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Complaints about Gambling Operators

Contact us: 0203 621 3908 or 07827 961764 or by email to enquiries@promediate.co.uk

 

 

GUIDANCE FOR CONSUMERS AND OPERATORS

The Gambling Commission

ProMediate (UK) Limited is an independent alternative dispute resolution service, which has been set up to resolve disputes between customers and businesses in the UK in accordance with the ADR Directive and ODR Regulations.

ProMediate (UK) Limited is registered with the Civil Mediation Council and authorised by Trading Standards to deal with consumer disputes about businesses and lawyers.  It has also been certified by the Gambling Commission to deal with disputes between customers and Gambling operators.

We comply with the Civil Mediation Council’s code of conduct for mediators.  In relation to the Gambling Commission’s scheme, we also comply with The Ombudsman Association’s six principles of good governance.

In particular, we

  • are transparent about and make public information on how we are funded, and how we are independent
  • provide clear information about the purpose of the scheme
  • publish clear criteria to gambling businesses and customers about our methods and manner of, and timescales for, handling disputes
  • At least annually, implement a robust review or audit of dispute outcomes, service standards and service quality as well as governance arrangements, as evidenced in our annual ADR report.
  • We regularly publish performance data to help demonstrate to consumers that our procedures are transparent and independent. This includes key performance indicators (KPIs) measuring certain metrics of the ADR process. For example:
    • numbers of disputes received
    • average time taken to handle disputes
    • number/ percentage of disputes that took over 90 days to resolve from the date the provider received the complete complaint file
    • percentage of disputes formally resolved in favour of the customer
    • percentage of disputes formally resolved in favour of the gambling business
    • percentage of disputes resolved informally with agreement from both parties
    • numbers of disputes refused
    • metrics that the provider may collect related to customer satisfaction (for example, on clarity of information provided, ease of process, time taken to respond, final outcome).
    • ProMediate complies with the Gambling Commission’s Framework for ADR Providers:

2018-09-27-ADR-framework

ProMediate will accept any complaints about a gambling business, subject to the terms of acceptance, to include both domestic and cross-border disputes, including disputes referred via the new online dispute resolution platform.

The consumer indicates agreement to the terms and conditions of the mediation process when submitting the Complaint Form or emailing details of the complaint or dispute.


Who makes the decision in relation to my dispute?

ProMediate does not make a decision about your dispute but conciliates and mediates between you and the gambling business in an attempt to help you to reach a settlement.

The process is entirely voluntary and non-binding until any agreement is reached between you.


We acknowledge receipt of the dispute within 3 days.

The process begins with the customer submitting a Complaint Form and supporting documents, by email, uploading them to the website, (or by post) or simply emailing with details of the complaint to be resolved. The customer will also indicate their chosen method of communication for the process and make payment.  We accept disputes in English or in any language via the EU Online Platform.

After you have submitted your complaint form and any supporting documents, we will forward these to the Business within 7 calendar days. The business will then submit its response form and supporting documents, within calendar 7 calendar days and we will then contact the parties by telephone or email to try to resolve the case.

Consumers will be provided with a copy of any response filed by the business, or a summary if this is provided by telephone, so that they can consider their case.

We will identify the key issues and seek additional information from either party to the dispute to clarify information they have already supplied. For example, if we identify a gap in the evidence it is acceptable to ask either party to the dispute about the gap and for information that fills it. We do not have an investigatory role beyond this. It would not be acceptable for us to undertake an investigation that went beyond clarifying the information supplied by the parties to the dispute.

The outcome of the ADR process will not supersede the gambling consumer’s right to refer a dispute about a gambling transaction to court if the consumer does not agree with the gambling business or the provider’s decision. This right originates with the Gambling Act 2005 and is also contained in the ADR Regulations (Schedule 3, 8(c)).

Upon receipt of the Complaint Form, a mediator will be allocated to deal with the case, after checking that they do not have any conflict of interest and that the Refusals Policy does not apply (see below).

ADR Officials – The Mediator

Your claim will be dealt with by a professional, fully trained ProMediate mediator (ADR Official) who will be completely independent and impartial as well as being knowledgeable regarding the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and other consumer legislation. Details of our ADR officials can be found on our website.

If your complaint concerns a gambling operator, it will be dealt with by a mediator with experience of the licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) social responsibility code.

A list of ProMediate’s current mediators can be found on the website, with details of their experience and qualifications.

