This article was written by ThePOGG.
No matter how carefully you select the online gambling operator you play with, there is always the possibility of problems arising. Casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms are staffed by people just like you. And try as hard as we all might, everyone makes mistakes. Whilst the best operators have very few unhappy players, no gambling establishment has a perfect record.
That is what the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service here at ThePOGG is here to help with! This guide will lead you through how to submit your complaint and what to expect after that.
How to submit a complaint to the ADR service at ThePOGG
Join the site
If you are looking to submit a casino complaint to our service the first thing you need to do is register an account with ThePOGG. To register an account you need to click the blue ‘Join’ button that is found at the top right of the screen (if you are using a desktop device) or by clicking the Menu button (three horizontal lines) at the top left of the screen then the blue ‘Join’ (if you are using a mobile device).
When you click the Join button you will be asked to fill out a short form.
♠ Username - You need to choose a username. Your username will be publicly available for any site user to see when the final complaint report is published. It is really important that you do NOT choose a username that contains information that could be used to identify you. That includes your name or your email address. If you ignore this rule, your complaint will be rejected!
♥ Email – You need to enter an email address where we can contact you. You will have to verify this email address before you can log in and submit your complaint. Important information about your complaint will also be sent to this address.
Log in to ThePOGG
After you have signed-up and verified your email address, the next step is to log into your account. You can do this by clicking the blue ‘Login’ button that is found at the top right of the screen (if you are using a desktop device) or by clicking the Menu button (three horizontal lines) at the top left of the screen then the blue ‘Join’ (if you are using a mobile device).
Submit Your Complaint
Once you have logged in, you are ready to submit your complaint.
Go to the ‘Submit Complaint’ page. This can be found by mousing over the ‘Complaints’ menu in the navigation bar at the top of the page (if you are using a desktop device), or by clicking on the Menu button (three horizontal lines), then clicking on ‘Complaints’, then clicking ‘Submit Complaint’ (if you are using a mobile device).
Our Submit Complaint page has a form asking for you for details of the issue you have experienced. Below we will go through the different fields and what you should include in each.
♠ Complaint Title - This field should be the gambling operator’s name, followed by a dash, then a very brief descriptor of the issue. For example ‘Yeti Casino – non-payment’. This field will be publicly visible.
♥ Your Full Name - As the name would suggest, this should be your full name. This is really important. You are entering a legally binding contract with us to allow us to discuss your personal information with the operator. If you do not provide us with your full name – not initials, not first name only, not surname only – we cannot manage your complaint. This field will never be publicly visible.
♣ Your username at the gambling operator in question - This is the username you use to log into your account at the gambling site. It might be a name you have chosen, it might be an account number, it might be an email address. We need this information to allow the operator to identify your account. This field will never be publicly visible.
♦ Your email at the gambling operator in question - This is the email address that you gave to the gambling operator when registering your account. It might be the same as your username. That’s ok. We need this information to allow the operator to identify your account. This field will never be publicly visible.
♠ The funds being contested (including currency) - A rough figure for the value of the funds that you are contesting. This field will never be publicly visible, but the figure will be included in our ‘money returned to players’ stat if your complaint is successful.
♥Your country of residence - This is the country that you are currently living in. This field will never be publicly visible.
♣ Select the gambling operator - In this drop down menu you should select the gambling operator that you are complaining about. If the gambling operator you want to complain about does not appear in our list, simply select any operator and make clear at the top of the next field who you wish to complain about. This field will be publicly visible.
♦ Description and Notes - In this field you should detail the specifics of your problem with the gambling operator. A basic description of your issue is all that you need to include. If we need further supporting evidence – screenshots, emails, Live Chat interactions, KYC documentation – we will request it later in the process. This field will be publicly visible.
Once you have completed this form, click the ‘Submit’ button.
You will then be asked to confirm your permission for ThePOGG to share your personal information with the gambling operator, the company that owns the gambling operator and any regulatory agencies responsible for the gambling operator.
What happens next?
So what happens after you have submitted your complaint?
i) Your browser will show a screen confirming that your complaint has been submitted for review.
ii) You will receive an email confirming that your complaint has been submitted for review.
