How To Settle a Dispute with a UK licensed Casino?
How To Settle a Dispute with a UK licensed Casino?
Reputable UK online casinos do their best to do right by their players. Their websites not only feature cutting-edge security, but also, professional customer service departments. Most online casinos strive to protect their customers, and provide answers to resolve problems as they arise.
However, technical issues and disputes do occasionally arise. These can range from misunderstanding the terms and conditions, confusion about a game, to a failed money withdrawal.
That's why it's important to address the situation right away. Properly handling these situations can help you to effectively deal with customer service. First of all, have all the necessary information available before contacting customer service. This includes screenshots, error messages, and the events leading up to the issue. Simply contacting them in anger can defeat your purpose.
But, the best thing to do is to try avoiding disputes in the first place. If you know the rules, and know how to play, disputes can easily be avoided. With that in mind, we'll cover avoiding a dispute, before we get into settling a dispute.
Avoiding Disputes with Online Casinos in the UK
First of all, do your research, and only sign up and begin playing with a reputable, UK-licensed online casino.
Second, look at reviews written by real customers of each casino, before making any commitment. See if the casino has a user forum, and read what people are saying. Are there a lot of posts complaining about website glitches, failed withdrawals, or poor customer service? Of course, there are people who complain all the time. However, if you see the same complaints over and over, that's a red flag.
Third, thoroughly read and understand the terms and conditions; while we often just click “agree” on websites to sign up, casino terms and conditions require more attention. Your money is at stake, so read the fine print. If you don't like what you see, don't sign up.
Terms and Conditions Unique to Online Casinos
While website terms and conditions are quite similar, online casinos have a few things unique to the industry. Specifically, the ones that might cause you a problem relate to bonus cash and free spins.
Naturally, you'll be drawn to the casinos with very generous bonus offers and lots of free spins; but there is often a catch.
Most of the time, the more generous the sign-up offer, the more restrictive the terms and conditions will be. For example, the amount you may have to play before you can claim your bonus cash can be quite high. Also, there are often time limits in which to play; so, if you're a casual player who doesn't play often, you could lose out.
Be aware of withdrawal restricted bonuses; a withdrawal restricted bonus may prohibit a player from withdrawing the restricted amount or using it to play other games. Also, players might be restricted to only cashing out a certain number of free spins. To put it simply, casinos structure their bonus offers to benefit themselves, not the players.
However, that's not to say that online casinos are dishonest. Some terms and conditions are necessary to protect the casino from abusive users. But it's important to understand the terms and conditions before signing up and making your first deposit. If you don't understand something, ask customer support to clarify.
The fact is, most disputes center around refused withdrawals, due to unfulfilled and misunderstood bonus requirements. Remember the old adage, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't sign up. It simply means, doesn't count on the sign-up bonus or free spins to make you rich. The bonuses are more to get a new user acquainted with the platform and the games.
Tips for avoiding UK casino disputes
As long as you only register with licensed casinos, you're less likely to encounter an issue resulting in a dispute. Of course, things can still go wrong. Make sure any casino you choose meets certain standards.
Below are some general guidelines indicating whether an online casino is safe.
- Licensed by at least one regulatory agency such as the UKGC, AGCC, or MGA.
- Clear and understandable terms and conditions.
- Games from reputable providers such as PlayTech, NetEnt, Microgaming, Evolution Gaming, or Play’n Go.
- Mandatory identity verification. A reputable casino might request a copy of your passport, driving license, a bank statement, or a utility bill.
- Verified UK casinos usually only permit one account per person or household.
- Responsible gambling features, such as self-exclusion and time-out options, and deposit limits.
- Professional customer support; before signing up, ask a few questions through email or on the live chat to test for response time and knowledge.
If you are not allowed to make a deposit or access your account or make a deposit before sending your identity details, the casino has a robust “Know Your Customer” policy. While that can be frustrating, it also ensures a safe and controlled online environment.
Common Issues That Sometimes Result in a Dispute
There are several issues that a casino's customer service routinely tries to resolve.
First, we must mention the kind of matters that may lead to disputes:
Deposits – missing funds, double charges, unspecified fees;
Withdrawals – long processing time, stopped/delayed cashouts, declined refunds, unexpected charges;
Promotions – unrewarded/lost bonuses, violated bonus terms;
Software – glitches, the impossibility of resuming an interrupted gaming session (resulting in loss of bet amounts);
Account – misleading terms and conditions, registration difficulties, denied KYC documents, inappropriate customer treatment.
Be aware: Casinos that refuse to process withdrawals or fail to pay out within an adequate time frame are considered ‘rogue’ and should be avoided by all means.
How to effectively deal with a UK casino dispute
If something negative happens with any of the services offered by an online casino, a dispute can be opened. This could be in regards to a deposit, withdrawal, a game, or a website glitch.
