The Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom (UKGC) implemented a new complaint system in early 2016. In April this year, they released a report on the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. On Monday the UKGC announced that disgruntled players will have a new front line point of contact for filing complaints against gambling operators.
From Tuesday, August 1, gambling consumers will have access to Resolver, an independent online complaint handling service that has been modified somewhat to address gamblers’ particular needs. Resolver, most notably used for utility and other complaints in the past, remains completely independent of the Gambling Commission. The service does not act as an intermediary or player advocate – it simply helps consumers deliver their complaints in a more structured way.
According to take aways from an April 26 report on Casinomeister, the current ADR system may be lacking certain elements the UKGC believes need to be addressed in order to facilitate resolutions. The report surmises that less than half of the current ADRs accredited by the UKGC are of any real value to the system. This, mainly due to the volume of complaints they service. It could also be inferred that the commission does not want to or have the resources to deal with complaints about the ADR system itself. Fewer, more efficient resolution services could serve the industry properly.
Enter, Resolver. According to a July 24 announcement by the UKGC: “Resolver [also] helps the consumer to store all the complaint information in one place and acts as an email service. This means the consumer’s complaint will be sent from a Resolver email address, rather than the customer’s usual email address. We expect operators to accept complaints customers send via a Resolver email address just as they would from other email services.”
Resolver was founded in 2012. The service is free to use, does not display advertising, and does not share consumers’ personal data. The company is self-supporting through fees charged to their corporate and government customers who are able to access anonymised data.
Although personal data is protected, other elements can be masked and the data used to identify key customer issues. This could help the UKGC focus on education and enforcement efforts. The company also has the ability to render data to the commission about what sort of complaints are most easily resolved, and which ones may need more attention to prevent in the future.
In November 2016, Tech Crunch reported on Resolver using machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict successful outcomes, and even modify email templates with phrasing and terms most likely to generate a successful resolution. The report indicates that Resolver has its sights set on international markets such as Germany and the U.S. and to license its technology for deployment in smaller markets such as South Africa.
What the Resolver service means to UK gambling consumers beginning Tuesday is that they will have a more structured way to complain. The system will also guide them through the initial complaint process by suggesting certain paths based on information the consumer provides at the time. Gambling operators will only see a Resolver email address rather than an address that may identify the customer.
What the implementation means for existing alternative dispute resolution providers is not as clear. The March 2017 report from the UKGC stated: “We will continue to monitor and in the future, if we conclude there has been no improvement, we may consider requiring all operators to use a single ADR provider of our choice.”
The current reality of online gambling is that very few of the world’s gambling providers answer to the UKGC and very few consumers have access to ADRs. Outside of the UKGC and online casinos regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, players have no real protections. This is because other licensing bodies have historically proven to be toothless in advocating for consumers.
The majority of online gamblers are forced to settle disputes on their own or use a free service provided by online casino affiliates such as Casinomeister, Ask Gamblers, The Pogg, or Latest Casino Bonuses (LCB). Each service works in its own particular way from Casinomeisters completely behind closed doors “Pitch a Bitch” process to Ask Gamblers’ public ‘conversations’ between players and casinos.
Unique among them is LCB, who gives players direct access to over 360 casino representatives on their Forum. Nearly 100,000 members are free to rate casinos online. Disputes are handled in public for all the world to see. The most active casino representatives also make themselves available to solve minor problems normally handled by customer service representatives. LCB Forum moderators intervene when needed and casinos are subject to public shaming and even blacklisting if they do not operate in the spirit of fair play.
Editor’s Note: World Casino News is a service of the World Casino Directory which is wholly owned by LCB.