How To Resolve Disputes With Casinos & Bookmakers (Step-by-Step)

Despite the UK government’s efforts to standardise and regulate the gambling industry through the introduction of the Gambling Commission, player disputes are still alarmingly frequent. Resolving a dispute with an online Bookmaker or Casino can be a lengthy, stressful and drawn out process.

In this post I’ve detailed each of the steps you need to take. It won’t guarantee success — but it’ll certainly give you a decent chance.

 

Online Gambling: An Evolving Industry

Before diving in, it’s important to note that the online gambling landscape is still evolving in terms of its regulations. Despite efforts to standardise the industry, rogue Bookmakers and Casinos still operate without licenses or adherence to established laws. This complicates resolving disputes.

The following steps aim to streamline the process and minimise the resources—time, effort, and money—you might otherwise expend when dealing with a Bookmaker or online Casino that fails to uphold their end of the bargain, be it through non-payment of winnings, voided bets, or alleged breaches of terms and conditions.

Let’s get started.

 

Step 1: Identify The Problem

It’s crucial to determine why a dispute has arisen between you and the Casino/Bookie. Are you truly innocent?

There are three primary reasons a Bookmaker or Casino may justify withholding payment:

  1. Suspected fraud or illegal activity
  2. Documentation not supplied
  3. Breach of terms & conditions

I’ll address each of these one by one.


1. Suspected Fraud or Illegal Activity

Gambling companies may freeze accounts and withhold payouts if they suspect fraud or illegal activity on their platform. “Fraudulent activity” is a broad term in online gambling, not necessarily indicating a breach of the law. For instance, claiming a signup bonus twice or using a friend’s betting account might be seen as fraud by the Bookmaker.

Illegal activities like money laundering or underage gambling lead to immediate account freezing and denial of payouts. If found engaging in such activities, you don’t stand a chance of winning a dispute.

This article is only aimed at those wrongly accused.


2. Documentation Not Supplied

Many disputes arise from documentation requests. Usually, Bookies require a scan of your ID and a recent utility bill or bank statement to process withdrawals. Challenging this request is pointless as it is the industry standard.

However, some requests aim to delay payments. For example, you may be asked to:

  • Show all corners of your ID to prove that your scan is “legitimate”
  • Increase the resolution of your documents (to give the Bookie the luxury of viewing your perfectly legible scan in HD, perhaps?)
  • Show your face holding up the ID, to confirm that you are in fact the person placing the bets
  • Provide a notarised ID, authenticated by a Notary Public

Most gambling companies pay out after fulfilling their documentation requirements.

However, absurd requests, such as providing a notarised ID, are costly and inconvenient. So you have two options: comply or lodge a complaint by continuing through this article.


3. Breach of Terms & Conditions

Gambling websites protect themselves with detailed terms and conditions, often including clauses favouring the house. This is precisely why disputes regularly arise from bonus terms or promotional requirements that players overlook, or do not fully understand when they take up an offer.

During a dispute, it’s essential to examine the vendor’s website to uncover any potential breaches that either you (the player) or the gambling site may have committed. Although breaches can complicate winning a case, vague or unfair terms, or unjustified withholding of winnings, can bolster your position.

Gather all strong evidence with screenshots. If you can’t find the precise terms & conditions from the date(s) your case relates to, then try using a site like archive.org to see if there’s a older version of the web page saved.

After reviewing the terms and conditions, if you strongly feel that you have been unfairly treated, don’t give up. Simply gather and save the evidence, and proceed to Step 2.

 

Step 2: Assert Your Innocence

Now that your research is complete, and you’ve gathered all relevant terms and conditions, along with establishing a strong case, it’s time to give the Bookmaker or Casino an opportunity, in writing, to address your concerns before taking further action.

Always follow the gambling site’s own complaints procedure. In the UK, gambling businesses have 8 weeks to resolve complaints from the time of receipt. Once the investigation concludes, they should inform you of the outcome and the subsequent steps.

During your correspondence, push the Bookmaker to clearly outlines, in writing, their perspective on what they believe you’ve done wrong (even if you already have an idea). Understanding their argument can significantly aid your dispute resolution.

Always communicate via email to maintain a record of correspondence. In these emails, remember to:

  • Assert your innocence and state that you opened the account in good faith.
  • Maintain a polite, assertive, and calm tone.
  • Affirm that you haven’t violated any terms and conditions.
  • Provide evidence using the screenshots you’ve collected.
  • Reiterate your willingness to comply with documentation requests.
  • Urge them to present evidence justifying non-payment (or otherwise).

In cases of non-payment of winnings from a Casino, it’s common for the vendor to avoid giving specific reasons. They may resort to vague explanations like “betting patterns,” “suspicious activity,” or “breach of terms.” Stay composed; weak and unjustified excuses could work in your favour.

It’s possible you may never receive a satisfactory response or any response at all. If you’re hitting a dead end, consider issuing an ultimatum: threaten to escalate the matter to their gambling regulator and other third-party mediators. Make it clear that you’re not willing to prolong the process unnecessarily.

If there’s still no satisfactory resolution after this, you must follow through with your threat and proceed to Step 3.

 

Step 3: Compile a Detailed Account of Events

If your attempts to reason with the vendor have proven futile and you remain convinced of the validity of your case, then it’s time to follow through with your threat to escalate the complaint. This is the only viable course of action.

