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ADR Report 1st of October 2018-30th of September 2019

Posted by ThePOGG on Oct 01, 2019

Note – The MGA ADR role only came into effect on the 1st of April 2019, but this report runs in line with the October to September calendar originally established under our previous UKGC ADR role. As such this report comprises of a little over 6 months of ADR function for the MGA.

Number of complaints managed

Total complaints managed – 868

Total complaints managed under the MGA ADR remit – 104

As is based in the UK and our ADR remit does not extend to UK citizens, all complaints managed under the ADR remit are considered ‘cross borders’ disputes.

Types of Complaint

The different types of complaint are defined below:

  • Bonus – Complaints related to the interpretation or application of promotional terms and conditions.
  • Multi-Accounting – The complainant’s account has been associated with other accounts in a manner which breaches operator terms and conditions.
  • Payment Delays – Self-explanatory.
  • KYC – Issues with the verification of a player’s identity or the complainant’s understanding of what is needed to meet KYC requirements.
  • Breakdown in Communications – Complaints where one or both parties has reached an impasse due to either technological breakdown or a failure of one or both parties to comprehend information that could resolve the issue. This also encompasses operators that refuse to discuss complaints and situations where a player becomes non-responsive to our service outside of our ADR remit.
  • Gaming Protection – Complaints related to Self-Exclusions or other Responsible Gambling related policies.
  • Retro-Active Term Enforcements – Complaints where an operator has update terms after a player win and attempts to apply those new terms to justify non-payment of winnings.
  • Software Issues – Complaints related to the fairness or integrity of the game software.

In the figures below the first number represents all complaints while the figure after the '/' represents the figure amoungst only ADR based complaints:

Bonus – 181/33

Multi Accounting – 70/15

Payment Delays – 211/10

Verification Issues – 142/11

Breakdown in Communication – 5/4

Gambling Protection – 155/22

Retroactive term enforcement – 6/2

Software Issues – 36/6

Systematic Problems

- Maximum Bet Terms – As is consistent with what we have seen historically, maximum bet terms associated with bonuses represent the #1 reason for disputes between operators and players. There would be a significantly reduced case load of complaints if these terms were to be enforced automatically rather than relying on players to remember and adhere to them.

While we recognise the difficulty of operator licensees each creating bespoke systems to interface with the dozens of software providers on the market, if software licensees were required to create a standardised interface (if bonus active on account restrict bet to maximum of X else normal limits – this would only require a binary Yes/No communication from the operator’s system and to set the threshold of X to the level desired by the operator) to allow for this functionality where a bonus was in play it would be significantly more efficient than operators trying to create this functionality.

As things currently stand, the industry are incentivised to take no action on this issue as where players breach the max bet terms and lose the operator retains the losses and where the players breach the max bet term and win they automatically forfeit all winnings. Effectively breaches of these terms create a win/win situation for the operator and a lose/lose situation for the player. If changes are to be seen they will have to come from the regulator.

While players do ultimately bear responsibility for knowing and adhering to the terms of any promotion they accept, this simple change would have significant bearing on both the complaint levels being seen and the general level of consumer satisfaction with the industry.

An alternative strategy that would be less effective, but still likely result in a significant reduction in player issues related to this matter would be to require operators to display an onscreen reminder of the maximum allowed bet at all times while a bonus is in play. This reminder could be implemented without having to interface with any game programming, significantly reducing the complexity of the undertaking.

- Self-Exclusions – The second most frequent type of complaint occurring relates to Responsible Gambling policies and specifically the single property nature of the current MGA self-exclusion properties. A large volume of players, being informed about the policies of other significant regulatory entities (specifically the UKGC), expect that where they request a self-exclusion that this exclusion will be applied to all properties on the license. The fact that the MGA currently only require self-exclusions to be applied to the property that they are requested at is resulting in a significant gap between consumer expectation and consumer experience.

Beyond this, where a business is aware that a player has addiction issues and the player has specifically requested help in limiting their access to gambling services, there would appear to be a disparity in the licensee being required to restrict the player from accessing gambling services on one url but allowed to provide the same player access to the same gambling services on a different url. Common sense would seem to suggest that an exclusion on one site should be applied to all sites on the license as default rather than requiring the player to explicitly request this happens as is currently required.