Now you wait. Our ADR Official will review your complaint, this will usually happen in between 1 and 5 days, and will respond either asking for further information, declining your complaint if it is inappropriate for our review, informing you that we will be contacting the operator to begin our investigation or informing you that we do not feel you have a valid claim.
What happens after my complaint has been accepted?
Once your complaint has been accepted, and you have provided any additional information that we have requested, we will contact the operator and look to engage a dialogue regarding your issue.
At this stage, the only people that can access your complaint file are yourself and our ADR Official. While we are aware that other online gambling communities take a different approach, our complaint management process is managed privately. It is our professional opinion that this provides the greatest possible chance of a successful resolution. Only at the point where we give a ruling on a complaint issue will the file be published to allow other parties to see it. Even at this stage certain information – personal information primarily – will be redacted.
When we have an update for you this will be posted on your complaint thread. If you want to add additional information to your complaint or respond to a message we have sent, this is the place to do it. To access your complaint file you will need to log in and then go to the ‘All Complaints’ page where your complaint file will be shown at the top of the page as ‘In progress’.
We will send you an email alert any time your complaint file is updated so you should keep an eye on your inbox and junk mail folder. However as we cannot guarantee the function of any 3rd party email client and because it is easy to miss a single email amongst the dozens you likely receive every day, we would advise you to log in regularly to check your complaint file directly.
Frequently Asked Questions
♠ What do I do if the gambling operator I want to complain about isn’t included in your list?
Select any operator from the list and at the top of the description field make clear the url of the operator you actually want to complain about. We will do the rest.
♥ I’ve received an error message when trying to submit a complaint. What do I do?
We receive around a half dozen complaints every day. Sometimes more. If there was ever a day that we received no complaints we would immediately know that there was a technical problem with our system.
When you receive an error message when trying to submit a complaint, this is not due to our system being in any way defective, it is due to some of the cookies stored by your browser clashing with the necessary processes needed to submit your complaint.
There are several ways that you can resolve or get around this issue.
The first and simplest is to clear your browser cache. If you are unsure of how to do this go to Google and search ‘how do I clear my [browser name] cache?’ Google will almost certainly display step by step instructions at the top of the search results.
If you do not want to clear your browser cache another option is to use a different browser. Our site works with all the most popular browsers on all the major platforms.
Finally, if you do not want to try another browser you can use an alternative device
♣ When will I know the outcome of my complaint?
As frustrating as this is for many players, we cannot give you any good answer to this question.
The truth is that how long your complaint will take to manage will depend on a variety of factors including:
Which operator you are complaining about – Some operators we have a well-established dialogue with, others we have never spoken to. The nature of our existing relationship with the company will have a significant impact on how quickly we are likely to get a response. If we haven’t spoken to the operator before, you can take a good guess that it’s going to take us longer to get an answer.
Which operator you are complaining about! – Even when we have an established relationship with an operator, the policies at the operator’s end in terms of who is responsible for responding to complaint issues varies significantly from company to company. This means that some operators will regularly respond with full detailed responses within hours of our email and others will take several weeks.
Our system is specifically structured to treat both parties equally. Where we ask for information from either party we allow the party 3 weeks to respond before taking any action. That does not mean that 3 weeks will conclude our discussion. That is 3 weeks for each request. So if a response results in a further request, a further 3 week period will be allowed.
Who we have to talk to - Not all complaints are a discussion between us, you and the operator. From time to time we have to engage with regulators, software providers, other consumer protection agencies, financial institutions, legal firms etc etc etc. Where we have to do this, the process slows while we wait on the third parties involved responding. Some of these third parties HAVE to respond. Others may choose to cooperate (most do) but will do so in their own time. But without exception our contacts will not be considered ‘high priority’ to these bodies. As such this slows the process down. Regulators and software providers especially – who are the most common 3rd party we need to contact – are commonly very slow to answer questions.
The nature of your complaint - What your complaint is about is likely to have a significant impact on how long it will take to manage. Some complaints are straightforward, others are complex and involved. Obviously the more complex your complaint is the longer it will take to discuss.
