Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service IBAS today welcomed the Gambling Commission’s publication of updated guidance on fair terms and practices (published Wed 16 February).
Managing Director Richard Hayler said:
“Although on most occasions, most gambling operators recognise the need for ADR to give consumers the opportunity to challenge what they consider to be unfair practice, there are times when some businesses argue that we have overstepped the mark or misunderstood the minimum standards required of them.
“This guidance – which we hope will not be the last publication of its kind – touches on a number of the areas in which IBAS has encountered industry resistance or objection to its decision making. Clear guidance from the Gambling Commission about acceptable and unacceptable practice is helpful for everyone including consumers, operators and our own adjudication panel. We have found that in areas where updated regulatory guidance is clearest, the number of disputes and complaints reduces significantly because there is less ambiguity and less room for debate about what is fair or unfair.
“We have also seen from other sectors that closer working relationships between regulator and ADR providers or ombudsmen allow for matters of widespread consumer concern to be addressed more effectively. New regulatory guidance for the gambling sector, such as this, developed out of the experience of consumer complaints fed back to the regulator by an ADR provider is a positive sign of things to come. Regrettably, IBAS has experienced situations where companies which believed we had acted beyond our remit have terminated registrations with and moved to another ADR supplier. Such a situation makes a stronger case for their being a single ADR supplier or Ombudsman, backed up by clear and unambiguous regulation. We believe that IBAS is well placed to act in this respect.
“We recognise that many of these subject areas are complex. For example, giving instructions on appropriate handling and returning of funds where the company suspects the account holder to be using a false identity may need a more complex set of guidance to cover a variety of different scenarios we have encountered. We share the Commission’s view that terms setting out the consequences of different actions by customers should be clear and transparent so that the consequences of such actions – for consumer and operator – are understood by everyone.”