Typically, there are three stages of managing a dispute. However, this depends on the severity of the issue and the way in which the casino's customer service handles it. Keep in mind, only in rare cases is the last stage reached. This last stage should only be considered when all other options fail.
Contact customer support
When you encounter a problem with a promotion, your account, transactions, or any other problem, first contact customer support.
Live chat is usually best for common questions; for more serious issues, file a formal complaint. You can do this by email, or sometimes, there might be an online form. Include as much information as you can, along with a screenshot, if you think you need visual proof.
Typically, customer service will try to resolve the issue within a certain timeframe. If you disagree with their solution, you can escalate your complaint. That will bring the problem to a manager, who will review it and try to offer a better solution. Keep in mind, a supervisor's decision is usually the end of the company's complaint procedure.
Also, be as clear as possible about what happened. Be sure to remain calm, and answer any questions from customer support to the best of your ability. Anger is self-defeating; you won’t be able to communicate effectively. Also, the customer service representatives won't want to help you if you're nasty and rude.
Remember, that there are a lot of technical things happening behind the scenes; support may need to run through some diagnostics to pinpoint the issue.
In most cases, simply contacting customer support will lead to a positive resolution. It may take some time, but most casinos work hard to satisfy their customers.
Be sure to keep a written record of all communication between you and customer service. Save the emails, and download any chat transcripts. If you can't resolve the problem with customer service, you'll need this information to proceed to the next steps.
Contacting an independent party for dispute resolution
If you're unhappy with the casino's final decision, the next step is contacting an independent party to look into the issue.
First, find the regulatory authority that licensed the casino, such as the UK Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority. Send the regulatory authority a copy of your complaint. However, let the authority know that, for now, you're just sending the information to demonstrate an ongoing dispute.
You should be able to find the regulator on the casino’s website. Usually, the licensing information appears at the bottom of the front page. This is where you can find the regulatory authority’s information to contact them.
When contacting a mediation agency, you'll need to send them copies of your original complaint, along with the customer service responses from your online casino. Include copies of any emails, chat transcripts, screenshots, and whatever else might be relevant.
Do not hide or alter any of the information; that will only make you look dishonest, and that will certainly count against you. Keep in mind, the mediator will also receive information from the casino. If you’ve tried to alter things in your favor, there’s a good chance that your case will be dropped.
Fortunately, all casinos registered and licensed in the UK must comply with UKGC regulations; this includes providing users with at least one alternative resolution provider, such as CEDR, ADRg, eCOGRA, or IPCA.
It can take up to 90 days for an independent party to review the issue and offer a solution. It can take that long, because the mediators must contact the casino on your behalf. However, depending on the issue, it can take longer. At this point, you'll probably need to accept the decision of the mediation agency.
Taking your complaint to the regulatory authority
If mediation doesn't give you a positive outcome, you can complain directly to the regulatory authority that issued the casino’s license. The regulator may ask you for more information; explain the original problem, let them know you went through independent mediation, and why you disagree with the mediator's decision.
Any decision made by the regulator will almost certainly be final. If they decide against the casino, it will have to resolve the issue, or risk revocation of their license. If the regulatory authority rules against you, may have to take the matter to court.
As a last resort, you can take your dispute to court
When all other options fail to satisfy you, you can sue the casino by taking them to court. However, make sure to document everything, and know your legal rights before hiring a solicitor. Also, make sure the issue is worth pursuing. This can be a very complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process.
Generally, disputes between players and casinos fall under the 2015 UK Consumer Rights Act. According to the law, as soon as someone completes a financial transaction, they have initiated a contract with the company. Because of this, your claim falls under the UK Consumer Law Act.
Before taking the casino to court, try reaching out to Citizens Advice first. They may be able to give you an opinion on the relevance of your case, and your chance of winning. Citizens Advice comprises more than 300 charities across the country, dedicated to offering free advice.
Once again, make sure your complaint warrants the cost of a legal suit. Taking a casino to court over an unpaid £500 withdrawal won't be worth it, if it would cost you £5,000. Keep in mind, the casino likely has much more money, and much better lawyers than you do. It may be cheaper, and less nerve-racking, to drop the matter, and simply go to another casino.
Is there a difference between a complaint and a dispute?
While both are similar, they are not the same. A complaint is when a player voices their disappointment or disagreement with the online casino’s policies or services. Usually, a complaint is formally submitted with an email or a complaint form. It's then presented to someone within the customer service department for an appropriate resolution.
On the other hand, disputes result from more complicated problems, and may necessitate third-party intervention. Commonly, this happens when the casino and the player cannot agree on the best solution to the issue. When this happens, an independent organization must act as a mediator.