We need to give a clear warning on this point - Just because you consider your complaint to be straightforward does not mean we will. Often when we dig down into a complaint we will find issues that you may not be aware of. When that happens, we often end up talking to 3rd parties to get clarifications on rules and requirements to ensure that our understanding is correct. This goes back to the point above – the moment 3rd parties are involved in a conversation, everything slows down.
♦ What can you tell me about how long the complaint management process will take?
What we can do to give you some reasonable concept of how long a complaint will take to manage – to help you maintain appropriate expectations – is the following.
- Our quickest resolutions can occur in less than 24 hours.
- Our longest-running complaint is at 2.5 years and counting (an exclusion has to expire before we can conclude the issue).
- Over the last year, the average length of time it has taken to conclude the complaint management process has been 40 days under all licenses and 35 when dealing with an operator for whom we act as ADR for their MGA license.
- Approximately 8% of complaints, for all licenses, have taken longer than 90 days to conclude. When acting as an ADR for the MGA license less than 4% of complaints tool longer than 90 days to conclude.
♠ When will you update me about the progress of my complaint?
The short answer to this is “When we have new information to give to you or when we need further information from you.”
We understand that this can be frustrating, especially with cases that run on for a long time. However, at any given time this service has multiple hundreds of open cases. Every day we receive scores of requests for updates on complaints. If our team was to spend time responding to each of these requests with “we do not have any new information for you at the present time”, we would end up wasting hours every day. That’s hours of time that is not being productively invested in resolving these open complaints.
We do not provide updates on request as it would slow the system down noticeably for everyone involved.
We ask you to be patient and understanding and know that, unless you have been explicitly told that your complaint has been closed, that as long as your complaint is at ‘In progress’ status, we are still actively working on your issue and conduct checks on the progress of your complaint at least once per week. We will get back to you when we are at a point where we can give you solid feedback.
♥ I have supporting documents to go with my case. Should I email them through to you?
Not unless we have asked you to.
Our service receives literally hundreds of emails every day. The majority of these are players sending through documents or information we have not asked for. Where we need specific information to move your complaint forward we will ask for it. If we have not asked you to provide additional documentation it is because we do not feel that we require it at the present time.
If you have information that can only be provided via email that you think may make a difference to your claim, tell us about it on your complaint page. If we agree that it may be relevant we will direct you to email it through to us.
The vast majority of the emails we receive are not relevant. They choke-up our inbox and take excessive time to sort through. Please help this service out by asking whether we would likely need any information you have before sending it through.
♣ Can I email you my complaint?
The short answer is ‘no’.
The longer answer is ‘we will accept complaints via email but only where every other avenue to access our standard complaint management system has been exhausted.’ To date – in over a decade of managing complaints - we have NEVER encountered a case that could not be managed via our standard complaints system.
Our online complaint system is designed with the specific intention of making the complaint management process easier for all parties. The advantages are as follows:
- All complaint information is stored in a centralized location, ensuring that it is easy to locate for our ADR Official.
- It gathers and stores an appropriate record of permissions given to ensure compliance with the GDPR.
- It provides automatic reminders to our ADR Official at appropriate junctures when action needs to be taken on each case.
- It stores all complaint information in a secure fashion that is only accessible by the ADR Official.
The above being the case, complaints managed via our web based complaint system require less work, are faster to manage and are more secure.
♦ Can I email you my response to a complaint update?
You can, but it’s unlikely to be read. Our email notifications are sent out from an unmonitored email address and we give clear direction not to respond to them.
Even if you change the email address to our complaints email address, due to the high volumes of emails we receive every day not every email is reviewed. If we are not expecting an email from you we will not be looking for this.
If you want to respond to your complaint the correct way to do so is by logging into your account, going to your complaint file and posting any information you want us to review.
♠ You emailed me and told me you rejected my complaint. Why?
If you have been notified via email that your complaint has been rejected, this is because you have chosen a username that contains personal information that could be used to identify you. That being the case your account and complaint have been deleted from our system.
