Bookmaker & Casino Disputes: How to Complain
In most cases, you will place bets and collect your winnings without any fuss. Gambling is regulated in the UK and bookies need to be licensed in order to operate.
This means that you expect them to act professionally at all times. If you don’t use shady, unlicensed bookies then what could go wrong?
Well, might you sometimes run into problems and bookmaker disputes? Maybe a bookmaker won’t pay out when you think they should? Or perhaps they refuse to release your funds? There are plenty of things that can go wrong in this relationship. This is especially true when there is a lot of money at stake.
If you have problems with a bookie then what should you do? Can you hope to see it resolved in your favour? You definitely don’t want to just give up without a fight.
What are the most common bookmaker & casino disputes?
Running a Matched Betting website, we do get the occasional dispute when a bookmaker or casino doesn’t want to pay out. Here are the main disputes and the outcomes.
1) Silent gubbings
The outfit let you take part in a promotion. When you ask for the bonus they say you’re bonus banned (known as a silent gubbing). They must inform you of the promotional ban before you take part, not afterwards.
The IBAS ruling: –
If a customer is to be excluded from an offer that decision must be communicated prior to the bet being entered in to.
The decision to exclude customers from promotions rests with the company but the decision must be communicated to the customer otherwise the customer can be induced to bet with the company, rather than a rival, on a false premise.
2) Being a member of a Matched Betting website
You take part in an offer posted on a Matched Betting website. The bookmaker or casino detects this and refuses to pay out. Taking part in offers posted on a Matched Betting website is not a reason to confiscated funds. Winnings (including those from a bonus) must be paid.
The IBAS ruling: –
The Panel have seen many cases which involves the following of third party advice. Many operators class this as ‘collusion’ but the Panel’s view is that following advice from a third party is a normal feature of everyday like and in itself is not collusion. It is also the case that sports betting there is a long history of media publications and analysis services providing bet selections.
Bookmaker disputes: The Basics
As mentioned earlier, UK bookmakers need to be licensed. It is the Gambling Commission that deals with this area. However, they don’t deal with bookie dispute resolution. Instead, you need to head to a type of gambling ombudsman service.
What this means is that you could use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. This is a firm that will act as a mediator between you and the bookie in the case of bookmaker disputes. There are a few different bookie ombudsman options like this. Such as IBAS or eCOGRA.
So, how should you go about this? Well, it is important that you carry out the right steps in the correct order.
- Be sure that you are right. Have you done anything wrong? Or is the bookie completely at fault for this issue? If you have done anything untoward or dodgy then the dispute process will throw this up. Don’t waste your time by complaining if you know that you are in the wrong.
- Complain to the bookie / casino. As with most types of complaint, you need to first of all try and resolve it directly. Ask the bookmaker why they aren’t playing ball. Be reasonable and civil while making your points clear and concise. They might see sense and give you what you want with no more problems.
- If the previous point doesn’t work out then it is time to escalate matters. This is when you can get an ADR service involved. You will need to make sure that you give them all of the details very clearly. There are also other, independent resolution options. They aren’t as highly recommended but we will look at them in a minute.
- Ok, so what if neither of those two points work out? The next step is to take legal action against the bookies. This is the last resort and not something to be done lightly. You will only want to do this if you feel that your case is watertight. You will probably only consider this move if the amount of money is significant too.
Let’s now go through those different options one by one. How do you get started? What can you do to give yourself the best possible chance of success?
Don’t forget that it is vital that you keep records. These are the dates, facts and figures that are going to prove your case. If you don’t have records to back you up then it is extremely difficult to resolve bookmaker disputes. You can be sure that the bookie will have their version of events recorded.
These records should include the dates and times when you contacted the bookie. Who did you speak to and what did they say to you? What did you say to them and what follow-up action was promised? Did you speak to a supervisor or a manager?
All of these details might seem unimportant at the time. But they could be crucial later on. It is likely that you are asked for facts and figures at some point. The clearer your story is the greater your chances of success.
We all tend to forget the details over time, though. Was it at the start of the month you called or in the middle? Did you speak to Joe or was he maybe called John? Your claim could fall apart on little details like this.