UKGC approved alternate dispute resolution providers
Licensed gambling operators are required to use at least one alternate dispute resolution provider (ADR) on UKGC approved list Moreover both gambling operators and ADR providers must fully comply with all regulations.
In October, 2018, additional standards were issued for alternate dispute resolution providers in the gambling industry. These include additional standards for:
- the types of decisions an alternate dispute resolution provider can consider
- independence and transparency
- customer service
- consistency and quality
- sharing data and information
Also, the UKGC now requires licensed gambling operators to only use alternate dispute resolution providers who meet the latest standards and regulations.
If you are not satisfied with the services of an ADR provider, first, issue your complaint to the provider. There should be information about filing a complaint available on the provider’s website.
You can also file a complaint to the UKGC. The UKGC will use your complaint to ensure that the ADR provider is following the guidelines. However, the UKGC will not update you on the result of any investigation. You can learn more information about the standards ADR providers are expected to follow.
The outcome of the dispute is binding on both the player and the casino if the player agrees with the outcome for a dispute of not more than £10,000, which could have been taken to small claims court. However, the ADR process is not binding for disputes of more than £10,000.
According to the UKGC standards, an ADR will acknowledge within 3 working days, the receipt of the player’s initial contact.
All of the ADR providers listed below meet the standards and the requirements.
Among the oldest dispute resolution providers in the country, ADRg bases its approach on having cutting-edge virtual mediation technology, and highly trained staff. The ADRg team can handle the most complex mediation cases. While the service is generally free, there might be some costs associated with procuring the necessary claim documents.
The address for in-person visits is at the International Dispute Resolution Centre, 70 Fleet Street, in London.
Bacta ADR Service
This mediation provider can handle a wide range of gambling issues. Go to their website, at bactaadrservice.org.uk, to see if your casino operator is registered for their service. Usually, claims can be submitted online, making this a very convenient service. If you think Bacta is right for you, the next step is to email, email@example.com, or give them a call at 020 7730 6444. Mail correspondence can be sent to Bacta ADR Service,29-30 Ely Place. London, EC1N 6TD
Centre for Effective Dispute Resolutions
Founded more than 30 years ago, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution is among the most respected conflict resolution groups in the UK. Over the decades, CEDR has amassed immense international knowledge and experience in more than 50 jurisdictions. CEDR specializes in not only mediation, but also alternative dispute resolution. However, unlike other approved ADR providers, CEDR doesn’t primarily focus on gambling. Rather, its main focus is on general commercial disputes.
You can explore your options at www.cedr.com. You can email at, firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 7536 6000. To send written correspondence or for an in-person visit, their location is at IDRC, 70 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1EU, UK.
eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA)
This internationally approved agency strives for fair gambling, player protection, and responsible behavior by both gambling operators and software providers. You can go to their website at www.ecogra.org for detailed guidance on how to proceed with your dispute. Once you fill out the form, it can take two weeks to be accepted or rejected.
You can email eCOGRA at email@example.com, or telephone them at +44 20 7887 1480. The address for in-person visits is 2/F Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London.
Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS)
Endorsed by the Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, IBAS provides impartial adjudication services to settle disputes between casino operators and players. Founded in 2007, IBAS filled a void, providing professional mediation assistance to the gambling industry.
Visit the IBAS website for more information. www.ibas-uk.com. You can email IBAS at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give them a call at +44 (0)20 7347 5883. Written correspondence can be sent to PO Box 62639, London, EC3P 3AS.
Founded in 1815 by cousins John Lindsay and Frederick Fothringham in Edinburgh, Lindsay's is a venerable legal advice institution. With a staff numbering in the hundreds, dedicated teams serve several sectors, including gambling.
While Lindsay's is more than 200 years old, they have a thoroughly modern website, www.lindsays.co.uk. They're also still located in Edinburgh, at Caledonian Exchange, 19a Canning Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8HE. Email Lindsay's at email@example.com, or phone: +44 (0)131 229. 1212
This agency is not only certified by the UKGC to mediate gambling-related disputes, but it's also well-versed in all forms of mediation. Just go to their website, www.promediate.co.uk for more information, including case studies on their previous claims.
Email inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give them a call at +44 (0)7824 704826.
Mail and in-person visits, Brow Farm, Top Road Frodsham, Cheshire, WA6 6SP
Ellis Jones, Solicitors
As a leading independent law firm, Ellis Jones operates offices in cities across the South of England. The solicitors have experience dealing with gambling legalities, as well as disputes and claims. In 2019, the firm was awarded the honor of the Dispute Resolution Team of the Year.
In the end, avoiding a dispute is the best way to go, when playing at an online casino. Understanding the rules, and politely contacting customer service, should help you to avoid problems.
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