How to Escalate a Complaint with Online Casino Customer Support
Playing at an online casino should be a fun experience, with help from a customer service team if you have any problems. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? Or if you think you’ve been scammed by a casino?
When there’s a problem with an online casino and you can’t seem to resolve the issue with the casino’s customer support team, you’ll need to pursue a complaint. There are several potential avenues to explore, but it’s important to go through the correct process step by step.
This guide will explain how to make a complaint about an online casino and who you can contact to escalate the matter if you don’t get a satisfactory response.
Playing at Online Casinos: Your Rights
Casinos registered in the UK must be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. This means that casinos have to abide by the terms of their licence and follow a strict code of conduct.
This is good news for players because if casinos breach the terms of their licence, there is a means of pursuing a complaint further.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is one of the strictest gambling regulatory bodies in the world and lays down very stringent rules that it expects casinos to follow. If they don’t follow the conditions of their licence and the code of conduct, players can pursue a complaint.
The UKGC rules are extensive, but some of the most important rights it provides to players include the following:
- You should be able to withdraw your money easily
- You should not be allowed to make a deposit which is lower than the minimum withdrawal amount
- You should not be asked to play casino games multiple times before being allowed to withdraw your own money
- You should be allowed to withdraw your money if you change your mind about a bonus
- You should be protected by casinos if you are a vulnerable individual
- You should be able to understand the terms of betting and promotions easily
- You should be provided with an explanation about how to play every online casino game
- You should be allowed to set limits on how much you want to bet
- You should receive reminders from the casino if you have been playing for a long time
- You should not be receiving marketing material if you have self-excluded
What Are Online Casino’s Obligations?
Casinos that are regulated by the UKGC are required to make their complaints procedure readily available to customers. This includes any brick-and-mortar premises, as well as online.
The documentation they provide must be in plain English and provide all the information necessary to make a complaint. This includes how to escalate a complaint internally and refer a complaint for Alternative Dispute Resolution (discussed in more detail further down).
All licensed online UK casinos are obliged to provide you with all of the rights described above. Crucially, this means they cannot put barriers in the way of players withdrawing winnings or their own money.
Charges, costs, and limits must all be set out clearly, and they must be reasonable. Even if a casino has explained what restrictions apply, you may still have a valid complaint if they aren’t proportionate and fair.
The UKGC is particularly concerned about casinos being socially responsible. This means checking that players haven’t self-excluded and blocking those that have from playing. Casinos must have a range of measures in place to identify and prevent excessive gambling and to protect individuals who are vulnerable. If a casino doesn’t meet its obligations for socially responsible gambling, you may be able to complain about the amount they allow you to bet.
In short, a casino’s obligations go way beyond just being clear and explaining its terms in an accessible way – although these factors are important too. The UKGC expects players to be treated fairly and always offered playing conditions which are reasonable.
If you don’t think a casino has acted in a reasonable way, even if it’s in line with the terms and conditions, you can raise a complaint. It will cost you nothing for the matter to be reviewed, and it could prevent you from being treated unfairly.
How to Initiate a Complaint
No matter how serious the complaint is, you’ll need to follow the casino’s own complaints process first. This means that you shouldn’t jump straight to making a complaint to the regulator without giving the casino the opportunity to resolve the issue. If you try to escalate the matter too quickly, you will be asked to refer the matter to the casino first.
The casino complaints procedure should explain how players can make a complaint. This usually includes providing an email address where you can make a formal complaint. Some casinos have dedicated email addresses which are solely for use by complainants. This can help to get your complaint dealt with more quickly, so it should be viewed as a positive.
Formal complaints need to be dealt with in detail, which means that live chat and telephone calls aren’t usually suitable.
Don’t hold any information back when you complain to the casino. If you later choose to escalate the complaint, you could delay matters if the casino has not had a chance to review and respond to every aspect.
Unless your complaint is clear and simple, you may not get an immediate response. However, the casino should let you know that they have your complaint and that they’re dealing with it. Their complaints procedure should tell you exactly what you can expect.
If the casino has not provided you with a full response to your complaint within eight weeks, or you’re unhappy with the outcome, you can escalate the matter. The casino should tell you what the next steps are if you’re not happy with their decision. This might include referring it to a more senior person at the company. You should always exhaust the casino’s complaint procedure before attempting to escalate it externally. The only exception is if you don’t get a response from the casino within the eight-week timeframe.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 means that customers must be given adequate time to make a complaint. Six months is the minimum time that casinos must allow. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 also provides further protection for players.
Getting Help With Making a Complaint
If you don’t feel able to complain to the casino without some help, there’s a free, independent service available to consumers that can provide assistance. Resolver can provide help with all casino complaints, from the initial stage right through to escalation.