You need to re-register – this time choosing a user name that could not be used to identify you – and resubmit your complaint.
♥ It’s been more than a week, why have I not received a response to my complaint submission?
The most likely reason is that you’ve submitted your complaint via a username that is either your full name or email address.
When preparing a complaint for publication – after the complaint has been reviewed and all discussions concluded – we always look to ‘sanitise’ the complaint. This means editing out any information that could be used to identify you personally (Note: you can see where we’ve done this by looking for ‘[EDIT]’). We cannot edit out your username. If your username consists of information that could potentially be used to identify you we could potentially be considered in breach of privacy law publishing this information. As such we cannot accept any complaints from users that include personal information in their username. We do email you when this happens, but you may have missed our email. Sorry. Try signing up again using a different username and re-submitting your complaint.
♣ Why can I not see my complaint in the complaints list?
While your complaint is in the process of being managed you will need to be logged in to see it. If your complaint is 'In progress' and you are logged in, it will appear at the top of the complaint list.
♦ Why is my complaint not viewable by other users?
Unfortunately some players choose to use complaint services like ours to attempt to pressurise operators into paying out when they know they have not been compliant with terms and conditions. For this reason we ensure that both parties are given fair opportunity to provide their account of events before any complaints are made public. This has the added advantage of ensuring that many operators are more willing to cooperate and listen to our service as they feel they will be treated fairly and facts will be checked before publication happens. This results in a higher resolution rate for legitimate complainants.
We understand that you may be familiar with other complaint services that allow you to post your complaint in public immediately, but we strongly believe our system results in a higher rate of success in getting money back where it is due.
♠ I have asked for updates on my complaint but no-one responds. Why not?
Simple – time. When we have information that is relevant and we can share with you we will. Until that point we do not provide updates either via your complaint file or via email. At any given time we have hundreds of open complaint cases we are reviewing. Some players will ask for multiple updates a week. We are a small team and restrict access to the complaints section to only team members that absolutely need to have it to ensure that your data remains private. We could spend hours every week responding to players asking for updates when we don’t have anything new to tell them, or we can invest those hours in making more progress with getting the open complaints resolved. When we don’t have anything new to tell you, responding to update requests is not a good use of time and only ultimately slows down the system for everyone.
♥ What languages can I submit my complaint in?
This is an English language service and you need to use English when submitting your complaint.
We are always keen to help every player, regardless of the country they come from, so if you do not speak English we would recommend that you use freely available translation services like Google Translate [https://translate.google.co.uk/?hl=en&tab=TT] to prepare your complaint.
♣ How much does your complaint management service cost?
It does not cost anything. Our service is free to use.
♦ I am not disputing any funds. Can I still submit a complaint?
While we understand that matters other than a disagreement about funds can lead to dissatisfaction with a gambling operator, an ADR service is intended as an alternative to the small claims court. If it is not appropriate for a court to review an issue, this service is not the best forum to pursue your issue. As such we have a minimum claim value of €10.
♠ I’ve submitted my complaint. How long before you review it?
New complaints can take up to 5 days to be reviewed.
♥ Can I have someone else represent me?
Yes. However this will result in some additional requirements before we can discuss the complaint with anyone other than the account holder.
If you are looking for someone other than yourself to be able to manage your complaint we will require the following:
- A written and signed document stating that you provide your consent for your representative to act on your behalf in all matters relating to your complaint.
- A copy of government issued photo ID for both yourself and the representative.
- A bank statement or utility bill not older than 3 months for both yourself and the representative.
This list is not exhaustive and we may require further proof of identity for all parties involved.
Much simpler is if you manage your interactions with this service yourself and simply take any advice or guidance from any 3rd party you are looking to involve.
♣ Some complaints get closed without you explaining why you are supporting the operator. Why?
Unfortunately not every player plays by the rules. In fact a significant number of the players that complain to this service (approximately 10%) are knowingly engaging in activity that is not only prohibited by terms and conditions but potentially illegal, falling under the common definitions of fraud.