So, why not set up a document on your computer to note everything that happens. Do this as soon as you see that there is an issue. Good, detailed records can be vital in dealing with bookmaker disputes of any type.
Email the Bookmaker
Ideally, you will get this bookie dispute resolved without any third party assistance. The best way to resolve gambling issues is to contact the bookie by email. This gives them a chance to put their hands up and admit that they were wrong.
Of course, there are a few do’s and don’ts to bear in mind here. The biggest no-no is in being threatening or abusive. This won’t get you anywhere and will only make matter worse. If you are feeling hot under the collar then cool down before writing to them.
The person who reads your email doesn’t know you or your case. If you start off by attacking them they will naturally become defensive. Instead, get them on your side by being polite but firm and persuasive. A lot of bookmaker disputes can be solved amicably at this point.
You also need to be clear and to the point. Don’t waffle or add in too many details. It might make sense to write a few drafts until you get it right.
By sending this email you are giving the bookie a chance to deal with it. Therefore, you should write this email as someone expecting to get dealt with professionally. You aren’t at war with them. You just want to firmly point out that they did something wrong.
What if you still can’t resolve the issue like this? Then you should ask the bookmaker for their ADR. They all have them, so there is no way that they should say no to you. Every registered bookie needs to have a complaints process in place that customers can access.
Often, just being persistent means they will solve bookmaker disputes at this stage. They will do this just to get rid of you, to be honest. Don’t be afraid to follow up your emails to keep them on their toes. You could even do this a few times a day to help push things on.
You can find a list of ADRs on the Gambling Commission site. We can go through and take a look at each one in a moment.
The Resolver Dispute Process
Head to the Resolver site. Here, you type in the detail of the bookie you are in dispute with. Resolver is not an official ADR however I’ve found this to be the fastest way to solves problems as the Gambling Commission gets to see all the complaints.
This will let you see whether bookmaker disputes with that firm can be resolved here. If they can, you can open the complaint on the same site. Start off by choosing the category and then the exact problem.
After this, you need to read your rights. This ensures that you know exactly what you are doing. You can then enter the full details of the case.
It is worth pointing out that not all UK bookies & casinos are listed on here. Most of the big names are present but not all of them are.
If you find your bookie then this is the fastest way of resolving disputes with them. The process for entering details is easy and it is a tried and tested process.
Having said that, experience shows that they don’t always reply. Remember that this is a free and independent online tool. They don’t act on your behalf and aren’t a third party. The site simply acts as a place to keep all of the complaint details in one place.
The idea is that bookie complaints are dealt with more efficiently in this way. Some people are happy that this service is useful. Other haven’t had so much luck. It is certainly worth trying but don’t pin all your hopes on it
The IBAS Dispute Process
One of the main ADRs you could use is called IBAS. The name stands for Independent Betting Adjudication Service. They cover a wide range of different types of gambling disputes. This includes bookies as well as lotteries, casinos and bingo.
Again, you can get started by seeing if your bookie is registered on the directory here. There is a good selection but not every bookie is here.
I should start by pointing out that IBAS disputes can run for up to a year. This means that you will need a good deal of patience. However, I have seen a good deal of success with them. If you keep calm and hang in there it could end well for you eventually.
You should be aware that this bookmaker disputes service is funded by bookmakers. This might make you a bit wary of using them in a dispute. Yet, I’ve always found them to rule fairly on cases. They call themselves an impartial adjudication service and this certainly seems to be the case.
To get going, you need to enter full details of the dispute. As always, it pays to be as thorough as possible. They will then ask the bookie for their comments. At this point, they will pass the details to an independent panel.
They may come back to you or to the bookie for more details. Both parties get then get advised of the decision at the same time. Each of you also has the option to appeal the outcome.
The eCORGA Dispute Process
This is another bookmaker dispute option that can take up to 12 months to give results. eCORGA has been around since 2003 and looks to ensure self-regulation in the UK gambling industry. As part of this, they offer to help sort out bookie disputes.