Common Casino Complaints
If you feel that the casino has provided you with poor service or not delivered on its promises, you may have grounds for complaint. You can complain about anything you’re unhappy with, and an investigation will determine the outcome.
The UK Gambling Commission tracks complaints about casinos, including from people who wanted to make a complaint but never pursued it. Some of the most common causes of complaint are:
- Misleading promotions or adverts
- Incorrect amount paid
- Winnings not paid
- Unable to withdraw money
- Rigged or unfair games
- Poor customer service
- Being allowed to gamble irresponsibly
- Issues relating to casino terms and conditions
- Unwanted communication from marketing
- Problems with gambling management tools, e.g. setting limits
- Difficulties with self-excluding
As can be seen from this list, there are a wide-ranging number of issues players may have cause to complain about.
The Role of the UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is the regulator of the gambling industry in the UK. This includes online casinos.
The UKGC sets out the terms that casinos have to meet in order to receive a licence, and they have codes of conduct that casinos must follow. Failing to follow the guidelines set out by the UKGC can result in hefty penalties for an online casino. In the most extreme circumstances, this could include losing their licence.
However, despite being responsible for monitoring and oversight of casinos, the UKGC does not deal with individual complaints unless there is an issue which could affect the casino’s licence. For example, if the casino has knowingly allowed players under the age of 18 years to gamble, the UKGC would investigate.
Although the UKGC will pursue any issues relating to a potential breach of licence conditions, this won’t help any players who want to make a complaint. This is because the UKGC doesn’t award money back to players or deal with complainants and their claims on an individual basis.
The UK Gambling Commission is responsible for upholding the Gambling Act 2005 and has set out three licensing objectives:
- To make sure that gambling remains open and fair
- To stop gambling from being associated with crime and also free of crime
- To ensure that vulnerable individuals and children are not exploited or harmed by gambling
As part of the first objective listed above, casinos must provide proper and full complaint procedures. This includes providing customers with the option of referring their complaint to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider – we’ll look at this option in more detail next.
How to Escalate a Complaint
There are a number of options for complaints that haven’t been resolved by the casino. The route you take will depend on the nature of the complaint.
If your complaint relates to advertising or promotional content, you will need to contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). They are the regulator for promotional material in the UK and are responsible for handling any complaints about casino advertising.
For example, you may want to complain that an advert for a special offer mentioned you’d receive 100 free spins but didn’t make it clear that you’d have to deposit £50 first.
As described above, if your complaint relates to a regulatory issue, you can escalate the matter to the UKGC for a review of the casino’s licence. The UKGC won’t consider specific and individual complaints, but it will investigate whether the casino has breached its licence and could enforce sanctions or penalties.
Therefore, any specific complaints that aren’t specifically related to advertising, and can’t be resolved directly with the casino, can be taken to an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution provider (ADR). The UKGC has a list of approved ADR companies, and every casino must have an agreement with at least one. It should be free for a customer to use the ADR firm.
The following ADR providers have all been approved by the UKGC and may be used by casinos:
- ADR Group
- Pegasus ADR Service
- Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)
- Tattersall’s Committee
Each casino will have an agreement with one or more of the above ADR providers, so you’ll need to use the one that covers the casino you want to complain about.
You will need to provide the same type of information to the ADR provider as you would to the casino, with full details (including screenshots) of your complaint.
If the complaint is worth £10,000 or less, the outcome of the ADR investigation will be legally binding upon the casino. If the value is greater than £10,000, the casino can opt to take further legal action if they don’t agree with the decision.
The decision of the ADR is not legally binding upon the customer, regardless of value. This means that if the ADR investigation did not find in your favour, you could opt to take the matter to court.
You can choose to skip ADR and take legal action instead. However, this will be more costly, take longer, and sometimes ADR is more likely to side with the player than the courts. This is because they view what’s fair and reasonable and look at best practice guidance, while the courts will only take strict legal definitions into account.
Understanding the ADR Process
When you refer your complaint to an ADR provider, it will normally provide you with a reply within 90 days. The process is as follows:
- ADR provider receives your complaint and makes an initial assessment
- The casino is asked for its response
- If the casino admits fault, the ADR provider will suggest a resolution which you can reject or accept
- The case is closed
- If the casino does not accept the complaint, it will submit a defence
- An adjudicator is appointed by the ADR provider
- You and the casino are provided with a written decision
- If you accept the decision, the casino is bound by the outcome
- If you reject the decision, the casino is not bound by the outcome. You are free to pursue the matter further through the courts.
Achieving the Best Outcome for Your Complaint
No matter who you have referred your complaint to, there are a number of measures you can adopt to improve your chances of success.