These players are a drain on our time and resources. They know before submitting a complaint that they’ve breached the rules and are simply hoping that the operator will not have enough evidence to convince a third party (or lots of third parties as these complainants often submit their complaint to every prominent service at once) that they have broken terms.
While we are not about to make moral judgements about the choices anyone makes - each person has to decide for themselves what is right and wrong in life - but this service is not intended to support players that are engaging in practices that breach terms and conditions or law. We will not aid them by providing information on how they got caught.
Beyond this basic philosophy, depending on the nature of the situation there may be legal barriers restricting what we can/cannot say. In these situations we cannot even acknowledge that there are such barriers without breaching the law. We will always prioritize following the law and will not discuss these complaints at all.
♦ My complaint is for a lot of money. How do I get you to treat it as a priority?
You do not. What constitutes "a lot of money" is entirely based on your life circumstances. What seems like a small amount of money to you may seem huge to someone else and vice versa. We do not give priority to complaints based on the amount of money being contested.
♠ ThePOGG.com has really helped me out. I would like to donate part of the money you got back for me. Where do I do that?
We are always really happy to hear that a player feels so grateful to us that they’d like to contribute to our service. It is the biggest possible compliment that we could receive! But we would far rather you kept your hard-earned money, or if you really want to do something good, make a donation to a charity supporting those suffering from gambling addictions.
We are not at all ungrateful for your amazing gesture, but operators have to see us as impartial if we are going to expect them to cooperate with us. Where they see us accepting a cut of money we recover some of them will view this as an indicator of potential bias towards the player and use it as an argument against working with us to resolve complaints. We do not want to give them that excuse so we do not accept donations.
♥ I registered from a country that the casino is not licensed to accept, lost money and want to get it back. Will you help me?
No. If the only grounds for your claim is that the operator does not hold a license to accept players from your jurisdiction you need to speak to the regulator/government agency responsible for preventing unlicensed operators from accessing residents under their purview. This service is specifically involved in the management of complaints where the gambling transaction has in someway become unfair. The lack of a relevant license does not by itself have any influence on the fairness of a gambling transaction.
All we can suggest under these circumstances is that you ensure any operator you are considering playing with holds the relevant gambling license before you play.
♣ An operator has taken a payment from me without my authorisation. Can you help?
No. If you are contesting that a payment has been taken without authorisation, the only party that can verify whether you authorised the payment are your payment provider. You need to contact your payment provider to review issues of this nature.
♦ Someone else has used my payment method or operator account without my permission. Can you help?
No. This is a matter of identity theft and needs to be managed by the relevant legal authorities (you need to report the matter to the police ;) ).
♠ When does ThePOGG act officially for a license and when are they managing complaints informally?
All other complaints are managed informally, meaning that while we are happy to try to assist you we have no legal authority to enforce any ruling we make.
♥ How do I know that you are fair?
Different aspects of our service are overseen by both the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority and the Malta Gaming Authority to ensure that our service maintains the standards expected by the regulators.
Alongside this, we publish annual reports on the complaints that we have managed over the previous year. You can see our ADR report for Oct 2019-Sep 2020 here. Over 2019-2020 over half of all complaints that were managed under our ADR remit were ultimately resolved, meaning that the player was paid.
Complaints dos and don’ts
♠ Check your email account regularly for updates.
We send out email notifications whenever your complaint file is updated.
♥ Login into your account and check your complaint file regularly.
In case your email client rejects our email notifications or marks them as spam, you should log in and check your complaint file regularly.
♣ Notify us if you have resolved your issue.
Don’t leave us chasing complaints that have already been resolved. Let us know if you no longer require our assistance!
♦ Respond as quickly as possible to any requests we make.
The quicker you respond the quicker we can take the next appropriate steps.
♠ Email through your complaint if we have not asked you to.
All complainants need to use our standard complaint system unless requested to do otherwise.
♥ Leave your submission form incomplete.
If your submission form is incomplete, it will slow the process down as we ask you to provide complete details before we can start.
♣ Use prohibited characters (< > ‘ ” = * &).
These characters cannot be used in your submission for security reasons. If you use them we will only receive a part of your complaint and we will have to ask you to provide the rest of the complaint again.