Their dispute resolution service covers certain provider, mainly casinos. As with the other ADRs, you should start by making sure that your bookie is listed. You also need to wait a minimum of 2 weeks since the problem began. As always, you need to have to have attempted to resolve it directly too.
After this is done, you need to complete the details of the dispute. They aim to confirm back to you in the first 2 days after you register. After this, expect weekly updates until the whole thing is resolved.
Bear in mind that eCORGA attempts to mediate bookie disputes. They can’t force either side to accept their decisions. I have never heard of anybody making a complaint using eCORGA so I can’t comment if they are effective or not.
Independent Sites – Not Approved But They Offer Dispute Resolution
There are also some independent sites that you could turn to. Personally I would avoid these avenues and use the ADRs mentioned earlier. However, some people have had success in this way.
Basically, these are affiliate sites. This brings with it some potential drawbacks. I’ve seen evidence of past cases in which evidence of a casino being wrong has been ignored.
A few of the main, independent bookmaker disputes services are as listed below.
- Ask Gamblers. They say that their complaints service has helped 8,425 gamblers recover over $19 million. Interestingly, you can see what disputes are open and how long is left to resolve them.
- Sportsbook Review. This site lets you very simply register a complaint. There isn’t a lot of detail about what happens next, though.
- The Pogg. In this case, the mediation service is mainly used for casino disputes. You can see a list of the complaints that they have helped to clear up in the past.
How Effective Is the Bookmakers’ ADR Process?
Ultimately, you want to know what your chances of success are. As we have seen, the ADR process is the best option. But how effective is this really? Will they help you to claim what is due to you?
To be fair, most of the time it works well and the issue gets solved. With a bit of luck, you get paid out quickly and with very little hassle. Yet, I have seen cases where IBAS have ruled in the favour of a punter to no effect. Even with this in the client’s favour, the gambling firm still refused to pay out.
In these cases, contacting the Gambling Commission still didn’t work. So, the process isn’t perfect. If a bookie simply won’t comply then this service won’t achieve much more.
One dispute between a punter and Bet At Casino has been on going for 2 years. IBAS rules in the players favour however Bet At Casino refused to pay out still. The player contacted the Gambling Commission who said they can’t get involved.
Thankfully this is a rare case.
A lot of punters simply give up on bookmaker disputes at this point. But what if you are sure that you are right? Would you be willing to take it further?
Taking Legal Action
What if none of the other methods to resolve bookmaker disputes have worked for you? By now, it is clear that you will be pretty fed up. Should you take legal action as a final option? This isn’t an option to be taken lightly but could it work?
If you do this and win they will have to pay out. This isn’t something that the bookmaker can just ignore. Therefore, it is a way of forcing them to act if you are convinced that you are right.
On the other hand, what if you don’t win? This could turn out to be a costly waste of time. You also need to remember that you might need to stand in court to make your case.
If you are willing to go ahead with legal action how should you do it? First of all, you need to send them a letter before action. To do this, you need to find out where they are based.
You can do this by emailing the Gambling Commission and asking . For UK based companies, you can then follow the claims process listed on here.
In other cases, the bookie might be registered somewhere like Malta or Gibraltar. To deal with these cases, you can use this form.
How Effective Is the Bookmaker Dispute Process Overall
Overall, what are your chances of getting any bookmaker disputes resolved? The truth is that this process can be very slow. You will need to have a lot of patience in order to see it through to the end.
However, generally it works ok. What would be good is if ADR rulings were made legal. This would mean that casinos and bookmakers would have to pay out based on the rulings.
The whole process also needs speeding up. There really is no reason why this should take any longer than a few weeks. Having to wait up to a year to resolve a bookie dispute is unacceptable.
With a bit of luck, you will never enter into dispute with any bookie. If you can just keep on winning money and never have any issues then this is perfect.
But life isn’t always like this. If you are unlucky then you might have bookmaker disputes that need sorted out. When the bookie doesn’t see sense then taking it further is an option.
Of course, you need to be confident right at the start that you have a strong case. If you are then you can look to get the dispute resolved in any of the ways we have looked at here.