The mediators possess a general understanding of the law and the necessary knowledge and skills in the field of out of court or judicial resolution of consumer disputes, to be able to carry out their functions competently.

Each mediator is a permanent appointment to the panel of mediators and an independent contractor, ensuring the independence of their actions and they cannot be relieved of their duties without just cause.


Conflicts of Interest

ProMediate will replace a mediator who declares that they have a conflict of interest in relation to a dispute with another mediator.

If a mediator who declares a conflict of interest cannot be replaced by another mediator, then the mediator will stop conducting the dispute resolution procedure. Where possible, a proposal will be put to the parties that they submit their dispute to another ADR organisation competent to deal with it;

where this is not possible, a declaration to the parties as to the circumstances of the conflict of interest declared by the mediator, that they have a right to object to that mediator continuing to handle their dispute and that the organisation can only continue to deal with the dispute if no party objects.

The obligation to disclose a conflict of interest remains a continuing obligation throughout the alternative dispute resolution procedure (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 3(f)).

As a minimum, the ADR Regulations (Schedule 3, 4) require ADR providers to have in place the following procedure in the event of a conflict of interest:

  • where possible, the ADR official is replaced by another official to handle the particular dispute
  • if the ADR official cannot be replaced, the official must refrain from conducting the alternative dispute resolution procedure and we must, where possible, propose to the parties that they submit the dispute to another ADR provider that is competent to deal with it.
  • If the dispute cannot be transferred to another ADR provider, we will inform the parties to the dispute of the circumstances of the conflict of interest and that they have the right to object to the conflicted person continuing to handle the dispute, and can only continue with the dispute if no party objects.
  • We ensure that parties to the dispute understand that where the dispute is transferred to another provider, the terms and conditions of that provider will apply to both parties for that dispute.
  • Where ADR officials work part-time for the ADR provider and part-time in another capacity (eg, as gambling trade association official), we ensure that the official is not conflicted by their non-ADR duties. Any such conflicts are reported and dealt with in accordance with the above policy.

Grounds for Refusal

The ADR Regulations list the only grounds under which an ADR provider may refuse to deal with a dispute (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, paragraph 13).

a) Prior to submitting the complaint to the body, the consumer has not attempted to contact the trader concerned in order to discuss the consumer’s complaint, and sought, as a first step, to resolve the matter directly with the trader.
Consumers must first approach the gambling business to attempt to resolve a complaint before escalating to ADR. Gambling businesses are generally required as a condition of their licence to resolve the complaint, or agree that no resolution can be reached, within a maximum time of eight weeks from receiving the complaint.2 If the complaint remains unresolved at this stage, the business should issue a ‘deadlock letter’ or final letter to confirm that the consumer has attempted to resolve the matter with the business and may now escalate the matter to ADR. This applies whether or not the consumer has fully exhausted the business’s complaints procedure at the eight-week stage.
b) The dispute is frivolous or vexatious.
The ADR provider may determine whether a dispute is frivolous or vexatious, and if so, refuse to deal with it. The gambling business may not refuse to refer a consumer’s complaint to an ADR provider on these grounds.
c) The dispute is being, or has been previously, considered by another ADR entity or by a court.
The ADR system is intended to be a light-touch alternative to court proceedings. It is not intended to provide parties to a dispute with repeated opportunities to achieve a different outcome. If the consumer is not satisfied with the decision of an ADR provider, they have the option to refer the matter to a court.
d) The value of the claim falls above or below the monetary threshold of 10,000. Gambling disputes can vary in value quite significantly. ADR providers should ensure that monetary thresholds set do not significantly restrict consumers’ access to ADR.
e) The consumer has not submitted the complaint to the body within the time period specified by the body, provided that such time period is not less than 12 months from the date upon which the trader has given notice to the consumer that the trader is unable to resolve the complaint with the consumer.
f) Dealing with such a dispute would seriously impair the effective operation of the body.
An ADR provider might refuse to deal with a dispute that raises difficult legal issues fit for determination by a court (which might set a precedent). Similarly, a provider might refuse a dispute that is more properly determined by a regulator, such as the Commission. The ADR provider should not be considering potential breaches of gambling licence where there is no transactional/contractual element to make the matter a dispute. However, the provider should consider whether there are contractual/transactional aspects that the provider could consider. This is discussed in greater detail in the following section.
2 But see Social responsibility code provision 6.1.1.2 in LCCP, which permits a gambling business to ‘stop the clock’ on the eight-week time limit where a consumer fails to engage with the process within a
reasonable timescale.

