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Gambling Regulation

Could a Gambling Ombudsman Help to Raise Standards?

The Betting and Gaming Council are calling on the UK government to appoint a gambling ombudsman. The BGC’s request aims to further raise standards within the betting industry and give customers an official and unbiased point of contact for any concerns that they might have.

At the same time that the UK government is undertaking a review of the 2005 Gambling Act, Britain’s leading standards body, the Betting and Gaming Council, is requesting that a gambling ombudsman is established.

Government ministers are due to issue a White Paper at the end of 2021, and the BGC now hopes that it will include the new role.

Why do we need a gambling ombudsman?

While there are already systems in place to deal with customer complaints (such as the operators’ own internal complaints processes), the Betting and Gaming Council thinks that a gambling ombudsman would assist customers and deliver a more consistent experience.

If the government agrees to the request, all betting and gambling operators who are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission would be legally obligated to sign up with the new ombudsman.

The chief executive of the BGC, Michael Dugher says he hopes that “the government will look favourably” on its proposal and that he wishes to see the gambling ombudsman role “established as soon as possible following the conclusion of the UK Gambling Review.

What would the role of the Gambling Ombudsman entail?

According to the chief executive of Flutter, a Gambling Ombudsman would help to increase “robust safer gambling practices”.

Like other ombudsmen, the postholder would be tasked with investigating consumer complaints about relevant companies. Their services would be free-to-use and their decisions would be independent and impartial.

Who currently deals with customer complaints?

Aside from the gambling brands themselves, the main route for customer complaints is via the Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), which is an Alternative Dispute Resolution service that is approved by the UK Gambling Commission.

If the complaint relates to print, media, or digital advertising, consumers can contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who will investigate whether the complaint should be upheld.

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