♦ Email through information that we have not requested.
We will request any information that we require. Please don’t flood our inbox as this just makes it tougher to find the information we do need.
♠ Reply to email notification.
These automated emails are sent from an unmonitored email address.
♥ Include the password you use to access your gambling operator account.
♣ Post on other users complaint files.
Our complaint files are not a discussion forum. Posts from anyone other than the complainant will not be approved.
♦ Open new complaint files about the same issue.
If you want to communicate new information about a complaint, you need to do so via your complaint file. Opening new complaint files will result in all new files being deleted.
♠ Submit a complaint as your first course of action.
Before seeking our intervention you need to have worked with the operator and provided a reasonable length of time for the operator to manage the issue internally. If you fail to do this the response we give will simply be to ask you to give the operator more time before expecting us to intervene.
We are here to help with situations that cannot be resolved between yourself and the operator, not as an alternative to working the with the operator’s Customer Service.
♥ Submit a complaint if you have already had a ruling from another ADR.
We do not review complaints if another ADR has already given a ruling on the matter.
♣ Request updates.
We will update you once we are in a position to provide further comment on your case. We cannot accommodate update requests when we have no new information to deliver.
♦ Be rude or threatening.
If you are rude, disrespectful, abusive or threatening we will disengage our involvement in your complaint and you will be barred from any future use of our service.
In the most extreme cases we will file reports with the relevant law enforcement agencies.
We have a zero-tolerance policy on this matter.
Other ways to get your complaint reviewed
While we try our best to assist players whenever we can there will always be situations that come up where we cannot offer any further support. These can include:
♠ Where we have reviewed your issue and been unable to support your claim.
♥ Where the operator is unwilling to cooperate with this service.
♣ Where another ADR has already reviewed your claim.
♦ Where there is a conflict of interests that would prevent our ADR Official acting on your behalf.
In these circumstances you may want to look to alternative means of pursuing your complaint. Below we provide some suggestions and guidance.
The first option to consider is the operator’s regulator. Different regulators will have different processes for managing complaints. But any regulatory worth the name will have in place some system to help players address complaints against their licensees.
The first thing you need to do is establish which regulators the operator holds a license with. Any reputable operator will provide this information in the footer of their website:
Above you can see that the operator clearly states that they hold licenses with the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority and the Gibraltar Gambling Commission. The operator also links to each of these authorities.
Below you will find some comments on the complaint management systems provided by the more widely used regulators:
♠ Malta Gaming Authority - The MGA is one of the international licensing programs, meaning that an MGA license covers all players that engage with the operator, not simply those players resident in Malta.
♥ United Kingdom Gambling Commission - The UKGC is a single country licensing program, meaning that the strictures and requirements of a UKGC license only apply to an operator when they are dealing with players from the UK. The regulator takes no interest in any issues experienced by players outside of the UK.
It should be noted that within the UKGC licensing system ADRs are restricted from managing certain types of complaints, most specifically those related to responsible gambling and whether or not a player should have been allowed to play, either due to failures in the national self-exclusion scheme Gamstop or where the player feels that the operator should have stepped in to prevent their gambling. In these cases complaints should be directed to the regulator, however players should be aware that the UKGC will not ordinarily offer a response to any individual complaint, instead using these submissions to look for patterns and indications of potentially problematic activity within the industry.
For UK citizens only, if the matter relates to advertising - i.e. if you feel that an advert has been misleading or that promotional terms have been unclear or unavailable - players can also take their complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency and their sister organisation the Committee of Advertising Practice.
♣ Gibraltar Gambling Commission - The GGC are another international licensing program, with their license applying to any player resident in a jurisdiction where their authority is not superseded by a local regulatory entity. For example the GGC license would not be applicable for UK players where the operator also held a UKGC license.
The GGC licenses most of the biggest names in the industry.
The GGC appears to operate a quasi-ADR system. They do not appear to have in place any requirements that their licensees offer an ADR, but where they do would appear to direct players to submit their complaint to the ADR rather than the GGC. Where this is not possible, and subject to a length set of caveats, the GGC will review players complaints. Players can find information on the complaint process here.
