Regulation

European Union Online Gambling Dispute Platform Unveiled

EU dispute resolution

There’s a new dispute resolution platform in town for online gamblers living in European Union nations. The UK Gambling Commission unveiled the platform earlier this year and it officially went live on 15 February.

Official ODR website: http://ec.europa.eu/odr

The purpose of the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website is to resolve disputes between players and gambling sites based in Europe without going to court. If you have a problem getting paid or feel that you somehow got the raw end of a bad deal, you can now file your complaint with the ODR for a quick resolution.

For example, let’s say you claim a sports betting bonus from a gaming website and then later they tell you the bonus has been voided based on some obscure wording found in the terms and conditions. You feel that you’ve been ripped off and would like to address the issue. To further complicate matters, you discover that the betting site is headquartered in a different country than where you live.

If your complaint to the betting site in question goes unheard, it would normally be an expensive and time-consuming matter to take them to court. Most people in this situation end taking the loss and maybe leaving a complaint on an online discussion forum. That is hardly an ideal resolution.

The ODR seeks to simplify the matter by giving players and operators a central platform to resolve these types of issues with the help of approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) entities. ADR entities are approved on a case-by-case basis by the EU to ensure they meet EU standards and are registered with national authorities. In short, you can use the ODR website to bring your complaint to a legitimate dispute resolution organization.

An image from the ODR website explains the process in simple terms:

ODR complaint process

Back in December, the UK Gambling Commission reminded operators that they will be obliged to notify customers of the existence of the dispute resolution platform:

Online businesses must provide signposting to the ODR platform from 15 February.  Not only must they link to the ODR platform on their website, they must also inform consumers of the existence of the ODR platform and the possibility of using the platform to resolve disputes, and they must include this information in any standard terms and conditions of business. If an offer is made to a consumer by email, the email must contain a link to the ODR platform.  The guidance to businesses states that ‘traders may prefer to signpost consumers in the same member state directly to their approved ADR provider in the first instance…if they believe it would be a simpler route to attempt to settle the dispute’.

The new dispute resolution platform is still very much in its early stages. The United Kingdom is fully on board, but it remains to be seen how many entities from other countries join the platform. The true effectiveness of the ODR will only be realized once the majority of EU nations sign on. In any case, it’s a great start. If successful, the ODR platform will make it infinitely easier for players to have their complaints addressed in a fair manner.

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