due to a dispute, as well as whether or not the dispute caused “damage to a consumer’s reputation.”
To elaborate on why it is very important for the consumers to go over the new set of standards, the UK Gambling Commission cautioned that in most cases the consumers will not be compensated – however, the consumer could be warranted if the actions of the business have a “considerable effect” on the consumer. The amounts that the consumers will receive as compensation will also vary depending on all of the circumstances of the case.
Also, in compliance with the six principles of good governance that have been outlined by the UK Ombudsman Association, the gambling commission expects of the of the third-party dispute handlers to “be transparent about and make public information on how it is funded, and how it is independent.”
For the past three years, the UK Gambling Commission has been tasked with approving a number of third-party dispute handlers in an effort to ensure that gambling consumers have somewhere to raise their complaints in cases where disputed with gambling operators prove to be unsolvable. At the beginning of the year, the UKGC even notified the operators it has licenses that they would have a maximum of eight weeks to resolve disputes after which an ADR provider would have to be involved.