♦ Alderney Gambling Control Commission - The AGCC are an international licensing program, meaning that their license applies to any player not covered by a local licensing system.
The AGCC does manage player complaints directly. Players can submit a complaint to the regulator here.
♠ Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission - The Isle of Man GSC are an international licensing program, meaning that their license applies to any player not covered by a local licensing system.
The GSC do manage player complaints directly. Players can submit a complaint to the regulator here.
♥ Spelinspektionen - The Spelinspektionen, the Swedish gambling regulator, is a single country licensing program, meaning that the strictures and requirements of a Spelinspektionen license only apply to an operator when they are dealing with players from Sweden. The regulator takes no interest in any issues experienced by players outside of Sweden.
Spelinspektionen do not manage player complaints themselves. Instead they look to the Swedish consumer affairs authority Konsumentverket to address player complaints.
Players should also be aware of the Swedish national self-exclusion register Spelpaus.
♣ Curacao - The Curacao license – in its various forms - is one of the most frequently seen licenses in the remote gambling industry. The Curacao licensing system is shrouded in mystery for players. As we understand it, the Curacao licensing system is not in fact in any way associated with the government of Curacao. Instead licenses are being offered by so called ‘Master License Holders’.
These Master License Holders appear to be private legal firms that are effectively providing business licenses to gambling operators. The standards that these operators are expected to meet are not defined within the public domain and appear to be very low compared to the other regulatory agencies detailed above.
While most Master License Holders do appear to offer some form of complaint procedure – usually found on the license page, where the operator links to these pages – but it has been our experience that these entities take little interest in assisting players to resolve their issues and in fact actively support their licensees in pursuing policies that allow their operators to exploit gambling addiction.
Below you can find a list of the Master License Holders that we are currently aware of:
- AntillePhone (this group does not appear to offer any user facing website beyond its license verification pages)
- Curacao eGaming
- Gaming Curacao
We would strongly encourage players to view the Curacao license as a liability rather than an asset. There are a small number of operators functioning solely with Curacao based licenses who do seek to treat players fairly, but these are very rare and are solely dependent on the integrity of the owners of the operator which can come under pressure where big wins are at play.
Another option to pursue your complaint is to look to take legal action against the operator.
The first thing to be aware of is that use of an ADR service – whether officially or unofficially – does not usually impede your right to pursue a claim in court. An ADR ruling in favor of the operator may be used by the operator in the defense of their case, but it does not ordinarily prevent a case from being brought nor does it guarantee an outcome.
The difficulties in pursuing legal action relate to establishing the appropriate jurisdiction within which to take action and obtaining legal representation to act on your behalf. For the majority of well licensed operators this will not be excessively difficult and any legal advisor worth engaging will be able to determine the correct court to approach. However for well licensed operators, the situations which would necessitate court action are far less frequent. Well licensed operators will already have a clearly established complaint management policy that will result in the vast majority of claims being resolved without the need for court intervention.
For weakly licensed operators, resident in island states, with complex company structures intended to mask those responsible for the business, legal action is to all intents and purposes unfeasible. We certainly have never heard of a player successfully taking legal action against a Curacao licensed operator for example.
Nevertheless, we are aware of some situations where court actions have benefitted players and it is worth keeping this option in mind. Where this is an option that you would like to consider, and the operator you are looking to pursue are resident in either Malta or the UK, our understanding is that Green Table Legal offers a no win no fee service that specializes in remote gambling complaints.
Online gambling communities
All the above options provide formalized approaches to the management of player complaints. They are rooted in regulatory and legal systems intended to protect consumers.
A less formal path is to take your complaint to one of a number of online gambling communities that assist their users in resolving complaint issues. While these communities lack the authority to force any specific outcome, they often have large volumes of traffic visiting their websites. In some cases, where the community is inclined to do so, they can leverage the operators desire to access their traffic for the purposes of advertising in order to pressure the operator to help a player. This is far from foolproof, but is another option open to players and one that is far more commonly successful than legal action.