This type of dispute not only represents a large proportion of the overall case load but is ethically challenging to defend.

- Self-Exclusion Detection – Another common complaint relates to the accuracy of detection of currently excluded accounts with relation to duplication. Under current regulation small changes in data – for instance, using a different email address – can result in a duplicate registration by a gambling addict going undetected.

While there are clear systematic reasons that the email address field makes a strong detection marker for identifying duplicate accounts, many licensees would appear to be using this as a sole detection mechanism and where a player changes the email address field they can bypass automated detection systems altogether.

Again, the market has little incentive to fix this on their own as these players ultimately do generate profit, so if there is to be change in the market it would necessarily have to be led by the regulator.

This issue is easily the most challenging of the issues raise to address on a technological level and may prove unrealistic to achieve. Nevertheless, improvement in this area would result in significant additional protections for the most vulnerable consumers and a significant drop in complaint volumes see by ADRs.

Declined Complaints

Over the course of this year we have declined to review a total of 62 complaint submissions. The reasons for declination can be found below:

- Complaint was frivolous or vexatious (this includes situations where complainants become abusive or threatening): 14 (1.61%)

- Complaint has already been reviewed by another ADR: 10 (1.15%)

- Contested funds are less than £/$/€10: 4 (0.46%)

- Complaint more than 18 months old: 0 (0%)

- Complaint would impact the effectiveness of our operation: 0 (0%)

- Complaint is of an inappropriate nature for an ADR to review: 30 (3.46%)

- Complaint submission was incomplete: 4 (0.46%)

Average Time Taken to Resolve Disputes

All complaints = 44.57 days

MGA ADR complaints = 30.41 days

Compliance Rates

As this service is offered free to operators we both expect and require a 100% compliance rate from any licensee we represent. Any situation where an ADR client refused to comply with our ruling would ultimately result in Ltd terminating the ADR provision contract.

To date, within the subset of complaints managed within the ADR remit we have seen a 100% compliance rate with our rulings.

Funds Recovered for Consumers

All complaints - $763055

ADR complaints - $104336

Average funds recovered per complaint:

All complaints - $879

ADR complaints - $1003

Proportion of complaints ruled in favour of the Consumer/Operator

Complaints Resolved:

All complaint – 37.44%

ADR complaint – 41.35%

Resolved complaints are those where upon discussion all parties agree to a solution.

Found for the Operator:

All complaints – 32.60%

ADR complaints – 58.65%

Comments – There is a significant disparity between the volumes of complaints being ruled in favour of the operator between the ADR complaints and non-ADR complaints. This can be accounted for by the fact that out with the ADR remit many operators will flatly refuse to discuss any player issues. The consequence of this is that even where the operator has valid grounds for the actions they have taken, they present no defence of their position with the result being a player favourable ruling.

Beyond this, those complaints that fall within the ADR remit are against operators that by and large will be more robustly regulated. Where regulation is tighter operators are more likely to employ policies that are fair and reasonable. Weakly licensed operators – largely falling outside of the ADR remit – are more likely to employ questionable practices that we ultimately would not support. Hence a lower level of operator favourable rulings.

Finally, with regard to the ADR based complaints, it is worth noting that rulings more frequently favour the operator than the player. This fact can be accounted for via selection bias. We look to work with licensees that are already minded towards fair treatment of players. ADR clients will look to minimise the number of complaints that ultimately get escalated to the ADR level by internally addressing as many complaints as possible. Consequently this has the result of delivering a higher concentration of issues submitted to our service where the operator is confident that the actions they have taken are fair and compliant with their license. This filtering out of legitimate claims prior to escalation to ADR review results in higher levels of operator favourable rulings.

Found for the Player:

All complaints – 21.31%

ADR complaints – 0%*

* Only where an operator failed to comply with an ADR ruling would an ADR complaint be categorised as ‘Found for the Player’.

These figures are closely aligned with the figures that we reported during our 2015-16 ADR report for the UKGC, indicating a consistency in the service levels delivered in the comparative years.

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