Gambling Commission publishes advice for operators on improving complaints handling

England and Wales

Following a review of 34 operators’ complaints policies, the Gambling Commission (the “Commission”) has published advice and good practice for operators on complaints handling. The Commission’s cross sectoral review focused on ease of use and accessibility and was referenced in their 2021-2022 business plan. It is also designed to complement the Government’s ongoing Gambling Act review, which is also looking at methods of improving consumer redress arrangements.

Complaints in general

Research on consumer complaints by the Commission has found that 8% of gamblers have made a complaint, with a further 4% wishing to complain but not doing so. Reasons for this latter statistic could, according to the same research, be due to it being purposefully difficult to reach the operator or a perception that complaining would be a tedious process. In publishing this advice, the Commission says it is seeking to help make the complaints process more open and reduce friction for consumers.

Tips for operators

Alongside highlighting operators responsibilities under social responsibility code 6 of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice and their pre-existing Complaints and disputes guidance, the Commission suggests that operators:

  • Ensure their complaints process is clear and short;

  • Include clickable links (checking they function), including a link to the complaints procedure on their homepage;

  • Avoid legalese or jargon, instead using plain English;

  • Give clear signposting to ADR providers;

  • Clearly articulate a final decision, or if ‘deadlock’ has been reached;

  • Ensure a virtual paper trial is kept;

  • Tell consumers what information is required as part of an investigation into their complaint;

  • Ensure that their complaints procedure is accessible for all, with adjustments made where required;

  • Include detail on the 8-week time limit for either resolving the complaint or issuing a final response;

  • Use technology such as webforms and/or decision trees to assist consumers through the complaints process, while always ensuring alternative contact methods are available; and

  • Use consumer support tools such as Resolver (or others).

Next steps

Operators should ensure that they review the Commissions advice (and other previously published complaints information) in detail and consider if their complaints process follows all applicable guidance, or if any changes are required.