There are those in the sector who believe that the UK Gambling Commission aren’t up to scratch when it comes to advancing the interests of sports punters and casino gamers. So much so, the regulator made it onto the pages of the government’s own ombudsman website when they were upheld to have delivered ‘poor communication’, and simply ‘did not have the power’ to investigate claims made by an anonymous customer about lottery operator Camelot.
Many have argued the case for an independent body to investigate claims on behalf of bettors in the UK, and it’s an idea that may or may not be actioned in the upcoming white paper on the industry.
In the meantime, a prominent UK organisation has already thrown their hat into the ring to fill the role of ombudsman if required. The Independent Betting Adjudication Service, better known as IBAS, already acts as an impartial judge for the gambling sector, fielding complaints from gamers and investigating them accordingly.
IBAS has resolved more than 85,000 disputes over 25 years, and the firm’s managing director, Richard Hayler, believes they are perfectly placed to fill the void, saying:
I welcome the creation of a new ombudsman, but for this to work it needs to be run by an organisation that understands the sector and has a track record of helping and protecting consumers.
An ombudsman with additional resources, built on the foundations of IBAS is best placed to hit the ground running, protecting consumers and raising industry standards through fair, consistent decision making and constructive dispute avoidance feedback.
So determined are they to step into the breach that they have penned a 13-page dossier pitching their successes to the government. This reveals how they could improve standards for bettors and casino gamers in the UK, and how they would set about overseeing the sector.
They believe that creating a new ombudsman from scratch would be time consuming and expensive, and that those involved may lack the necessary experience and expertise to oversee the UK gambling industry at a time when much upheaval is anticipated. IBAS has intimated they’d do the job at a snip of the price, requiring £1 million to see them through an initial transition period before charging £3.5 million annually for their services.
What Does a Gambling Ombudsman Do?
There are those who believe that the complaints procedure in place with the UK Gambling Commission is too slow to achieve results, and that their investigative powers perhaps aren’t as all-encompassing as they should be. With the introduction of an independent ombudsman thought to be high on the list of priorities for the government’s Gambling Act review, there is likely to be a vacancy that needs filling.
In short, a gambling ombudsman’s role would be to ensure the highest standards are adhered to – great news for bettors and casino gamers who feel short-changed by their operator from time to time. They would look to reduce problem gambling and ensure firms are adhering to the best practices in monitoring their players’ behaviour – particularly the most vulnerable.
The ombudsman would be the first port of call for complaints too, investigating on behalf of punters whether a bookmaker or online casino has acted in accordance with their licensing requirements or not.