Refer Back To The Casino Terms And Conditions
Firstly, you should ensure that you are familiar with the relevant section of the casino terms and conditions. Showing how the casino has breached its own terms is a strong position to argue from. You can do this by taking screenshots or photographs of the relevant part of its terms and conditions, and describing how they have been breached in detail.
When you’re setting out the complaint, make sure you are clear and specific about the issue. Don’t be tempted to pile unrelated information into your complaint, as it can distract from what you want to be addressed. You need to ensure that you explain exactly what the problem is and how the casino has failed rather than just making general statements.
For example, “I emailed their customer service team three times requesting a withdrawal and didn’t get a response” is better than “their customer service is poor”. The former explains what the problem is, while the latter is just a vague grumble.
Although it’s helpful not to waffle, don’t be afraid to include as much relevant detail as possible. This includes referring back to the casino’s terms and conditions or providing a breakdown of all communication that you’ve had with them on the subject.
Keep Records Of All Communication
When you’ve raised a complaint, keeping records of all communication will be helpful if you need to escalate the matter. Any investigation will want to know when you contacted the casino and what was said. This includes any chasers you sent because you did not receive a response.
If you have been treated unfairly by a casino, you have the right to pursue a complaint. As described above, there is legislation in place to protect you, plus organisations that can support you through the process.
During the complaints process, you may have the opportunity to negotiate with the casino. Whether this is a good idea depends on the specifics of your complaint.
However, it is always worth giving it proper consideration if it covers your losses. No one can force you to accept a counteroffer, but some players are happy to do this to resolve the complaint to their satisfaction.
Now you know how to manage casino complaints and how to escalate the matter to get a fair outcome. But is this the only possible route, or is there a way of having a better casino experience without the need to complain? We’re going to look at that next.
How to Avoid the Need to Complain About Casinos
Let’s be clear, we’re not magicians, and we can’t promise you that you’ll NEVER have cause to complain about a casino again. But there are some steps you can take to slash the likelihood and give yourself a better chance of having a positive casino experience.
Research Casinos Before Joining Up
Like every industry, there are some rogue operators in the market and others which are legal but still don’t consistently deliver a good service. Doing your homework before signing up at a casino can be pivotal in avoiding complaints.
Before registering to play, check to make sure that the casino is licensed by the UKGC. You can also check its history on the UKGC register to see if there are any breaches of its licence recorded. It’s also advisable to go through casino reviews to see if the casino is scoring well with players.
Don’t Skip the Terms and Conditions
Reading through the terms and conditions of any casino isn’t a thrilling task, and it’s common for players to skip past the small print. Casinos aren’t supposed to bury important clauses, but there may be some important information that’s relevant to your account or how you want to play.
You don’t need to spend hours poring over the terms and conditions, but it’s a good idea to have a quick read through. The terms and conditions contain information about minimum and maximum withdrawal amounts, processing times, and special conditions that might apply.
Some customer complaints arise simply because the individual didn’t take the time to read the available information. Educate yourself in advance, and you’ll ensure there are no nasty surprises!
Have Realistic Expectations
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to wait for anything, and things would go exactly to plan. Unfortunately, life doesn’t usually work quite like that. By being realistic about what you can expect from a casino, you can prevent disappointment and stop your dissatisfaction from snowballing into a complaint.
For example, if you make a withdrawal request, it would be great if the casino processed it immediately. However, if you check the terms and conditions, you’ll find that many casinos say it can take 2-5 days before you’ll get your money, as it depends on an array of circumstances.
Manage Your Bankroll Properly
The UKGC requires every casino to operate socially responsible gambling policies, which include a range of measures to help customers. This could include everything from prompts during play to a self-exclusion facility. Some of the complaints about casinos related to players who felt that they didn’t receive enough help to stick to their limits.
Although casinos must have a responsible approach, players can also help themselves by managing their bankroll properly. This means not blowing through your whole budget in a single session or betting large amounts that you can’t afford.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of gambling, which is why some players need help with cutting back. However, measures such as setting your own limits can help you to bet more responsibly and avoid a complaint. Before playing, you should decide how much you can afford to bet in a single session and stick to this. Casinos have tools that can help, such as capping how much you can play per day.
Keep Up to Date About Responsible Gambling Measures
As we mentioned above, socially responsible gambling is big news. The UKGC expects casinos to take a dynamic and proactive approach to supporting players and offering protection.
Casinos offer a selection of tools to help players limit their gambling, including self-exclusion for anyone who wants to take a complete break for a while. Keep up to date with the measures that casinos can offer, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the full range of the latest tools available.
Proactively Contact Customer Support When Needed
Don’t wait until things have become a problem to contact the casino. By talking to them proactively about anything you’re not happy with, you may be able to prevent matters from becoming a complaint.