Where we refuse to deal with a dispute  within three weeks of the date upon which we received the complaint file, we will inform both parties and provide a reasoned explanation of the grounds for not considering the dispute (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, para 15). The complete complaint file is made up of all the documents containing the relevant information relating to the dispute (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, para 6(c)). This does not include any additional comment made by a party to the dispute on the arguments, evidence, documents and facts put forward by the other party to the dispute.

Our policy regarding when we will refuse to deal with a dispute, including in relation to any monetary threshold we set of 10,000, does not significantly impair consumers’ access to our alternative dispute resolution procedures (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, para 14).


The Mediation Process

The ProMediate mediator will act as a go-between between you and the business, discuss the details of the complaint and see whether there is any scope for agreement between you. All communications between you, the business and the mediator during the process will be “without prejudice” (that is, that they cannot be referred to elsewhere, for instance in court proceedings) and are non-binding. You are free at any stage to terminate the mediation process.

  • we acknowledge receipt of the consumer’s initial contact within 3 working days. We also notify the consumer of their right to withdraw, and of their rights around independent legal advice, as per the requirements of the ADR Regulations.
  • we provide an update to the consumer at the end of each 30 days that the dispute is ongoing (once we have received all the documents that make up the complete complaint file), where the consumer has not received any other update from us during the preceding 30 days. This update might explain to the consumer the point in the dispute procedure that the complaint has reached, the reason for any delays (where appropriate), and confirm to the consumer that the dispute process is continuing.
  • we provide further updates at the end of each 30 days that the dispute is ongoing if the dispute takes longer than 90 days to complete (and where the consumer has not received any other update from us within the preceding 30 days).
  • We will also need to communicate with the consumer at other times outside of this process. For example, we will need to ensure that parties to the dispute are aware of their right to see and comment on evidence advanced by the other parties and may also need to contact parties to clarify evidence that has been put forward.
  • We will ‘pause’ a dispute if the customer takes a significant amount of time to respond to requests for information or engage with the dispute resolution process. This ‘pause’ can be triggered at any stage within the dispute process. Our procedure for closing a dispute when no contact is received from the customer is to close a dispute within 28 days of no contact being received.

Disclosure of Evidence:

However, the ADR Regulations require us to disclose to a party to a dispute on request the arguments, evidence, documents and facts put forward by the other party (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 7(b)) as part of the requirements under fairness.

We ensure that parties to a dispute are made aware of their right to request the information put forward by the other party as soon as possible in the dispute process. All such information will be provided to them in a timely manner.

The only exception to this requirement is where sharing evidence or information may result in a conflict with other law or regulations. For example, where sharing personal information may contravene the GDPR, or sharing information that alerts a customer that they are being investigated for money laundering concerns may constitute a criminal offence under the Money Laundering Regulations.


How will the mediator assist in resolving the case?

The mediator will negotiate between the parties to find an amicable solution and if the complaint settles, will help draw up an agreement. If, at the end of the 28 calendar days from receipt of the Complaint Form and Response Form (or 90 day long stop), no solution has been agreed, the mediator will confirm that no settlement has been reached in durable format. During the process they will consider the evidence submitted by the parties and the Complaint and Response Forms, all relevant law, when considering what is most fair and reasonable in light of all of the circumstances before them. The process can be extended by consent of both parties, upon payment of a further fee.

There is a long stop deadline of 90 calendar days to complete the process.

Can I talk directly to the mediator?

Yes, after you have submitted your Complaint and supporting documents (online, by email or by post), the mediator will forward these documents to the business within 7 days and the business will submit its Response and documents (or respond by email or telephone). The mediator will then email or telephone you within a further 7 days after the business has submitted its Response and documents. During mediation the mediator is available to discuss the matter further by telephone (without the business hearing what you have to say) or will use the preferred means of communication. The mediator will provide you with a copy of the business’ response to the complaint or summarise this if provided by telephone.

Our process is flexible and therefore communications between the parties and the mediator can take place by telephone, email, or post and documents can be uploaded onto the website. The mediator will adopt the means of communication with the customer indicated as preferred by the customer when submitting their Complaint.

Will there be a hearing for me to provide evidence?

No, there is no hearing as such where a decision is made. Instead, the mediator will communicate with you and the business separately in confidence to try to resolve the case, using your chosen means of communication.

When will the dispute be resolved?

ProMediate will deal with your dispute within 28 days of receiving your completed Complaint and the Response. If the claim has not settled, to assist the parties, the mediator will issue confirmation that the matter has not been resolved.