To proceed, you must compile a comprehensive report detailing every aspect of the situation, accompanied by a clear timeline of events.


Step-by-Step Guide to Compiling Your Report

  1. Open your preferred word processor (e.g., Google Drive, Microsoft Word).
  2. Begin by documenting the dates of each relevant event.
  3. Provide detailed accounts of what transpired on each date, including conversations and actions taken. Highlight instances where you believe the vendor erred or where you were correct.
  4. Include any supporting evidence such as screenshots of emails, chat logs, and terms and conditions that bolster your argument.
  5. Once you’ve established a clear timeline, ensure your report has a succinct title and introduction that immediately convey the nature of the dispute. If it involves a significant sum of money, emphasise this in the title (e.g., “£6,000 Withdrawal Dispute: Wrongfully Accused of Breaching T&C’s”).
  6. Carefully proofread your report, paying attention not only to spelling and grammar but also to tone. Maintain a reasonable, level-headed style, avoiding exclamation marks, foul language, or abusive language. Avoid appearing overly desperate or arrogant!

Remember to empathise with the reader of your complaint, acknowledging that they handle numerous disputes. Keep your report clear, concise, and focused, making the process easier for all parties involved.


Can You Seek Legal Advice at This Stage Instead?

Yes — it’s an option. But there are considerations to ponder:

  • Not all disputes justify legal expenses, particularly if the sum involved is relatively small.
  • Even with legal representation, you’ll need to provide comprehensive details of your case.
  • Financial constraints may limit access to legal services for some individuals.
  • If significant sums are at stake, pursuing legal action may indeed be more efficient.

In the majority of instances, I advise against seeking legal counsel at this point. If you’re happy to pursue more budget-friendly options, Step 4 awaits.

 

Step 4: Escalate Your Case

Alright, you’ve held your position, but it seems it hasn’t led to a resolution. You’ve compiled a tidy case file, and now it’s time to pass the baton to those with greater influence.


The Regulatory Route

Regrettably, in my experience, regulators aren’t as forthcoming with assistance as one might hope. In fact, most of them prefer not to directly engage with complaints.

Part of the issue lies in the fact that regulators maintain business ties with Bookmakers and Casinos. They grant licenses to those who meet their standards, enabling them to offer gambling services to the public. Consequently, when a customer lodges a complaint, it can place the regulator in an uncomfortable position, often feeling like an uphill battle.

Nevertheless, if your regulator offers its own complaints procedure, it’s worth directing your complaint there.

Bear in mind that response times can be sluggish, so it’s wise to simultaneously explore other, more proactive third-party mediators.


Third-Party Mediation

In the UK, third-party mediators are typically referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers.

The UK Gambling Commission stipulates that you must exhaust the gambling provider’s internal complaints procedure before resorting to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider.


Recommended

At this stage, you can opt for one of the UK Gambling Commission’s accredited ADRs. Alternatively, consider one of my third-party recommendations listed below:

  • IBAS (Independent Betting Adjudication Service): A free service facilitating dispute resolution with licensed gambling operators.
  • Ask Gamblers: Among my preferred gambling review platforms, offering excellent guidance.
  • Gambling Grumbles: A reputable and longstanding website boasting a high success rate in dispute resolution.
  • CasinoReviews: Authorised by the Malta Consumer Affairs Council (CAC) to act as an ADR service for the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) license.

Please engage with only one mediator at a time to avoid complicating the mediation process by multiple simultaneous inquiries.


Not Recommended

There are two widely recognised mediators you should be aware of, although I hesitate to recommend them.

  • CasinoMeister: While this website may steer you clear of some of the shadier gambling sites, it operates primarily as an affiliate site under the guise of a third-party mediator. Complaints, known as “pitch a bitch” submissions, are often dismissed, reinforcing my skepticism regarding their impartiality.
  • eCogra: Online gambling sites bearing their seal are purportedly subject to rigorous monitoring and review. However, my experience with their dispute resolution process was less than satisfactory, with an apparent bias towards the casinos.

Please note that you have a right to appeal a decison if you are not satisfied with the outcome.

If a resoluton cannot be reached through these mediators, it suggests you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn or rogue Bookmaker. If you remain confident in the strength of your case and seek a favorable outcome, don’t lose heart—press on to the next step.

 

Step 5: Seek Legal Assistance

Few complaints escalate to this extent unless they involve substantial sums of money (or you never had a strong case to begin with). Fortunately, there are professional services available to lend assistance:

  • Specialised lawyers in gambling law do exist. A quick Google search for your city can help you find them.
  • If your complaint pertains to an advertised bonus or promotion, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) may be able to assist.
  • Consider the Small Claims Court as another avenue for resolution.

Legal action against a Bookmaker is often the most impactful, albeit costly, recourse.

Beyond legal avenues, options become limited. Some players opt to air grievances about a Bookmaker or Casino’s misconduct online — but that’s highly unlikely to change the outcomeof your case.

For networking and support from others who have faced similar disputes, the Twitter account @BettingScams can be a valuable resource.


I hope this information alleviates some frustration and aids in resolving your gambling dispute. Many of you may find that Bookmakers and Casinos back down  once you effectively argue and demonstrate your innocence. However, if not, they may persist until you escalate the matter further.

Toby @ Punter2Pro
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