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How To File A Complaint Against A Betting Site

May 20, 2018 9:00 am Published by

Bookmaker ComplaintsGambling should, above all else, be fun. Yes the ultimate goal is to win some cash – that is the reward that is offered for placing a bet after all. But the whole process should be enjoyable for us, the punters.

In addition, the process should be fair and open – we should not be cheated out of our money, bookmakers should be operating fairly. To their credit they almost always do, however gambling is a service industry and that service can sometimes fall short of what we expect.

It’s good to know therefore what channels are in place for you to make complaints.

Now, you may or may not be aware but to operate providing gambling services in the UK, all bookmakers (high street, online only, UK or foreign based) must be issued a licence by the Gambling Commission.

The licence sets out a range of rules, regulations and codes of practice that bookies must adhere to or risk losing their licence to operate. One of these is that the bookie must offer dispute resolution by a third party or by a Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider if your complaint has not been satisfactorily dealt with by the Bookies own complaints procedure in the first instance.

The ADR’s decision is binding on matters that concern less than £10,000. If your complaint concerns a sum over £10,000 then it would be highly recommended that you seek legal advice from a professional such as a solicitor.

It’s good to know however that there is an alternative if the bookie’s in house complaints team don’t deal with your issue correctly.

A Bet As A Contract

Bet ContractA small chat now on the legal status of a bet as a contract. The main thing to know is that when you place a bet with a licensed gambling business, you are entering into a legally enforceable contract with the business.

This means the bookie must make available all the terms and conditions under which they accept the bet – including the circumstances, if any, under which the bet may change. It is however your responsibility to ensure that you read and understand all the T&C’s. If you ask to see them and they are not forthcoming then they are in the wrong. If they supply them and you don’t read them then you may not have much legal standing.

The contract you and the bookie enter into also must provide means for you to make a complaint about the bet.

What Constitutes Grounds For A Complaint?

There are a wide range of issues that may cause you to consider making a complaint. These could be:

  • Closing or placing limits on your account
  • Not abiding by promises made in promotions – for free bets in certain circumstances for example
  • Incorrect odds on payout
  • Not paying out at all.

This is not an exhaustive list, but this covers the majority of bookmaker complaints.

How To File Your Dispute

The first thing to know is that because the bet is a legal contract, this allows you, ultimately, to take the gambling company to court if the expected outcome of the bet does not match what would be considered the expected outcome under the Terms and conditions. You can also complain if you are not happy with service you have received.

This is similar to other business transactions. If you buy a TV from Argos but get it home to find it has been smashed to bits in the box, you can return it to Argos for a refund or replacement. These are the T & C’s and the consumer rights under which you completed the transaction to purchase the TV. If when you return it the customer service lady just laughs and slaps you in the face, then you can also complain about the service.

The same applies with complaints about betting – though hopefully you won’t get slapped in the face.

Follow these steps:

  1. Check T&Cs on the bet. You may not actually have grounds for complaint in the first place.
  2. Contact the Gambling Company. You can find details on their websites of complaints procedure and channels for contact. You can also look up registered head office addresses for all bookies on the Gambling Commission website.
  3. Tell the gambling company the nature of your complaint, providing evidence if possible. Keep records of any written communication – print out any e-mails for example. If you send original evidence – such as betting slips – takes copies first!
  4. The betting company will then investigate your complaint and when it is complete they will inform you of the outcome.
  5. If you are not happy with the outcome you have the legal right to request the intervention of an ADR at this stage. Alternate Dispute Resolution bodies are independent third parties brought in to resolve disputes. They are a free service and the gambling company must supply them if you request it. This is a requirement of their gambling licence and failure to comply could risk them losing their licence.
  6. The gambling company will contact the ADR on your behalf and they will be passed all information. You can also request their details so you can speak to them directly.

Recommended Alternative Dispute Resolution Bodies:

Name Sector Link
IBAS Online specialists (all types) www.ibas-uk.co.uk/
eCOGRA Online specialists (all types) www.ecogra.org/
Lindsays Lottery www.lindsays.co.uk
Tattersalls Committee Betting (Horse Racing) www.tattersallscommittee.co.uk/

A full list of ADR services can be found on the UK gambling commission website here: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/for-gambling-businesses/Compliance/General-compliance/ADR/Approved-ADR-providers.aspx

Is the decision binding?

The decision reached by the ADR is generally considered binding if the amount of money the complaint concerns is less than £10,000. This figure represents the maximum for disputes that would be settled by Small Claims Court – the ADR is seen as the alternative to Small Claims Court in this instance.

For claims over £10,000 the ADR is not considered binding.

Your consumer rights allow for you to continue your claim should you not feel satisfied. Your next step however will almost certainly be to take the gambling company to court – a potentially costly experience that should not be entered into lightly!

Take professional legal advice from a solicitor before moving to this stage, and also consider contacting the Gambling Commission, who may be able to offer additional advice.