There is a long stop deadline of 90 calendar days to complete the process from receipt of the Complaint.

Do I have to pay to use the scheme?

No, for cases concerning complaints about gambling operators, the system is free to consumers. The Business pays a fee to ProMediate.  We are a private company funded by our shareholders and income we receive from mediation services.

Can I recover the costs of preparing my case?

No, you must pay any costs you incur in preparing and submitting your case to ProMediate, which include any incidental or third party costs. If, for example, you decide to take legal advice about making an application you must pay for that yourself.

Do I need a lawyer?

No, you do not need a lawyer but you can choose to use one if you wish, but you will have to pay all of the legal (or other professional) costs you incur in making your application yourself.

Referring a Dispute to ProMediate

When can I make an application to ProMediate?

An application to ProMediate can be made after:

  1. you have exhausted the business’ complaints procedure; and
  2. you have been told by the business that that you are eligible to apply to ProMediate in an email or “deadlock” letter (where you have come to the end of the internal process and the dispute has not settled).

What kind of disputes can ProMediate deal with?

We can deal with disputes related to any consumer issues relating to the provision of goods and/or services which have been the subject of an internal business complaints procedure.

ProMediate will assess your application against the Refusals Policy criteria (see below) and if your dispute does not fall within the scope of the scheme, you will be told by ProMediate and your application will not be referred to a mediator.

The business will also have the opportunity to object to the acceptance of your application if it considers that the dispute is outside the scope of the scheme. In such circumstances ProMediate will rule on the validity of the application and the decision of ProMediate will be final.

What is the maximum amount I am able to claim under ProMediate scheme?

The maximum claim amount is £10,000 per purchase or per transaction. Claims with a higher value can be dealt with by ProMediate outside the scheme.

Refusals

Where, in accordance with the policy on refusals ProMediate is unable to consider a dispute submitted to it, we will provide both parties with a reasoned explanation of the grounds for not considering the dispute within 3 calendar weeks of receiving the ‘complaint file’, unless we have been misled by one of the parties into considering a dispute.

What should I put in my application?

You will need to include the letter or email from the business telling you that you can apply to ProMediate. You should set out what your dispute is about and your application should include details of:

  • the company’s goods or services which the dispute is about;
  • the events leading to the complaint;
  • the precise issues in dispute;
  • the steps already taken to attempt to reach a resolution with the business;
  • the relevant dates for the service issues and prior steps taken to seek resolution;
  • the reasons for requesting the remedy or remedies sought;
  • the reasons and evidence in support of any compensation claimed;
  • the remedy or remedies being sought;
  • any relevant supporting documents – remember it will help your application if you can provide evidence to support your claim.

Finally you must let us have your authority to allow the company to release all information on their files relating to your claim.

ProMediate has designed an application form (online) that will take you through these requirements step by step.

Can ProMediate help me with my application?

Yes, the ProMediate team is available to offer guidance about how to make your application. ProMediate is committed to providing appropriate accessibility for everyone it deals with. ProMediate will not, however, be able to tell you how to set out your claim or offer any advice about the claim you wish to make.

Settlements

The business made me an offer before I made my application, can I still accept it?

Yes, any offer or offers made by the business before you made your application are open and you can accept them after you have made your application, unless the business has withdrawn the offer.

What if the business makes me an offer after I have made my application?

You can accept any offer made by the business after you have made your application. This is called an agreed settlement.

Will ProMediate negotiate with the business for me?

Yes, ProMediate is an impartial, independent dispute resolution service; it will not act for either you or the company. However, negotiations will only take place during the mediation process and ProMediate cannot be asked to take extra steps outside the mediation process.

Mediation Settlement Agreements

What can ProMediate make the business do?

Whilst it is anticipated that businesses will comply with settlement agreements, ProMediate cannot make the business comply with any settlement agreement reached, but a settlement agreement will be binding on the parties (and is enforceable using other agencies).

During the process, we can, if appropriate, suggest that the business provide or do any or all of the following:

  • provide an explanation and/or an apology;
  • provide replacement goods or services;
  • do something about your bill or bills;
  • take some specified action ;
  • provide financial compensation

Remember that in all cases the mediator cannot order the business to pay you or to take any action or provide any goods or service. If the business does not honour the agreement, you will need to apply to other agencies including the Court to enforce the agreement.

Can ProMediate fine the business and/or take any punitive action against it?

