Gambling complaint resolution

6 September 2020 |

Make a complaint against a bookmaker

Unfortunately, the online betting process does not always go as smooth as it could. If you find yourself in a situation of a dispute with a bookmaker, you may wish to submit a complaint against them. In the first instance you should always try to resolve the dispute directly with the bookmaker. Should that not get you a satisfactory result, you can then lodge a complaint with the applicable provincial gambling board. It is the duty of the regulator, among their other responsibilities, to ensure consumer protection.

Do arbitration services exist?

Some betting review websites offer to handle a gambling complaint with bookmakers on your behalf, as a form of arbitration. It is however best to follow the formal dispute resolution process as outlined by the bookmaker concerned. Such review websites are not officially appointed arbitrators and so cannot act on your behalf. While some will attempt to do so, you should not expect a better outcome than dealing with the matter yourself. We do not offer to handle disputes on your behalf. Instead we offer some advice on the official process to be followed.

Ensure that you have acted correctly

A betting site would usually include information on their complaint or dispute resolution process in the terms and conditions found on their website. This is, as mentioned, the first step in the dispute resolution process. Before starting the process, be certain that you have done everything correctly from your side, including:

  • You have submitted all requested information and supporting documentation required under the FICA process.
  • You haven’t breached any of the general betting conditions or those associated with promotional offers.
  • Your bets have not been affected by any technical errors or systemic failures.
  • You have acted only according to the rules of the betting site.
  • The rules are not in breach of general betting and gambling regulations.

For an interesting read, have a look at our article on the High Court case of a South African player’s winning dispute with Sportingbet.

Contact the provincial gambling board

If you are unable to resolve the gambling complaint with the bookmaker, you will need to contact the provincial gambling board. They will seek information on your case with the bookmaker. They may also contact you for additional information on the case. Once they have obtained all information required, they will decide on the resolution. They will then contact both you and the bookmaker with their proposed solution.

Is the process the same for every bookmaker?

Different bookmakers may be licensed by different Provincial Licensing Authorities (PLA). Since license conditions may differ from one province to another, each PLA follows their own dispute resolution process. Some PLAs require the bookmaker to submit a dispute resolution process to the PLA board. An official is then appointed to oversee the process. Some PLAs handle the gambling complaint directly. It is therefore difficult to provide one standard process for all bookmakers.

Stick to the facts and be patient

In most cases, simply believing that you are not at fault, will unfortunately not get you very far. Try to reach a solution amicably, even though you may have been inconvenienced by the situation. Also, be patient – sometimes a gambling complaint could take some time to resolve. There may be a lot of information that has to be reviewed. State your case clearly and concisely, stick to the facts. If your case relates to a dispute of winnings of a sizable sum, it may also be worth involving an independent lawyer. Of course, this would usually involve a cost. If the size of the prize is large enough, this remains a viable option.

Report unlicensed gambling activities

Although they exist for your protection, it usually does not help reporting your dispute to the police. Instead take your case to a provincial gambling board, officially responsible for dispute resolution. Reporting your case to the police can help if you believe you have been affected by criminal events. Do note that the NGB (National Gambling Board) assists the provincial licensing authorities in the handling of unlicensed gambling activities. If you have information on such activities, contact the provincial gambling board and they will take the matter further. Our page on betting law lists the websites of the gambling regulatory bodies in South Africa. Follow these website links to get contact information for the provincial gambling boards.

Online betting should be fun and entertaining. So, you should not start your betting experience thinking about possible differences. To avoid any negativity from the start we recommend playing with one of our reviewed bookmakers. We have tested these thoroughly and from our experience they are excellent in dealing with possible disagreements.

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