No, ProMediate is not a regulator and cannot impose fines on businesses. The role of ProMediate is to help to resolve individual disputes between customers and businesses in an impartial manner.

What should I do when I receive a settlement proposal?

You are free to take the matter further at any stage (before settlement).

You have 5 calendar days to tell ProMediate whether you accept any proposal (unless we agree a longer acceptance period). If you accept a proposal, it will be binding on the business and the customer.

Under the ADR Regulations (5(n)), information that ADR providers must make publicly available includes the legal effect of the outcome of the dispute resolution process, including whether the outcome is enforceable and the penalties for non-compliance with the outcome, if any.  Our process is only binding on the business once an agreement has been reached between the parties.

Reconsideration and Appeals

As we are not a decision making body, there is no appeal process.

We recognise that there may be times when we may receive information relevant to the outcome of a dispute after the outcome has been issued. For example, the consumer may provide an email that we have not seen before. The existence of a new email in itself would not necessarily be grounds to reopen a dispute. But if the email contained new information that impacted on the dispute, then we will consider whether the dispute should be reopened.

We will reconsider the outcome of a dispute after the outcome has been issued if any new information is provided and there is a 6 month time limit for requesting such reconsideration.  We will follow the same process as set out above when reconsidering the case and at the end of the process we will inform the parties whether an agreement has been reached or no settlement has been achieved.

Service: What if I want to complain about ProMediate?

ProMediate has a set complaints procedure which can be found on the website. ProMediate is registered with the Civil Mediation Council as an ADR Provider and complies with the EU Code of Conduct for Mediators.

In the case of any complaint regarding our Gambling Commission approved scheme we will acknowledge the complaint within 3 days.  An independent ADR Official from ProMediate’s panel who has not been involved in the matter, will consider the complaint, investigate and report back to the complainant within 28 days with a recommended outcome for the complaint.

Is ProMediate registered under the Data Protection Act 1998?

ProMediate (UK) Limited is registered under the Data Protection Act 1998 and we destroy all data regarding matters dealt with in accordance with our data protection policy.

Any Queries? Contact Us:

ProMediate – Brow Farm Top Road Frodsham WA6 6SP

Tel: 0203 621 3908 Email: enquiries@promediate.co.uk

 

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ProMediate is certified by CTSI to provide mediation services for consumer/business disputes in the UK. The charges that ProMediate is authorised to raise for each dispute dealt with are as follows:

Cost to businesses:

Value of Goods or Services

Up to £1,000                                         – £50 plus VAT

– £2,500                                                  – £75 plus VAT

– £5,000                                                  – £100 plus VAT

– £7,500                                                   – £125 plus VAT

– £10,000                                                 – £150 plus VAT

Payment can be made here for individual disputes:

Business Membership fee £100 plus VAT – sign up here……

Cost to Consumers:

Value of Goods or Services

Up to £1,000                                          – £10 plus VAT

£2,500                                                     – £25 plus VAT

£5,000                                                      – £50 plus VAT

£7,500                                                       – £75 plus VAT

£10,000                                                    – £100 plus VAT

The above charges are based upon 1 hour of mediator time. Disputes above this value can exit the scheme and be dealt with by ProMediate’s general mediation service.

It is a term of the Click2Resolve scheme that the business and consumer must consent to use the service, before instructing us.

Payment by Consumers can be made here……

Mediation Set up Service

If you contact us without first getting the other person or business to agree to use our service, we will contact them to try to obtain their agreement.

In those circumstances we do charge a set up fee for this service. It is sometimes possible to resolve your dispute informally after one or two calls without even booking a mediation appointment!

When we receive an initial enquiry we crack on immediately trying to make contact with the other side in the dispute, emailing info, leaving messages on the telephone and even text messages. Our working hours are never 9-5 and we will often make contact at a time that meets the needs of our clients, evenings and weekends included.

Sometimes one side requires key information before they will agree to mediate. We will often liaise with all concerned to make sure this is shared. Once contact is made there will be further to-ing and fro-ing to set up the appointment, documents sent out and making sure everyone is comfortable with the process.

We charge the following fees for contacting the other party in this way:

Value of Goods or services:

Up to £1,000 – £10 plus VAT

– £2,500       – £25 plus VAT

–  £2,500 upwards – £50 plus VAT

If you have already discussed your case with one of our mediators and need to pay your set up fee click below to pay by PayPal (if you need an alternative payment method please contact our office on 01928734630). (click below to make a payment)